NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Accompanied by drumbeats, wearing costumes and carrying signs, tens of thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Manhattan and other cities around the world Sunday to urge policy makers to take action on climate change.

The People’s Climate March, which included celebrities Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Sting and Evangeline Lilly, wound through Midtown, joined along the way by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, former Vice President Al Gore and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Well you can’t help but bring people’s attention to how many people care,” Catherine Gray, with League of Women told CBS 2’s Steve Langford.

PHOTOS: People’s Climate March

The march was one of a series of events large and small held around the world — organizers said 40,000 marches took part in an event in London, while a small gathering in Cairo featured 50-foot art piece representing wind and solar energy — two days before the United Nations Climate Summit.

More than 120 world leaders will convene Tuesday for the meeting aimed at galvanizing political will for a new global climate treaty by the end of 2015.

Marchers in Manhattan held signs and protested various concerns — from fracking, to fossil fuels, to clean water, WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported.

One demonstrator said time is running out to take action, that something needs to be done now if future generations hope to be able to live on the planet.

Some say that action is within reach if politicans and corporations have the right financial incentives to explore renewable energy sources.

“It’s time to tell President Obama, the premier of China, all the industrial nations of the world that we’ve got to change to renewable energy,” one protester from upstate New York told 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern.

One activist told CBS 2’s Langford he marched because that’s what gives people power.

“We don’t have the money to combat that kind of power of apocalyptic forces, the ignorance and greed,” Robert Kennedy Jr. said. “What we have is people power and that’s why we need to put these people out on the street and tell the politicians that we’re not going to take it anymore.”

Five hours after the event had begun thousands continued to march, Langford reported.

“I think it’s going to help raise awareness and show that there’s a unified voice around creating change and climate justice,” said Far Rockaway resident Silaka Cox.

“We want action now. We want the world to take notice. This is not something we’re going to take lying down,” said Hillsborough, New Jersey resident Alexander Toke.

At one point, the march briefly came to a halt, as demonstrators held a moment silence for what they described as victims of the climate crisis. They then launched into a minute of cheering and applause as they said they were sounding the climate alarm.

The march also coincided with New York’s annual climate week, which will include a string of events this week, some featuring celebrities, CEOs and climatologists.

On Sunday, Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a plan to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions in the city by 2050.

The New York march drew people from all over the country. A contingent from Moore, Oklahoma — where a massive tornado killed 24 last year — took part, as did hundreds of New Yorkers affected by Superstorm Sandy, which the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the British meteorological office was made more likely by climate change.

Myrtle E. Williams, a nurse at a nursing home in the Rockaways, said Sandy was a “real eye opener.” The storm nearly two years ago “made people wake up and say this is real devastating,” she says.

Williams said Sandy brought home the devastation people usually see on television from far away, like the Asian tsunamis and the hurricanes that hit southern states.

“I think people are becoming more aware when it happens to them,” she said. “When it comes to your door, you can equate with other people who are going through something just as devastating.”

Now the question she asks: “Can we make a change so that this will never happen again?”

In London, celebrities including actress Emma Thompson and musician Peter Gabriel joined tens of thousands of people in the march through the capital’s center.

Campaigners marched through the streets chanting: “What do we want? Clean energy. When do we want it? Now.”

Speaking at the start of the march, Thompson said: “This is important for every single person on the planet, which is why it has to be the greatest grass roots movement of all time.

“This is the battle of our lives. We’re fighting for our children,” she said.

In Australia, thousands of people marched in cities across the country on Sunday as part of a global day of action on climate change. The largest rally was in Melbourne, where an estimated 10,000 people took to the streets with banners and placards calling on the Australian government to do more to combat global warming.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was a particular target of the protesters. Abbott’s center-right coalition has removed a carbon tax and has restricted funding for climate change bodies since coming to power last year.

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