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The Paris Climate March Was Canceled, So Protestors Sent Their Shoes Instead

Hundreds of thousands of people gathered across the globe to protest climate change.

A seemingly locked down Paris has not stopped climate change activists from making their voices heard both locally and around the world. In the wake of this month’s terrorist attacks across the city, a planned march around the issue of climate change was canceled amid fears of public safety.

The march was planned to coincide with the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference which begins Nov. 30 and runs through Dec. 11 in Paris. The purpose of the conference is to create a legally binding and universal agreement on climate to be adopted by all nations across the globe. This agreement would be the first of its kind in more than 20 years.

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The conference comes at a critical moment on the planet as 2015 will go down as the warmest year on record. From catastrophic earthquakes to powerful tsunamis to off-season tornadoes and unbearable, unseasonable temperatures wreaking havoc on countries across the globe, the impact and repercussions of climate change have never been so present.

More than 570,000 people have marched in 2,300 events in 175 countries around the world with additional events planned in Vancouver and Mexico City. Organizers predict more than 600,000 people will eventually march in total, making it the largest collective protest about climate change ever.

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The largest march was to take place in Paris. To symbolize the missing protestors, activists in Paris laid out 10,000 pairs of shoes in the Place de la Republique. “Each of these shoes represents an ordinary citizen,” the Avaaz executive director, Emma Ruby-Sachs, said in a video via Climate Home. “It’s kind of an incredible monument both to the voices that have been silenced and also to that hope for action that comes out of this city."

Pope Francis and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon were among the many to donate pairs of shoes. “As the world gathers in Paris to stand up for climate action, let us also stand in the shoes of all victims of terrorism, war and persecution … and respond with compassion,” said Ki-moon in a statement to the U.N.