Largest Climate March in History Calls World Leaders to Action
New York City saw the largest climate march in history on Sunday, with a reported 300,000 people hitting the streets for The People’s Climate March.
The demonstration took place just days before world leaders gathered to debate environmental action at the United Nations Climate Summit. 120 world leaders were said to be in attendance, including President Barack Obama.
The Four Mile Long March
According to the New York Times, similar marches were held around the world, “from Paris to Papua New Guinea.” Attendees were diverse, including students, scientists, religious organizations and even politicians such as Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) and Charles Schumer (D-NY). U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and former Vice President Al Gore were also in attendance.
According to the U.N. Climate Summit 2014’s website, last Saturday night, the north face of the UN Secretariat building, and part of the General Assembly Building were “transformed into canvases for images – some of them 30 stories high – related to the topic of climate change” to begin the conversation that would be echoed in the next day’s march.
Just before noon the next morning, demonstrators gathered in New York City’s Columbus Circle, near Central Park. As the march moved through Midtown Manhattan, the march was comprised of more than 4 miles of demonstrators carrying signs, drums and banners, with their chants echoing through the skyscrapers. According to the New York Times, participants toward the back of the march were still waiting to move at 1:30 p.m. – nearly two hours after the demonstration began.
Just before 1 p.m., demonstrators paused for a moment of silence on Avenue of the Americas near 57th Street. When the clock struck 1 p.m., the crowd erupted, symbolically “raising the alarm” on climate change. The intense sound bellowed through Manhattan for one straight minute with cheers, whistles and drumbeats.
The march itself was organized by a dozen of environmental, labor and social justice groups, including the Sierra Club, 350.org and the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, among others and in coalition with more than 1,500 partner organizations.
An Opportune Time to Organize A March
On Sunday, the Associated Press reported that environmental studies were published showing that the world had emitted more carbon pollution in the air last year, than ever before. The results estimated that the world produced 39.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air last year by burning coal, oil and gas. This is a 2.3% increase than the year before.
The U.S., China and India are the top three major emitters, however both India and China had already announced that leaders representing their nations’ will not be in attendance at the UN Climate Summit Tuesday.
According to AP, the U.S. had seen a decrease in its carbon emissions over the last “four or five years,” however, that amount quickly rose last year as a result of the recovering economy.
For us San Franciscans, no, it isn’t just our imagination – the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed last week that this summer was the hottest on record for the entire planet. The months of June, July and August are set to break the record for the hottest year that was set in 2010.
It is Time to Be Heard: The Demonstration’s Statement
Organizers and demonstrators are hopeful that the sheer size of the protest alone, combined with the information released in the last week, will finally be enough to push for serious legislative change to help combat environmental damage, specifically carbon emissions, the heat trapping gasses that constitute global warming.
With the UN Summit just days away, climate change supporters hope that their message has come across loud enough to influence the world policy makers that will meet Tuesday. The meeting this week is expected to be followed by a possible global conclusion on emissions late next year in Paris, according to the New York Times.
How Does San Francisco Stack Up on Climate Change?
In 2002, San Francisco initiated the San Francisco Climate Action Plan, a greenhouse gas reduction initiative that planned to reduce the city’s green house gas emissions to 20% below the 1990 levels, by 2012.
The office of Mayor Edwin Lee reported in 2011 that the city had achieved its goal, though many environmentalists challenged the calculations. An analysis by The Bay Citizen allegedly showed that “the real decrease in carbon emissions may only be one-fourth the percentage cited by the city.”
Either way, San Francisco is often the city leading the way when it comes to forward-thinking policies to reduce its carbon footprint, protect the environment and address climate change – especially over the last decade. Mayor Lee’s office said one of the main contributors to the emissions decrease was the closure of the Hunters Point power plant in 2006 and the Portrero power plant in 2010, in exchange for linking to more efficient plants in Contra Costa County. The plants are linked to San Francisco via the Trans Bay Cable, a massive 53-mile underwater power chord.
Do You Have Other Solutions and Ideas?
If so, we want to hear it! Like many San Franciscans, we here at Reset are also committed to sustainable climate change. Help us out – contribute your ideas and solutions in the comments below!