Tens of 1000’s of local weather activists took to the streets of New York Metropolis on Sunday in a “march to end fossil fuels”, with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez telling the group that the motion should change into “too big and too radical to ignore”.
To cheers from the group, the progressive Democrat criticized the US persevering with to approve fossil gasoline tasks, one thing which the Biden administration did earlier this yr with the controversial Willow challenge in Alaska.
“We are all here for one reason: to end fossil fuels around the planet,” Ocasio-Cortez instructed a rally on the end of the march, which ended near the UN headquarters the place world leaders will collect this week. “And the way we create urgency is to have people around the world in the streets.”
She mentioned: “The United States continues to be approving a record number of fossil fuel leases and we must send a message, right here today,” including that regardless of document earnings the help for the fossil gasoline business was “starting to buckle and crack.”
Local weather motion requires a democratic restructuring of the financial system, she mentioned. “What we’re not gonna do is go from oil barons to solar barons.”
Organizers estimated that between 50,000 and 75,000 folks attended the march in Manhattan and had anticipated it might be the largest local weather march within the US previously 5 years. The NYPD mentioned it didn’t touch upon crowd numbers.
“This is an incredible moment,” mentioned Jean Su of the Heart for Organic Variety, who helped set up the mobilization. “Tens of thousands of people are marching in the streets of New York because they want climate action, and they understand Biden’s expansion of fossil fuels is squandering our last chance to avoid climate catastrophe.”
She mentioned the motion was the biggest local weather protest within the US for the reason that begin of the pandemic.
“This also shows the tremendous grit and fight of the people, especially youth and communities living at the frontlines of fossil fuel violence, to fight back and demand change for the future they have every right to lead,” she mentioned.
The march got here as world leaders collect for this week’s UN common meeting, and a UN local weather ambitions summit on Wednesday, which the UN secretary common, António Guterres, has described as a “no nonsense” convention meant to spotlight new local weather commitments.
On Friday, nationwide safety adviser Jake Sullivan mentioned President Biden was not presently scheduled to participate in Wednesday’s UN local weather summit. Biden has been praised by local weather activists for final yr passing a historic $369bn local weather legislation however criticized for permitting oil drilling tasks and the enlargement of fuel amenities within the Gulf of Mexico.
A choice for Biden to avoid the UN ambitions summit is “unacceptable”, mentioned Su of the Heart for Organic Variety. “The time is now for Biden to lead on the world stage, and show he means it when he calls climate change the existential threat to humanity.”
In the course of the march, the Rev Lennox Yearwood, head of the Hip Hop Caucus, likened right this moment’s local weather motion to the US battle for racial justice. “We’re at our lunch counter moment for the 21st century,” he mentioned. A local of Louisiana, he mentioned he was excited to see demonstrators help environmental justice activists’ battle to finish petrochemical buildout within the south-west US. “We need to end fossil fuels in all forms,” he mentioned.
Youth local weather activist Vanessa Nakate, from Uganda, mentioned: “When we say that we want climate justice, we’re not just talking about transitioning to solar panels. We are talking about leaving no one behind when you’re talking about addressing the injustices that come with the climate crisis.
Actor and climate activist Susan Sarandon opened her speech by congratulating the students of New York University on the news of their university divesting from fossil fuels after years of pressure, as the Guardian first reported last week. Addressing the crowd, she said, “You guys give me hope,” including: “What we have to do is take responsibility and press those that are at the top to finally step up.”
Veteran environmental activist Invoice McKibben travelled to New York Metropolis to attend the march.
“I think it’s a real restart moment after the pandemic for the big in-the-streets climate movement,” he mentioned. “It’s good to see people get back out there.”
The group, he mentioned, mirrored the variety of New York Metropolis. “I’m glad to see there’s a lot of old people like me here,” mentioned McKibben, who based Third Act, an activist group geared toward elders. “We’ll be marching in the back because we’re slow!”
Greater than 650 international local weather actions passed off earlier this week; earlier on Sunday activists sprayed orange paint on to the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany.
Youth-led organizations, together with Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future, performed main roles in organizing the mobilizations.
Further local weather protests can be held all through the next week, together with at New York Metropolis’s Zuccotti Park on Monday morning.