New York climate march draws hundreds of thousands

Barbara Goldberg and Natasja Sheriff Reuters Yahoo News 21 Sep 14;

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An international day of action on climate change brought hundreds of thousands of people onto the streets of New York City on Sunday, easily exceeding organizers' hopes for the largest protest on the issue in history.

Organizers estimated that some 310,000 people, including United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, actor Leonardo DiCaprio and elected officials from the United States and abroad joined the People's Climate March, ahead of Tuesday's United Nations hosted summit in the city to discuss reducing carbon emissions that threaten the environment.

The New York rally, the largest single protest ever held on the topic of climate change, followed similar events in 166 countries including Britain, France, Afghanistan and Bulgaria.

"The march numbers are beating our wildest expectations," said Ricken Patel, executive director of activist group Avaaz, which organized the march. "In 2,500 marches from Paris to Bogota, we've blown past expected numbers. Climate change is not a green issue anymore, it's an everybody issue."

The march wound down at 6:30 p.m. ET (2230 GMT) and cleaning crews moved in as police reopened the street to traffic. A few handfuls of people remained on sidewalks, singing and chanting in the evening, but most participants were headed home.

A New York Police Department spokesman said there were no arrests or incidents during the demonstration. The police department does not provide crowd size estimates.

Organizers said another 270,000 people had participated in related events outside New York.

During the demonstration the crowd, including U.S. senators Bernard Sanders, an independent from Vermont and Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, marched along the city's Central Park, through midtown Manhattan to Times Square and stopped for a moment of silence at 12:58 p.m. (1658 GMT).

Ban, wearing a T-shirt that read "I'm for climate action" marched arm-in-arm with British primatologist Jane Goodall and French Ecology Minister Segolene Royal.

"This is the planet where our subsequent generations will live," Ban told reporters. "There is no 'Plan B,' because we do not have 'Planet B.'"

The march resounding with drums, horns and chants that had echoed off skyscrapers easily dwarfed the raucous 2009 demonstration on climate change in Copenhagen, which drew tens of thousands of people that resulted in the detention of 2,000 protesters.

The march comes days after the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that August 2014 was the warmest on record, some 1.35 degrees Fahrenheit (0.75 C) above the 20th century global average of 60.1 F (15.6 C).

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday unveiled a new plan for the city to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent from 2005 levels by 2050.

All 3,000 major city-owned buildings would be retrofitted with energy saving heating, cooling and light systems by then, he said, though meeting the commitment will also require significant investments by private landlords.

DiCaprio marched towards the front of the group, with members of an Ecuadorean tribe who have fought a years-long legal battle with Chevron Corp over Amazon pollution.

"This is the most important issue of our time," DiCaprio said. "I'm incredibly proud to be here."

(Additional reporting by Louis Charbonneau at the United Nations and Kylie MacLellan in London; Editing by Scott Malone, Bill Trott, William Hardy, Marguerita Choy and Diane Craft)

Climate change summit: Global rallies demand action
Laura Westbrook BBC News 21 Sep 14;

Street protests demanding urgent action on climate change have attracted hundreds of thousands of marchers in more than 2,000 locations worldwide.

The People's Climate March is campaigning for curbs on carbon emissions, ahead of the UN climate summit in New York next week.

In Manhattan, organisers said some 310,000 people joined a march that was also attended by UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

Earlier, huge demonstrations took place in Australia and Europe.

"This is the planet where our subsequent generations will live," Mr Ban told reporters. "There is no 'Plan B' because we do not have 'Planet B'."

The UN Secretary General was accompanied by primatologist Jane Goodall and the French Ecology Minister, Segolene Royal.

New York hosted the largest of Sunday's protests, drawing more than half of the 600,000 marchers estimated by organisers to have taken part in rallies around the world.

Manhattan echoed to the sound of chants, horns and drums as the colourful protest progressed through the streets.

Organisers of the Manhattan event said it surpassed the largest previous protest on climate change.

They said the massive mobilisation was aimed at transforming climate change "from an environmental concern to an everybody issue".

Business leaders, environmentalists and celebrities joined the demonstration.

Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio also took part, having been appointed as a UN representative on climate change last week.
Analysis: Roger Harrabin, BBC Environment analyst

Another protest, another climate conference - will this time be any different?

Well, the marches brought more people on to the streets than ever before, thanks to the organisational power of the social media site Avaaz.

And the climate talks will also be influenced by technology, as it was reported this week that the sun and wind can often generate power as cheaply as gas in the home of fossil fuels, Texas.

Certainly the UN's Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, hopes that he can make a fresh start in the endless blame-your-neighbour round of climate talks.

Next year world leaders are due to show up in Paris to settle a global climate deal based not on a bitterly-contested chiselling negotiation in the middle of the night, but on open co-operative offers of action to tackle a shared problem.

Mr Ban has invited leaders to New York to make their offers public. Some small nations will doubtless make new contributions to the carbon contraction effort as they realise the vulnerability of their own economies to a hotter world.

But some big players may continue the game of climate poker, holding back their offers until they see what else is on the table.

So there is no guarantee that Ban's idea will work - but at least for weary climate politics watchers it will be a change.

The New York rally was part of a global protest that included events in 156 countries - Afghanistan, the UK, Italy and Brazil among them.

=In London, the march attracted an estimated 40,000 people, including actress Emma Thompson who likened the threat from climate change to a Martian invasion
=Some 30,000 people marched in Melbourne, Australia. Demonstrators urged Prime Minister Tony Abbott to take action, citing fears that climate change could lead to more bushfires and droughts
=Organisers said more than 25,000 marched in Paris
=About 15,000 people marched in Berlin. Organisers urged world leaders to recognise climate change as a pressing problem
=In Rio de Janeiro, some 5,000 marchers turned out. Environmental slogans and a green heart were projected onto the famed statue of Christ the Redeemer, overlooking the city
=Smaller protests - attracting numbers in the hundreds or low thousands - were also seen in cities such as Bogota, Barcelona, Jakarta and Delhi

On Tuesday, the UN will host a climate summit at its headquarters in New York with 125 heads of state and government - the first such gathering since the unsuccessful climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009.

Mr Ban hopes leaders can make progress on a universal agreement to be signed by all nations at the end of 2015.