Northern Ireland

COP21: Hundreds take part in Belfast rally on climate change

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Media captionThe Belfast rally was one of hundreds that took place across the world on Sunday

Several hundred people have attended a climate change rally in Belfast.

It was one of hundreds that took place around the world on the eve of a UN climate summit in Paris.

The conference, known as COP21, starts on Monday and will try to craft a long-term deal to limit carbon emissions.

James Orr, of Friends of the Earth, said climate change was one of the "greatest challenges" facing modern society.

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Image caption A service of prayer for climate justice took place at St Anne's Cathedral before the rally

The Met Office has said 2015 is likely to be the warmest year on record.

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan is set to attend the climate summit in Paris as part of a delegation from the UK.

Representatives of a number of groups opposed to fossil fuel development across Northern Ireland also attended the Belfast protest.

The rally was organised by groups working on climate change, including Christian Aid, Friends of the Earth, Oxfam Ireland, Queen's University Students' Union and Trócaire.

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Image caption Demonstrators gathered in Writers' Square where climate activists gave speeches

It was preceded by an ecumenical service of prayer and reflection for climate justice at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast.

Rev Michael Parker, the canon of St Anne's Cathedral, said people had a "moral obligation to care for the world and all of its people".

"Climate change threatens all we hold dear and the message from today's service and rally is we must join together as churches, workers, activists and leaders to respond now," he added.

Christine McCartney, of Oxfam Ireland, said: "It is fantastic to see so many people from Northern Ireland come out to stand shoulder to shoulder with people around the world demanding action on climate change ahead of tomorrow's UN talks."

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