Thousands join climate change march in New York

New York, New York City Sunday was the scene of a huge and colourful demonstration against climate change with more than 300,000 people turning out as part of an international initiative to raise awareness about the dangers of global warming.

Preliminary estimates given by organisers said that 310,000 people showed up for the peaceful march, making it one of the largest protests ever held in the Big Apple and certainly the largest in history on the topic of climate change.

Attending the huge gathering were representatives of ecological groups, unions and New York communities, as well as whole families and citizens of all ethnicities, nationalities and economic circumstances, joining together in a huge street party bringing bright colours, hand-lettered signs and assorted musical rhythms to the city streets.

Among those on hand for the march was Graciela Arias, a Kuna Indian dressed in traditional style from Panama's Caribbean archipelago of San Blas, who spoke with Efe while she rested on a curb after the march.

She wanted to join the march, along with others from San Blas, to express her concern about climate change, having noticed that the higher and higher tides presumably caused by global warming are flooding some of her archipelago's 365 islands.

Also on hand was Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, from the Marshall Islands in the Pacific, an archipelago that is just two meters above sea level and, due to global warming, is in danger of being inundated. "We do not want to move from the islands," she said.

The march began in a corner of Central Park and, after participants wended their way along New York streets for three hours, ended in the western part of the city.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, wearing a blue cap and a T-shirt that read "I'm for climate action" and accompanied by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, also participated in the march, along with former US Vice President Al Gore and actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

The march was held just two days prior to the start of the UN-sponsored summit here to discuss reducing carbon emissions, a conference to be attended by about 100 heads of state who are also in the city to take part in the upcoming UN General Assembly meeting.

Organisers said that another 270,000 people participated in related events outside New York City.

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