A march planned as a side event of the COP17 climate talks got underway in Durban on Saturday morning.
COP17 President Maite Nkoana-Mashabane promised thousands of protesters that the international climate change conference underway in Durban would deliver tangible outcomes.
Speaking from the back of a small truck outside the centre, she told the crowd, who had marched across the city centre to hand over demands, that the conference would “not just become another gathering”.
Just before noon, thousands of people gathered at Dr Pixley Kaseme Street in Durban to demonstrate their views on climate change.
The march would progress past Durban’s International Convention Centre, where the conference is taking place.
The marchers will be addressed by a range of speakers including Congress of SA Trade Unions General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.
Speeches handed over
These speeches would then be collectively handed over to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change secretary Christiana Figueres at 1pm.
Four police Nyalas and a big water canon preceded the march, while police in full body armour lined the route and a police spotter plane and helicopter were visible overhead.
The marchers—from civil society, organised labour, faith-based organisations, as well as artists and musicians—noisily but peacefully began their trek.
They were bemused by police at the head of the procession, who consulted a map moments before the march began.
Various groups including Green Peace and Canadians for Climate Justice waved signs and banners.
Carnival atmosphere, serious sentiment
Despite the carnival atmosphere, the sentiments displayed on placards were uncompromising: “Act now against cop killers like Eskom,” and “No to nuclear energy”.
Another called for Sasol and Eskom to be excluded from the COP17 talks.
A large white banner carried at the head of the procession read: “Unite against climate change”.
Protesters also marched towards the US Embassy during observance of World Climate Day on Saturday in Manila, Philippines.—Sapa-AP
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