WATERVILLE — A group of Waterville-area residents gathered Sunday in front of the Universalist Unitarian Church to advocate for action on climate change and to draw attention to the upcoming United Nations climate talks.

“We’re out here to celebrate Obama canceling the Keystone XL pipeline and highlighting the importance of the upcoming Paris climate talks,” said Richard Thomas, a member of 350 Central Maine. “We have to raise the issue of climate change again and again. People are accepting that climate change is real.”

Sunday’s vigil was put on by 350 Central Maine, the local branch of the international climate change advocacy group, 350.org. About 20 people held signs and waved to passing cars from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference will be held in Paris from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11. Advocates who back action on climate change hope that world leaders at the conference will create a legally binding universal agreement on combating the causes and effects of climate change.

“The climate talks in Paris … are hopeful because the world is starting to really take action to reduce climate change,” Thomas said.

Despite the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, a U.N. official told the New York Times that 120 world leaders have confirmed that they will attend.

Because of heightened security, the French government is prohibiting the 350.org Global Climate March that had been planned in Paris for Nov. 29. But the international organization is promoting marches worldwide to coincide with the climate talks.

350 Central Maine organizers said similar vigils and marches are planned across Maine and New England for the week leading up to the climate talks.

“People think that climate change is an abstract problem, that they can’t do anything to change it or fix it, that it’s something out there that doesn’t affect us here. That’s why it’s so important to bring awareness to areas like here in central Maine with a vigil like this,” said Linda Woods, a member of 350 Central Maine and organizer of Sunday’s vigil.

People held signs made by 350 Central Maine member Danielle Hodgkins that read “Renewable Energy Now,” “Go Green in Paris,” “Save our Future” and “Carbon Fee in Paris.” People who drove by honked their horns in support.

The group had been prepared to protest the Keystone XL oil pipeline, a proposed 1,179-mile pipeline that would have brought 800,000 barrels a day of crude oil from Canada and North Dakota to Nebraska, where existing pipelines would bring it to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

However, President Obama announced on Nov. 6 that he had rejected the request from a Canadian company to build the pipeline, effectively ending the seven-year fight over the project. Signs made to protest the pipeline were left by the wayside Sunday with people instead holding signs that said “Thanks Obama!”

In 2013, 350 Central Maine member Iver Lofving participated in 350.org’s “Forward on Climate Rally” in Washington, D.C., where more than 35,000 people marched to the White House calling for Obama to reject the pipeline. In the wake of Obama’s decision, Lofving said he feels the work of climate change activists is slowly being validated.

“There’s hope in the air,” Lofving said Sunday. “It really feels like something could happen.”

The group was hopeful about next week’s climate talks, but said that in order to keep up with the negative effects of climate change, any resolutions made at the conference needed to be aggressive.

“It is scary that the pledges that the U.S. and other governments have made are not yet strong enough to stop the threat of climate change,” Thomas said. “To keep things livable for our grandchildren, we will need to stop burning fossil fuels very rapidly, more rapidly than world governments are now pledging to do.”

Thomas said he favors establishing a carbon fee that would tax fossil fuels at the source, whether it be the oil well or when it is imported over the border. Because the fuel would be taxed, prices would go up, but Thomas said the revenue from the fee could be rebated back to Americans.

“Leaving a habitable world to all of our grandchildren is our most important moral responsibility,” Thomas said. “We are here today because it’s time for all of us to speak out and demand more effective action.”

350 Central Maine plans another vigil to be held Dec. 6, halfway through the climate talks.