UN Summit Triggers Global Climate Protests

By Isla Lamont
International News Writer

Hundreds of thousands of protesters around the world are marching to protest climate change. As the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) began to assemble in Paris on November 29, rallies also congregated on the streets of France’s capital. Other demonstrations followed, with more than 2,400 events around the world taking place over the weekend.

The objective is to encourage world leaders to reach a legally binding decision on how to reduce carbon gas emissions, impose new forms of green energy, and slow global warming overall by Dec. 11, the summit’s closing date.

In Paris, the protesters faced additional challenges after the attacks on Nov. 13, Parisian security and police authorities were on high alert as thousands of citizens filled the streets and 130 world leaders and negotiators from 195 countries began arriving. Reports of violence on both sides flooded social media, with tweets showing officers in riot gear pelted with bricks, and protesters bombarded with tear gas.

Some larger protest groups have been asked by police to disperse from public spaces due to safety concerns. The right to public assembly has been temporarily suspended since the attacks. Over 200 demonstrators have been arrested so far, the majority of which are reportedly not environmentalists, but rather smaller factions of people protesting the recent attacks and the ban on public assembly.

One march planned to end at the French capital was called off. In solidarity to the 130 lives lost in the attacks, hundreds of Parisian protesters instead formed a “human chain” by linking arms along the previously proposed route, leaving a gap in front of the Bataclan concert hall where the majority of citizens were murdered. Hundreds of people left pairs of shoes in the Place de la Republique, including U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Pope Francis, who made papal history earlier this year by releasing an Encyclical on the importance of fighting climate change.

50,000 individuals also marched in London, where Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn addressed the demonstrators. Politicians in Sydney, Australia declared over social media that “at least 45,000” protesters had broken the record for the biggest march in the city, according to the BBC.
The Marshall Islands, a U.S. territory in the Pacific, also held protests. The small islands are predicted to be one of those most effected by rising sea levels. Marches also took place at the equator line in Kenya and across a glacier in southern Chile.

Individuals are also making contributions. Climatologist Erlend Moster Knudsen is making a statement by running from Norway to Paris. He began the journey four months ago, according to CNN.

As of Saturday, Dec. 5, a draft for an agreement has been reached in Paris, but no official or legally binding efforts have been decided. The protesters declaring “Do not leave Paris without a strong agreement” have more miles to march.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, December 8th print edition.

Contact Isla at
rachel.lamont@student.shu.edu

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