Climate activists demonstrate in downtown Minneapolis

Patty O'Keefe
Patty O'Keefe, Divestment Coordinator at the environmental group Minnesota 350, tells demonstrators gathered in downtown Minneapolis on Saturday morning that stricter controls on greenhouse gas emissions are necessary.
Jon Collins | MPR News

As world leaders wrapped up climate talks in Paris on Saturday, more than 100 climate activists demonstrated in downtown Minneapolis.

Many demonstrators in Minneapolis drew a circle around one eye with a pen or marker. Claire Curran of Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light, which helped organize the event, said the circle represents their commitment to ending the use of fossil fuels worldwide in the next 25 years.

Curran said there's increasing awareness locally that climate change has direct repercussions on people in the state.

"For people of faith, they're making the connection between climate change, and hunger, and poverty and war — climate change affects these things," Curran said. "So it's become clear to people of faith that this is something we need to take action on."

The final draft of the plan being considered Saturday in France aims to keep the global temperature increase at less than 2 degrees Celsius, although many climate activists want more action.

Demonstrations supporting a reduction in fossil fuel emissions were planned all across the world on Saturday to coincide with the end of climate talks.

Lois Norrgard of Bloomington helped carry a long red banner that she said represents the line that can't be crossed without causing irreparable harm to the planet.

People are really starting to stand up and that's really important.

"People are really starting to stand up and that's really important," Norrgard said. "I'm really impressed and optimistic about what's going on in Paris."

Delegates at the climate accord have been negotiating the terms of the agreement for the last two weeks. The accord is unique in that it includes requirements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for both developing and developed countries. Negotiating countries will vote on whether to adopt the agreement later on Saturday.

Minneapolis City Council Member Cam Gordon marched with demonstrators as the group headed to a social and economic justice conference at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

He said Minneapolis' adoption of a climate action plan and clean energy partnerships put the city ahead of many others in dealing with climate change, but that more can be done.

"People are all over the globe taking a stand right now and saying, 'We're going to be united, we want to save the planet,'" Gordon said. "Climate change is real, and we need to do something now or we're going to be in big trouble."

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