Hundreds gathered on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro to demand an end to fossil fuel subsidies.
An online poll conducted by the United Nations found that over 66% of respondents globally put ending subsidies as their number one priority.
With negotiations entering the final phase before world leaders meet at the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, activist groups and civil society are trying to get subsidies on the agenda.
"Global subsidies given to fossil fuel companies account for nearly a trillion US dollars. These companies are the richest companies in the history of money, and are the most environmentally destructive," says Iain Keith from Avaaz who helped organise the event today.
"The current ratio of subsidies given to fossil fuels versus renewable energy is twelve to one", Keith explains.
"These subsidies are draining public resources at a time when governments around the world are cutting money for education and talking about cutting subsidies for clean energy," says Jake Schmidt of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
Schmidt co-authored a report out today that highlights how the trillion dollars spent annually on fossil fuel subsidies could be better used to end the deadly pollution created by burning fossil fuels and alleviate poverty. The report also states how eliminating these subsidies would reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by 6 percent by 2020.
"A study by the International Energy Agency found that over 80% of fossil fuel subsidies go towards the richest portion of the population, they don't go to the bottom 20%," Schmidt explains.
The sole defence of providing subsidies is to protect people dependent on fossil fuels for their livelihood. But this logic is being dismantled.
"Countries can no longer pretend that they are providing subsidies for the poor. The facts just don't match that up."
"If you really want to deal with poverty there are much better ways than fossil fuel subsidies, like giving people access to electricity or transportation," says Schmidt.
In 2009 world leaders of the G20 agreed to end fossil fuel subsidies, but in a clear abnegation of that promise they have spent up to three times as much per year according the International Energy Agency.
Instead of using taxpayers' money to subsidise oil companies, Avaaz and other groups such as the NRDC and Oil Change International are demanding a timeline, with the goal to phase out production subsidies by 2015 and consumption subsidies by 2020.
"That's more than enough time to make sure these policies don't disproportionately impact the world's poorest and most vulnerable communities."
"Unfortunately it looks like the agreement will be vague, with no timeline," laments Schmidt.
Avaaz and 350.org are currently petitioning for a million signatures that will be delivered to world leaders at Rio+20 and the G20 Summit in Mexico.
But views differ over whether any tangible change will come from the Rio+20 Conference.
While Keith was "confident" that the final international agreement will call for an end to fossil fuel subsidies, Schmidt observed that "you could have the best sounding paragraph in the agreement, but if we don't actually change the laws in these countries it won't make a bit of difference."
The real work is garnering local support in countries like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela to pressure their governments to change.
As author and activist Anna Rose concludes, "we should be taking advantage of the opportunities of the future instead of subsidising the industries of the past."
A virtual mobilisation - the 24-hour 'Twitterstorm' - was also being launched today where thousands of people worldwide will tweet with the same hashtag: #EndFossilFuelSubsidies to publicly pressure governments.
Follow Karuna Rana on Twitter: www.twitter.com/karuna_mru