Thousands of environmentally-minded demonstrators assembled at Lafontaine Park Sunday to make a passionate appeal prior to Tuesday’s United Nation Climate Summit in New York.

The New York meeting aims to set the table for a crucial Paris conference to be held at the end of 2015 and environmentalists met in hopes that they'd embolden politicians to push for real change.

One McGill professor said that courageous approaches are required.

“I certainly hope that several countries will put ambitious emissions reduction targets on the table. We have an agreement to reduce and act on climate change but it’s not ambitious enough and countries need to send a signal to do more,” said McGill Biology Professor Catherine Potvin.

Like many in attendance, Potvin expressed regret that Prime Minister Stephen Harper opted to send his Environment Minister rather than attend himself.

“We need to have all political parties offering a road to climate change,” she said.

Another local university student said that the push for change is becoming too big to ignore.

“It’s the whole process of, 'first they ignore you, then they laugh at you then they fight you and then you win.' I think this is the first step. There were 30,000 people in Delhi, Melbourne and Bangladesh. It’s a global coming-together,” said McGill student Duncan Warltier who echoed the hope that the New York event will guide the events in the crucial Paris meeting in December 2015.

There are no borders when it comes to a decaying environment, he noted.

"This is something that affects people everywhere and we need to speak up. It’s not just ourselves that’s being affected. It’s the global south that’s being disproportionally affected by this but to show that capacity for empathy towards a fellow man and people they’ll never meet, to be able to come together and show that, that’s hopeful,” he told CTV Montreal.