Half a million people marched in cities around the world to combat climate change. The People’s Climate March took place on September 21, 2014. Activists across the globe turned out in a show of solidarity to urge their governments to take anthropomorphic global warming and climate change seriously. 2,808 events were held in 166 countries. The global march coincided with the United Nation’s climate summit in New York City this week. The summit will promote an international treaty to cut greenhouse gases by 2020.
The main march in New York drew 400,000 people – four times the estimates of march organizers. So many people attended that organizers had to ask them to disperse early Sunday evening because the crowds exceeded the march route’s capacity. The route stretched across Manhattan from Central Park West to 34th street. The New York march was led by people from communities already affected by global climate change.
From people from South Pacific islands who are seeing loss of their land and homes to victims of Superstorm Sandy who experienced super storm surge, climate change disproportionately affects the poor and powerless people of the world. Climate Justice Alliance, staid that poor people and minority communities were the ones who are most affected. She also describes how these communities are on the frontlines of green energy and sustainability solutions by addressing problems at a local level.
The march also had more well-known attendees such as Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio and Senator Bernie Sanders. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change Christiana Figueres also attended. The U.N. Summit will begin Tuesday with more than 120 heads of state, including President Obama, and 40 ministers meeting to discuss greenhouse gas reduction. This weekend’s protesters hope they can affect policy by their show of numbers. The march was truly a grass-roots organized effort to make their collective voices heard.
The People’s Climate March took place in cities around the world. London streets were filled with activists carrying signs and placards demanding action on climate change. 40,000 people surged through the streets past the Thames River and the houses of Parliament. March organizers said the turnout exceeded expectations. In Paris 25,000 people rode bikes and held parades on the banks and bridges of the Seine.
Tens of thousands marched across Australia, with 30,000 in Melbourne alone. Australia was once poised to be a leader in carbon emissions reduction but recently the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has tried to back off regulation of fossil fuels including eliminating Australia’s high carbon tax. Some Australians have begun to see Abbott as backing the fossil fuel industry instead of worrying about Australia’s future. Australia is home to the largest coral reef in the world and depends on the tourist dollars brought in by the Great Barrier Reef. The reef has lost 50 percent of its coral cover over the last 30 years. Some of the climate change protests occurred outside pre-meetings for the G20 summit. Geoff Holland, a Cairns community activist, said, “None of the G20 countries are taking responsibility. They are still representing the interests of extremely powerful fossil fuel companies.”
More than 2,500 people hit the streets of New Delhi in India for that country’s largest climate change protest ever. The governments of India and China are sending lower-level representatives to the U.N. Summit as a ploy to reduce the power of the summit. Both India and China have large populations and little pollution regulation. Although their carbon emissions per capita are not as high as more developed nations their overall greenhouse gas pollution is growing exponentially.
The island nations of Tonga, Tuvalu, Tokelau and Papa New Guinea held marches highlighting their plight as the seas rise and submerge their homelands. The First Peoples of Canada and the United States held hands across the border to illustrate that climate change knows no boundary.
Many scientists, climatologists and environmentalists see anthropomorphic global warming as the largest threat the world has faced. The irony is that humans are damaging their own vital resources – they are figuratively burning down the house. It is the poorest peoples that are most affected while the wealthy can temporarily insulate themselves from the consequences of burning masses of fossil fuels for energy. The United Nations may take the first steps to creating an international policy to address the crisis. Half a million people marched in cities around the world to combat climate change and spur the U.N to strong action, and climate change activists hope their efforts to raise awareness will make a difference.
By: Rebecca Savastio