WORLDWIDE — Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in cities and towns around the world today to demand action on climate change on the eve of a Climate Summit at the United Nations. From the crowded streets of New Delhi to Melbourne to Johannesburg to Rio de Janeiro, people in more than 156 countries joined 2646 events and rallies.
“People around the world are tired of waiting for our politicians to act,” said Payal Parekh, Global Campaigns Director for 350.org, one of the organizations coordinating the global day of events. “From the islands of the Pacific to the streets of New York City, we’re demanding action, not words. We’re showing what real leadership looks like.”
The “People’s Climate” actions took place across continents, from rural villages to major metropolises. At rallies large and small, people from all walks of life were united in their demand for world leaders to make ambitious commitments to tackle the climate crisis.
In addition, at last count, 2,097,372people around the world signed onto a petition calling for bold action at the UN Climate Summit.
“With hundreds of thousands marching in more than 2500 protests worldwide, this is by a long way the largest climate mobilization in history. It’s a wake up call to politicians that climate change is not a green issue anymore, it’s an everybody issue,” said Ricken Patel, executive director of the global civic organization Avaaz. “The public has heard our scientists that everything we love is under threat, and we’re prepared to fight for the only solution — a world powered by 100% safe, clean, sustainable energy.”
Photos from events will feature on jumbotrons in New York City, where the major march of the weekend will take place with over 100,000 people marching in the streets of the city. Labor unions, environmentalists, social justice groups, migrant communities, students, people of faith, and more all took part in the march in New York, making it not only the largest, but most diverse demonstration on climate change in US history.
“The days when climate change can be ignored as a side issue are over,” said May Boeve, 350.org Executive Director. “Public opinion has reached a tipping point and the demand for action will only grow. This march is just the beginning. Today we marched, tomorrow we organize.”
The global mobilization drew the support of over 1,574 partner organizations and dozens of celebrities, politicians and notable public figures. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will join the march in New York City, along with diplomats, US Senators, and celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Rock, Emma Thompson and more.
“This is surely a moment that demands unprecedented collective action,” said Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. “We can no longer tinker about the edges. We can no longer continue feeding our addiction to fossil fuels as if there is no tomorrow. For there will be no tomorrow. We are on the cusp of a global transition to a new safe energy economy, a transition that unites people in common purpose, advances collective well-being and ensures the survival of our species.”
Archbishop Tutu has been a vocal supporter of fossil fuel divestment, which emerged as one of the central themes of the day in many places across Europe and North America. Over the last two-years, the divestment movement has spread to over 500 universities, churches, and other public institutions. On Monday, the Divest-Invest coalition will announce a major new set of commitments.
Divestment is only one of the many campaigns that will continue after this weekend’s mobilization. From local fossil fuel fights to the push for a new international climate treaty, the climate movement around the world is gaining in size and intensity.
“We’re not waiting for politicians to move,” said Seia Mikaele Maiava, Pacific Climate Warrior from Tokelau. “This is a matter of survival for us. We’re not drowning, we’re standing up and fighting for our homes.”
Organizers see the mobilization as just the beginning of a series of actions in the months to come that will continue to increase pressure for global action. From Pacific warriors planning a blockade of coal ports in Australia, to fracking activists organizing a global day of action in October, to a massive people’s march in Lima during the next UN climate summit this December, activists plan to take to the streets, and seas, many more times.