Upcoming climate protests will be “biggest in history”

Activists plan over 2,000 actions on weekend ahead of landmark UN climate summit

Women wearing the masks of G8 leaders join climate change protest in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in 2008 (Pic: Caroline Gluck/Oxfam)

Women wearing the masks of G8 leaders join climate change protest in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in 2008 (Pic: Caroline Gluck/Oxfam)

By Sophie Yeo

Climate protests taking place this weekend are shaping up to be the “biggest in history”, say the activists behind the movement.

According to environmental group  350.org, over 2,000 events are planned in 150 countries for 21 September, by activists seeking to exert pressure on global leaders for more ambitious action on climate change.

The “People’s Climate March” is taking place two days before a landmark summit at the UN’s New York headquarters, where high ranking officials from 162 countries will tell Secretary General Ban Ki-moon how they plan to ramp up action on climate change.

It is one of the final chances for meaningful pledges on climate change ahead of a 2015 conference in Paris, where leaders have agreed to sign an international deal on climate change.

Over 1,000 groups have signed up to take part in protests, including seasoned protesters such as Greenpeace, alongside more left-field groups such as the Norwegian Grandparents Climate Campaign and a Jewish Farm School.

Yeb Sano, the climate commissioner for the Philippines, said that the march was a “crucial moment in history”. He told RTCC: “What we want is to tell leaders that climate change is a serious issue that must be confronted head on with urgency and great ambition.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has written a prayer ahead of the summit:

“We pray for our leaders, custodians of Mother Earth;
as they gather in New York City at the climate talks
May they negotiate with wisdom and fairness,
May they act with compassion and courage,
and lead us in the path of justice for the sake of our children and our children’s children.”

And a further 30 celebrities have backed the campaign, including actor Edward Norton, Prince Albert II of Monaco, and footballer Lionel Messi.


The UN yesterday confirmed a list of leaders of states and governments confirmed to attend the summit. This includes Barack Obama, David Cameron and Francois Hollande.

China will send its vice premier Zhang Gaoli in place of President Xi Jinping, while Narendra Modi and Vladimir Putin are also skipping the summit.

Highlights from the weekend of planned activities include:

New YorkWhere the biggest march is expected, where over 100,000 protesters are expected to take to the streets.

BrazilThousands are expected to march on the beaches of Ipanema, with images broadcast on Rio’s statue of Christ the Redeemer in the week before the march.

TanzaniaThe Maasai plan to march from their ancient homelands in the Serengeti in a call for action.

Papua New GuineaPrimary school students will march to a lighthouse which has become semi-submerged due to rising sea levels.

AustraliaA group will walk 700km from Melbourne to Canberra, arriving at the Parliament to raise awareness about climate impacts.

“The scale, pace, and power of the organizing happening right now is something that we haven’t seen before,” said May Boeve, executive director of the international climate campaign at 350.org.

“People realize that we can’t leave the fate of the planet up to our politicians. We need to come together, raise our voices, and apply pressure where it counts.”

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