Hundreds of thousands of people are marching worldwide to demand action to stop climate change, but one protest in Paris was marred by violence, BBC reports. More than 2,000 events are happening globally on the eve of a UN summit in the French capital. In Paris, police fired tear gas at a large group of demonstrators gathered in the Place de la Republique.
Our correspondent says the group was apparently protesting against France’s state of emergency. The order, banning public gatherings, was put into place after the 13 November attacks in the city, in which 130 people died. Many of those involved in the clashes wore masks or covered their faces. French media say police are now moving people from the square.
Earlier in Paris, a human chain was formed by hundreds linking arms along the 3km (1.9 miles) route of a march that was called off after the 13 November attacks. A gap in the chain was left in front of the Bataclan concert hall, where 89 people were killed. Hundreds of pairs of shoes were left on Place de la Republique to remember those left frustrated in their plans to march.
Among them were a pair donated by Pope Francis, who has called for urgent action on climate change. Elsewhere in Europe, some 5,000 people turned out in Madrid, with close to double that in Berlin. “We came from a village which is at zero metres above sea level and we don’t want to see our entire possessions become part of the depreciation of climate change,” one Berlin protester, Friedrich, told Reuters.
An estimated 50,000 people took part in a march in central London, where opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn addressed crowds. Activists want action to limit the rise in the average global temperature to 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial levels. In Sydney, many people carried placards reading “There is no Planet B” and “Solidarity on a global scale”.
Mayor Clover Moore tweeted to say that, according to organisers, the true number of demonstrators was “at least 45,000”, which would make it the biggest ever such march in Sydney, if confirmed. “Those who did the least to cause the problem are feeling the impacts first and hardest, like our sisters and brothers in the Pacific,” said Oxfam campaigner Judee Adams in a protest of some 5,000 people in Adelaide.
Further demonstrations are to be held in Sao Paulo, Mexico City and New York, among other cities. About 150 world leaders are due to attend the Paris talks including US President Barack Obama, China’s Xi Jinping, India’s Narendra Modi and Russia’s Vladimir Putin. French President Francois Hollande says he hopes a deal can be achieved, but that it will not be easy.
“Man is the worst enemy of man,” he said. “We can see it with terrorism. But we can say the same when it comes to climate. Human beings are destroying nature, damaging the environment.”