Belfast climate change protestors send message to Durkan

Some of the protestors at the demonstration in Writer's Square in Belfast on Sunday
Some of the protestors at the demonstration in Writer's Square in Belfast on Sunday

Hundreds of protestors braved rain and freezing temperatures on Sunday at Writer’s Square in Belfast in a bid to demand action on climate change.

The protest was one of hundreds taking place around the world on the eve of a UN climate summit – COP21 – taking place in Paris in a bid to craft a long-term deal to limit carbon emissions.

Among those taking part was NI Green Party leader Steven Agnew who said everyone had their role to play in tackling the global problem.

“People were there to send a message to our Environment Minister (Mark H Durkan) to do all he can at the Paris talks for a global agreement and to send out the message Northern Ireland has to play its part too. This is an issue that has not gone away.”

He said a “big start” would be to have a Northern Ireland Climate Bill “which is something the Assembly supported when I put forward a motion last year but which has not yet been done”.

A number of other political figures attended the rally including Alliance Party leader David Ford and South Belfast MLA Anna Lo.

Meanwhile, James Orr, Friends Of The Earth Northern Ireland director, told the crowd of up to 200 they stood in solidarity with environmental campaigners across the world.

He said: “This event that is happening in Paris is the most decisive event in the history of humanity.

“Unless we act in 2016 to reverse global warming, we are staring into the face of global genocide.”

And Christian Aid Ireland’s head of policy and advocacy, Sorley McCaughey, said: “The Paris conference will be a crucial moment in the development and delivery of a universal climate agreement.

“However, it is only the next step, not the end of the road.”

Events were staged in more than 70 countries with one of the largest in London. Protests were also held in Dublin, Cork and Galway.

In Paris, world leaders from more than 50 countries will attempt to thrash out a deal that will tackle global warming and encourage a shift towards renewable energy.

The global climate conference – which starts on Monday – is expected to continue until December 11.

Ciara Kirrane, co-ordinator of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition, said the response to their rallies demonstrated the strength and determination of their movement.