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Thousands head towards Parliament House in Canberra for climate march

Thousands of people have descended on Parliament House to demand action on climate change as part of demonstrations throughout the country.

More than 6000 people attended the People's Climate March in Canberra on Sunday as world leaders prepare to meet in Paris for the United Nations climate summit on Monday.

More than 6000 people turned out for the People's Climate March in Canberra on Sunday.
More than 6000 people turned out for the People's Climate March in Canberra on Sunday. Photo: Graham Tidy

Canberra was one of more than 600 cities around the world to take part in the largest international weekend of climate action ahead of the Paris talks.

Conservation Council ACT assistant director of communications Phoebe Howe described the turnout at the Canberra march as "amazing".

Canberra was one of more than 600 cities around the world to take part in the largest international weekend of climate ...
Canberra was one of more than 600 cities around the world to take part in the largest international weekend of climate action ahead of the Paris talks. Photo: Graham Tidy

"The People's Climate March is a global movement and the main message was that ahead of Paris, people from all walks of life coming together and across their differences, showing unity in our call for real climate outcomes at Paris but also putting our leaders on notice that whatever happens in Paris, we'll be watching," she said.

"We want that Paris framework to become the first stepping stone to a real solution for our climate.

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"The main message here in Australia is that we want to move to 100 per cent clean homegrown energy as fast as possible and we want to see an end to dirty fossil fuels."

Greens Minister Shane Rattenbury attended Sunday's march and said it was clear that the community wanted action on the climate. 

Conservation Council ACT assistant director communications Phoebe Howe said the 6000-strong turnout at the Canberra ...
Conservation Council ACT assistant director communications Phoebe Howe said the 6000-strong turnout at the Canberra march was "amazing". Photo: Graham Tidy

"It was a great turnout and there was a lot of enthusiasm in the crowd and there were strong views that Australia needs to be a leader when it comes to global climate action," he said.

Mr Rattenbury said there needed to be some sort of resolution on climate action from the Paris talks. 

"The role that Canberra can play is demonstrating what is possible when you put your mind to it. We're are taking a lead in the ACT and I hope that acts as a source of inspiration to leaders from other parts of the world."  

Ms Howe said it was "hugely encouraging" to see such a strong level of support in Canberra for climate action.

"I know the Canberra community is very active, but what we saw today – that those people are willing to come out and tell leaders, internationally and nationally, that we are only going to accept strong action from them, so it is very heartening to see these numbers both here and in capital cities across Australia."

ACT Environment Minister Simon Corbell will attend the Paris climate change talks, saying previously that the reason for the ACT's presence at the high-level international conference was because the United Nations was treating climate change as an issue which could also be addressed at local level.

"The UN has for the first time actively sought the involvement of subnational governments as part of the COP21 [Conference of the Parties] discussion," he said.

"Unlike Copenhagen, the UN and the French government have recognised there needs to be a voice for subnational governments, regional governments and city governments at the table, to demonstrate the ambition that is being put in place, the programs that are being driven by city and subnational governments.

"And that needs to be recognised as part of the UN negotiations. So they are actively encouraging sub-national governments to attend.

"The ACT is increasingly recognised as a leader internationally in terms of its greenhouse gas abatements and its renewable energy targets and I will be participating in a broad range of events designed to highlight what is happening at the sub-national government level," Mr Corbell said.

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