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Live Earth’ global climate change concerts delayed

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PARIS (AFP) – Organisers of Live Earth, a set of global concerts backed by Al Gore aimed at pushing for urgent action on climate change, announced a delay Friday, weeks before the scheduled date.

Live Earth had intended shows on each inhabited continent for June 18 featuring more than 100 artists to raise pressure for a strong agreement at a UN-led climate conference in Paris at the end of the year.

Representatives, however, said that no events would take place that day, and instead a free concert would be held near the Eiffel Tower in Paris sometime in the autumn.

Live Earth said the change would “best reflect the global demand for climate action.”

“We are excited to announce that this shift in timing allows us to host a free, public concert,” it said in a statement.

Live Earth representatives said that they still planned events around the world but did not specify whether they would be full-fledged concerts.

Live Earth was initially intended to consist of concerts on June 18 in Australia, Brazil, China, South Africa and the United States, as well as Paris.

But despite an active social media presence, organisers had yet to reveal any ticket arrangements or artists other than “Happy” creator Pharrell Williams, who was involved in the planning.

An earlier set of Live Earth global concerts took place on July 7, 2007, bringing together more than 150 artists including Madonna, Shakira, Bon Jovi, Metallica and Rihanna along with reunited classic groups Genesis and The Police.

The concerts — in Hamburg, Johannesburg, London, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Shanghai, Sydney and Tokyo — helped raise momentum amid growing warnings from scientists on the long-term effects of climate change.

But the concerts also drew criticism — notably from rocker Bob Geldof, the founder of the 1985 Live Aid concerts for Ethiopian famine relief, who said the goals were too abstract.

Live Earth promised that it would still put on a major event later this year, backed by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, which would feature “countless artists.”

“We will host an event which transcends social and cultural barriers, matches the scale of the challenge we face and enables us to maximise our impact on the issue,” the statement said.

Gore, the former US vice president turned champion of action against climate change, had announced the June 18 concerts alongside Pharrell Williams at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January.

“The purpose is to have a billion voices with one message to demand climate action now,” Gore said at the time.

Williams had promised “some interesting surprises coming up” in the lineup.

“We are literally going to have humanity harmonised all at once,” he said.

The Paris talks are aimed at sealing a global agreement to keep global warming to within two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels.

Scientists warn that the window for reaching the goal, and preventing the worst consequences of climate change, is fast narrowing.

World leaders including US President Barack Obama and the French hosts have voiced hope for an agreement on a global action plan during the Paris talks, which are scheduled to run from November 30 to December 11.

The US Live Earth concert had been expected at the MetLife stadium in New Jersey of the New York Giants football team, whose former venue hosted the 2007 edition.

In 2007, Gore at the last minute managed to secure a second US venue on the National Mall in Washington.

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