Hundreds of thousands march worldwide as Paris COP21 kicks off

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Around 600,000 protestors in 175 countries marched to push for real action ahead of the COP21 UN climate change summit, which started today.

London’s march was reportedly the world’s largest, with around 50,000 activists turning out; opposition party leader Jeremy Corbyn addressed the crowds in the capital. Major events also took place in UK cities like Edinburgh, Bristol and Belfast. Sydney’s march was the largest the Australian city had ever seen, with an estimated 45,000 people taking to the streets.

Protestors want the Paris summit to go beyond what many fear will be political lip service, and create a worldwide agreement that will keep the planet within 2C of warming above pre-industrial levels.

23381188306_2eef188730_k (1)In Paris, Pope Francis and Ban Ki-Moon were amongst those who placed 10,000 pairs of shoes in the Place de la Republique to represent those who were due to march before protests were forbidden by authorities due to security concerns.

Around 200 people were arrested in Paris after protests turned violent as police clashed with anti-capitalist and anarchist activists.

Groups also marched across the equator in Kenya, across a glacier in Chile, and in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific, which are threatened by rising seas.

COP21, which will run until 11 December, is now up and running; day 1 will see 147 world leaders speaking for 3 minutes each, and $20 billion annual funding will be announced for clean energy projects from 2020.

Ahead of the summit, Laurent Fabius, French foreign minister and COP21 president said: “There
is no Plan B for action, and there is
no Planet B. There will therefore be
a need for total climate mobilisation throughout France with the 2015 Paris Climate Conference. France commits to serving the Earth’s future.”

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Photo credit:  Takver and Matthew Kirby from Flickr

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