Activists from the Extinction Rebellion group installed a yellow boat on Leeds Bridge, near the Bridgewater Place skyscraper, painted with the words "Planet before profit". They called for charges to be dropped against more than 1,000 people arrested during climate protests earlier this year.
Extinction Rebellion is demanding that the United Kingdom government prevents further losses to biodiversity and commits to producing net zero greenhouse gases by 2025.
The group kicked off five days of disruption in Bristol, Glasgow, Cardiff, London, and Leeds with today's demonstrations for climate action.
"We also stand in solidarity with climate activists around the world who are sacrificing their freedom to fight for climate justice", it added.
Modelled on civil disobedience campaigns such as the USA civil rights movement and Britain's Suffragettes, Extinction Rebellion has pushed climate up the agenda in Britain, where parliament declared a symbolic "climate emergency" in May.
Extinction Rebellion wants non-violent civil disobedience to force governments to cut carbon emissions and avert a climate crisis it says will bring starvation and social collapse.
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Wilf, a 50-year-old teacher who did not give his surname, said: "We've all read the science, we know the story, the whole phase of denial is over, and if it takes civil disobedience to make a difference, then so be it".
West Yorkshire Police say they will allow lawful protests but have warned businesses in the city centre that they may face disruption.
Bristol said it had closed Bristol Bridge due to the protests and South Wales Police said roads in Cardiff city center were blocked. In Leeds, protesters set up tents on Victoria Bridge to block vehicles from crossing the River Aire.
The "Summer Uprising" campaign saw the group stage a "die out" at the National Museum of Ireland on Merrion Street, before carrying out temporary road blockades around Tara Street and Bachelor's Walk.
"Now we're out of time and we can see climate breakdown all around us".