Heads of nation and climate negotiators may have been expecting a huge crowd of activists at the United Nations summit on climate change set to begin on Monday. Instead, they'll see shoes. Which, fortunately, will not be chucked at them. On Sunday, more than 600,000 people in 175 countries took to the streets to press for strong decisions during the summit and to demand a swift shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
A large protest march scheduled to be held in Paris was cancelled owing to security reasons following the terrorist attacks of November 13. As a symbolic protest, an installation of over 20,000 "marching" shoes was put up at the Place de la Republiqué.
Organised by Avaaz.org an online activist organisation, the pile of footware was left open to the public to add to. The Pope and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon also participated. Ban Ki-moon's shoes carried the message, "As the world gathers in Paris to stand up for climate action, let us also stand in the shoes of victims of terrorism, war and persecution – and respond with compassion."
The original protests would have had some 200,000 people marching. Avaaz.org is adding details of linked protests around the world to demand stronger decisions on limiting the emission of greenhouse gases. India, along with China and the US, constitute the world's top three carbon-emitting countries.
Besides this peaceful symbolic protest, there were also some violent ones, with the police in Paris arresting around 200 people after clashes with anti-capitalists and anarchists.