Thousands of people have answered the call for climate change, attending rallies and demonstrations in major cities around the world ahead of this week’s U.N. summit. The summit will be held in New York this Tuesday, with representatives from 125 nations expected to attend.
With record turn outs in Canada, England, Australia and the United States, the public is seeking to show their governments that climate change needs to be addressed immediately. Even the stars came out to address the issue, with the rally in London attended by actress Emma Thompson, who marched along with over 40,000 people.
A rally in the Australian city of Melbourne attracted over 30,000 demonstrators. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot, who is not attending the summit, was urged by public and political members to ensure climate change remained a top priority.
Other major climate change rallies around the world included Paris, which attracted over 25,000 people. Approximately 15,000 people turned out in Berlin, where protestors urged their government to recognise global warming as an immediate problem. Other demonstrations occurred in Delhi, Jakarta, Barcelona and Rio de Janeiro.
Canada also made itself known, with thousands of protestors taking to the streets across the country. Demonstrations were held from Vancouver to Toronto and every major city in between. Canadian Prime Minister Steve Harper has drawn widespread criticism for not attending the summit.
However, the biggest turn out occurred in New York, where over 100,000 people took to the streets in an effort to shift global attention to one of the world’s most pressing issues. The event was attended by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who will chair the U.N. summit on Tuesday. It also drew actor Leonardo di-Caprio, a long-time advocate of climate change, and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has committed his city to an 80% reduction of greenhouse gases by 2050.
The New York rally drew people from a variety of communities and religions and was endorsed by over 1,000 separate organizations. The event even included a 3000 pound ice sculpture that spelled out “The Future.” The sculpture, created over 2 days by a dedicated team of sculptors, showed a direct example of the effects of global warming as it melted throughout the day. With such a huge turn-out in New York, event organizers are hoping to put pressure on world leaders to come up with an effective and realistic strategy to tackle climate change ahead of Tuesday’s summit.
The summit will mark the first time that climate change has taken the world stage in five years. World leaders met in Copenhagen, 2009, in an attempt to tackle the growing problems of global warming. But the conference ended in disappointing failure, with little headway made against combating pollution or reversing climate change. Since 2009 almost no progress has been made on an international level to deal with the issue, with world attention focused on a variety of global crises, most notably in the Middle-East.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced this year that 2014 is on track to break the record for the hottest year, which was set in 2010. This, along with rising sea-levels, increased ocean acidification and a host of other issues, is leading millions of people to believe that time is running out. This weekend’s demonstrations, which included 2000 separate marches across 166 countries, shows the united opinion of many world citizens that global warming must be addressed immediately. With thousands of people attending climate change rallies around the world, demonstrators are no doubt hoping that this time the results will be different.
By Mathew Channer