Organizers expect the largest political demonstration in NYC in over a decade; with over 1,500 solidarity events planned around the world
New York City — With less than two-weeks until the People’s Climate March on September 21, organizers are expecting the demonstration for climate action to be the largest political rally in New York City in over a decade, and the biggest demonstration for climate action in world history. The march is already demonstrating that climate change, once seen as a divisive issue, is becoming a unifying political concern across labor, environment, faith and justice groups.
“Climate change is the most important issue facing all of us for the rest of our lives. When our kids, and grandkids, ask ‘What did you do to help stop this disaster?’ which they will surely ask if we do not take drastic steps immediately – Machinists Union activists can say, ‘We helped save the world. We were there on September 21,’” said Connecticut State Council of Machinists President John Harrity who serves on the Steering Committee for the CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs.
The march will be notable not only for its size, but for its diversity. More than, 1,100 organizations have endorsed the march, ranging from the NAACP to SEIU, the second largest labor union in the country and the largest in New York, to Hurricane Sandy survivors and Maine fisherman joining the march by boat. In New York, neighborhood committees and local organizations from every borough are helping turn people out.
Celebrities have also begun showing support for the march, including model Helena Christensen, musician Peter Gabriel, actor Susan Sarandon, Argentine footballer Lionel Messi and actor Edward Norton. For a full list see here: 2014.peoplesclimate.org/endorsements.
New York City Council has also endorsed the march, passing a resolution on Wednesday encouraging people across the city to take part in the mobilization. People from around the world “will descend on New York City streets to let our leaders know that we can no longer turn a blind eye to this crisis,” said Council Member Donovan Richards (D-Queens) at a rally at City Hall promoting the march.
The march will take place just two days before President Obama and other world leaders are set to attend a Climate Summit at the United Nations hosted by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The summit is designed to build momentum for national and international climate action, including a new global climate treaty that will be finalized in Paris next year. March organizers say they are looking for “action, not words” at the summit.
“Climate change is threatening our environment and our economy, and we must address it immediately, and do so in a way that builds a stronger economy and creates new jobs across the country,” said Kim Glas, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance, a national partnership of labor unions and environmental organization uniting nearly 16 million members and supporters. “As world leaders gather for the UN Climate Summit, we urge immediate action to address the threat of global climate change.”
“The people of this city are serious about seeing an economy that works for both the people and the environment,” said Councilmember Donovan Richards of Queens, who introduced a resolution to endorse the People’s Climate March that will be voted on this Wednesday. “Good green jobs, clean air, and healthy communities should be accessible to everyone no matter their socioeconomic status.”
Although organizers say it’s impossible to calculate exact numbers, they are confident that the march is well on its way to being the largest and most diverse showing for climate action to date in the United States. Tens of thousands of people have already registered online at the march’s website, PeoplesClimate.org. More than 300 buses to NYC are being planned around the country, with enough seats for 17,000 people.
The organizing for the march resembles that of an electoral campaign with volunteers and field staff working full tilt at an office by Grand Central, phone-banking, setting up neighborhood canvasses, and checking in with local partners around the country. Out at a warehouse in Bushwick called the May Day space, an arts team is producing several large-scale floats, banners, puppets, and placards for the march. The organizing effort has even gone underground: the global civic organization, Avaaz, purchased ad space on 10% of the city’s subways to promote the march.
On Sunday September 21, crowds are expected to start assembling on Central Park West as far up as 86th St. beginning the morning around 9:00am. A press conference and media availability is being planned for around 10:30am (exact details pending) at Columbus Circle. The front of the march will depart at Columbus Circle at 11:30am, proceed down 59th St., turn right on 6th Ave and go down to 42nd St. Then right on 42nd St, across the bottom of Times Square, and out to 11th Avenue, where organizers are hosting a climate block party with stages, booths, and information and organizing sessions for march participants.
Cindy Wiesner, co-director of Climate Justice Alliance and Our Power Campaign: Communities United for a Just Transition: “Climate Justice Alliance members and our international allies are marching and demanding world leaders take action to move money to a Just Transition that can create millions of meaningful jobs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and put our communities back to work building the resilient infrastructure that addresses both the climate and economic crisis – from clean community power, zero waste, and local food systems, to public transit and housing families.”
Eddie Bautista, Executive Director, NYC Environmental Justice Alliance: “Climate change affects everyone, but will not impact everyone equally. The NYC Environmental Justice Alliance is proud to join the hundreds of organizations in the historic People’s Climate March to advance climate justice. It’s not every day you can help secure humanity’s future just by showing up – this will be one of those days. Join us!”
Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC): “The impacts of climate change are becoming more and more apparent with every passing year. From rising seas to extreme storms, devastating drought to heat waves — no one is immune to this public health threat. It’s time for that to change. On September 21, thousands of people will flood the streets of New York City for the largest climate march in history. And together, we will urge world leaders gathering at the United Nations to protect our children, defend our future, and change the world.”
Physicians for Social Responsibility issued the following statement: “Few threats to human health are as significant in scope as the crisis caused by climate change. As members of the medical and public health communities, we have an obligation to speak out on the health threats we are facing from deadly heat waves, air pollution, increased diseases and a myriad of other climate related health impacts. If we are to continue living on a healthy planet, we must move quickly to clean, renewable energy sources that are not derived from fossil fuels. This is why we are marching”
Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director of Uprose: “With so much at stake and a historical opportunity twelve days away, this is the time to gather family, friends and neighbors and let them know that what’s at stake is our livability, now is the time build momentum and roll in deep with our loved ones into the Peoples Climate March!”
Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club: “This isn’t just about getting a bunch of people to New York to march for an hour then go home. This is about making sure that the tipping point in the fight to halt climate disruption tips in the favor of the average citizen and clean energy prosperity, and that the world’s leaders see that the support to do so has reached a level that can no longer be ignored.”
Maura Cowley, director of Energy Action Coalition: “Students on hundreds of campuses, and thousands of youth vote leaders across the country are bringing their power and voices to the People’s Climate March to say enough is enough, we will divest from fossil fuels and build a new clean and just economy, and President Obama and world leaders better be prepared to join us, or face the political consequences.”
David Turnbull, Campaigns Director, Oil Change International: “Politicians have come together too many times with nothing more than rhetoric and empty promises in tow. Next month, thousands of true leaders will be marching on the streets of New York demanding real action. The question is, will our elected leaders follow.”
RIcken Patel, Executive Director of the 38-million member civic organization, Avaaz: “There’s a vast latent constituency of people out there who are alarmed about climate change. But for years, nobody has put up a banner that said ‘this is the time, this is the place, to show you care.’ The People’s Climate March is that banner, and we’re seeing a phenomenal response to it.”
Keya Chatterjee, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) director of renewable energy outreach: “For decades we’ve listened to government leaders at the UN voice their concerns about climate change. Next month, they’ll hear from tens of thousands of Americans demanding they finally turn that talk into action.”
Bridget Burns, Advocacy and Communications Director, Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO): “Climate change is the crisis of our times. For too long now, political posturing, greed and complacency in ‘business as usual’ has taken precedent over justice, equality, action and ambition. But change is not something which you wait for, its something that you make happen. WEDO is headed to the People’s Climate March in a spirit of common purpose with fellow women’s rights leaders, feminists and activists to demand climate justice and ignite a movement for change.”
Tomas Garduno, Political Director of ALIGN: Alliance for a Greater New York, a labor/community alliance: “Labor unions, community organizations–environmental justice, economic justice and faith groups–environmental and climate organizations have been working together more and more over the past several years. The breadth and depth of who’s working together to organize the People’s Climate March is a testament to that.”
May Boeve, Executive Director of 350.org said: “The energy buzzing around the march organizing headquarters here in New York is palpable. Every day, volunteers are hitting the phones, streets, and internet to turn people out. This effort has already helped build the type of movement infrastructure we need to take the climate fight to the next level.”
Patti Lynn, Managing Director, Corporate Accountability International: “It is clear that we cannot create the hard-hitting international policy that we so desperately need to combat climate change with the dirty-energy industry at the table. In one month, a global mobilization will descend upon New York City to demand concrete action by our leaders and an end to the corporate co-optation of meetings like the Ban Ki-moon Summit.”
Adam Hasz, Chair of SustainUS: “Young people are coming to the streets of New York in huge numbers to stand up and say we’ve had enough — we’re not going to sit back and wait for politicians to save our future. Instead, we’re on the frontlines fighting extractive industries and proposing just policies to confront climate change and its impacts on the most vulnerable. The People’s Climate March will show that a better future is not only possible, but underway.”
Patrick Carolan, Executive Director of the Franciscan Action Network said: “It is our moral obligation to care for God’s creation. Franciscans believe this and follow it as part of the Tradition of St. Francis, however, every faith tradition has a statement such as this within its doctrine. We need to remind our politicians of their faith and demand action based on it, rather than on the demands of other political groups.”
Jane Kleeb, Executive Director, Bold Nebraska: “Farmers and ranchers at one point thought Mother Nature would take care of things when it comes to climate change. The fight against Keystone XL made us all realize it is our voices and actions that will stop Big Oil from taking our land and polluting our water. Climate Change is no longer two words used by politicians, it is two words that symbolize the people taking a stand for our homes.”
Nicole Dallara Outreach Coordinator for the NJ Sierra Club: “This is the People’s march. People from around the country are going to be coming together to march as ONE calling on our world leaders to tackle the most important issue of our time – climate change. It is important that everyone and anyone attends this march, which is why our one month recruitment is so important. All voices and issues need to be present so they will be heard by those attending the UN Climate Summit, ”
Ken Levenson, President, NY Passive House: “We are excited to recruit participants for the People’s Climate March in our low-energy/high-performance building industry community. It’s producing a galvanizing action, and empowering our voices far beyond the scale of our day-to-day efforts.”
Helena Norberg-Hodge, Founder and Director, Local Futures: “It’s time we recognize that the driving force behind climate chaos is the globalizing economy, not our innate failings as human beings. The People’s Climate March represents an opportunity to look beyond individual consumer choices and come together to push for real policy change.”
Karen Feridun, Founder, Berks Gas Truth: “The myth that natural gas is a bridge fuel must be dispelled. The science is in and the news isn’t good. Methane, natural gas’ main ingredient is so much more powerful a greenhouse gas than CO2 that we can’t afford to pump more of it into the atmosphere in the handful of years we have left to mitigate the effects of climate change. A strong anti-fracking contingent will be making that message clear at the People’s Climate March.”
Drew Hudson, Executive Director of Environmental Action: “We have all the tools and technologies we need to stop climate change. What we need is real leadership from President Obama and his team. It’s time to take to the streets and demand the action we need – a ban on fracking, and end to subsidies to Exxon and their Big Oil friends, and a real investment in clean energy technologies like wind and solar.”