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World Climate Rallies Put Pressure On UN Summit

  • RFE/RL

People hold flags and placards on November 29 during a environmental march in Amsterdam on the eve of the official opening of a UN climate summit in Paris.

People hold flags and placards on November 29 during a environmental march in Amsterdam on the eve of the official opening of a UN climate summit in Paris.

Hundreds of thousands of people have rallied round the world to put pressure on world leaders in fighting global warming, on the eve of the UN summit in Paris.

Thousands of demonstrators gathered in central Paris on November 29 and formed a human chain along the route of a long-planned protest march, which was banned under state-of-emergency rules introduced after deadly terrorist attacks in the French capital earlier this month.

Demonstrators left a 100-meter gap in the human chain outside the Bataclan concert hall, where Islamist gunmen killed 90 people, as a mark of respect to the victims.

Instead of marching, activists placed more than 20,000 pairs of shoes in the Place de la Republique to symbolize those who couldn't gather there.

Pope Francis also donated a pair of shoes and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon left a pair of running shoes.

The AFP news agency reports that a band of anticapitalist activists gathered in the Place de la Republique and infiltrated the protests, which led to clashes with riot police in the late afternoon.

Police fired teargas at protesters, who pelted them with bottles and candles and chanted: "State of emergency, police state," referring to the state-of-emergency rules that have been imposed in France.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said that 208 people were arrested, and 174 of them remained in custody.

French President Francois Hollande said it was "scandalous" that the clashes took place at the makeshift memorials left for the November 13 attack victims.

He said the clashes had "nothing to do with those who protect the environment."

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Elsewhere, more than 45,000 people marched through the streets of Sydney and thousands marched through London, calling on world leaders to take strong action on climate change.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was among the protesters in London urging politicians to broker a binding agreement at the talks in Paris.

Demonstrations also took place in Madrid, Berlin, Sao Paulo, Mexico City, and New York.

A coalition of climate organizations said that thousands of people would take part in 2,000 events in 150 countries.

More than 140 world leaders are gathering in Paris for crucial talks aimed at securing a long-term deal to slow man-made global warming.

The UN climate conference -- which runs from November 30 to December 11 -- is under extra-high security after Islamist extremists killed 130 people around Paris on November 13.

Negotiators from 196 countries are seeking an accord that reduces man-made emissions to limit rising sea levels and increasingly extreme weather, which are already threatening populations around the world.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is meeting French President Francois Hollande on November 29 to discuss the talks, and U.S. President Barack Obama is among scores of other leaders arriving for the conference.

China is the world’s largest climate polluter, followed by the United States. U.S. President Barack Obama has promised that the U.S. will cut its overall emissions by 26-28 percent by 2030.

French President Francois Hollande says he hopes a deal can be reached, but that it will not be easy.

"Man is the worst enemy of man. We can see it with terrorism. But we can say the same when it comes to climate," he said.

With reporting by AP, AFP, dpa, BBC
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