LONDON – Celebrities and activists dressed as polar bears joined hundreds of thousands of people in colourful protests across the globe Sunday to demand action on climate change, telling world leaders on the eve of a UN summit that there is “no planet B.”
From Sydney to London, Rio de Janeiro to New York, at least 683,000 people hit the streets in 2,300 events across 175 countries at the weekend in the largest number of people to protest over climate change all at once.
“There is no planet B,” “Our Children Need a Future” and “We Want 100 per cent Clean Energy” read signs across the world.
Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood also took part in the London march as leaders from 150 countries prepared to meet in Paris to make a plan to cut emissions.
British actress Emma Thompson, who has campaigned against oil drilling in the Arctic, said she had seen the effects of climate change during a visit there last year.
“It helped me understand in a much more real way what was happening to the planet,” she told AFP.
“So I’m here today to really get behind the climate summit in Paris, which is actually a really historical event.”
The people-powered protests kicked off with marches across Australia, with 45,000 gathering in Sydney.
In Copenhagen, Denmark, which hosted the previous UN climate summit in 2009, some 5,000 people marched to parliament.
Four of the protesters were dressed as polar bears to promote a sculpture they will bring to Paris this week, depicting a dead bear covered in oil.
Rain failed to dampen spirits in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where 7,000 joined a march, accompanied by drum bands and dancers.
In true Dutch fashion, many turned out on their bikes to highlight pedal power as a means of sustainable energy.
In Paris, France, where a planned demo was cancelled over security concerns, activists responded by forming a human chain and placing empty shoes on a central square.
Thousands also linked hands in Brussels, urging leaders to reach a climate agreement.
“I hope that this chain shakes all the politicians in Europe and the rest of the world into forging a deep and sincere deal,” said demonstrator Stephane Eelens.
In Mexico City, about 1,000 people marched to the main square, carrying flowers, balloons and banners with slogans such as, “I take care of my planet.”
And in New York, hundreds of people shrugged off the winter cold. Some chose to dress as Santa Claus, holding signs reading: “CHRISTMAS CANCELLED DUE TO MELTING NORTH POLE.”