Progressive lawmakers and climate activists are reported to have held rallies at the Capitol to demand an end to fossil fuel usage, previewing a planned march in New York on Sunday ahead of the United Nations’ climate ambition summit on 20 September.
“Clearly, saving the planet is the most important issue facing humanity,” the Democratic senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, said. “But here’s the ugly and brutal truth: right now, humanity is failing. The planet is crying out for help.”
According to reports, the rally was one of some 200 global climate actions taking place this week in countries including Bolivia, Pakistan, Ethiopia and Austria. In New York, dozens of activists protested outside of the headquarters for asset manager BlackRock and Citibank on Wednesday and Thursday respectively, to call attention to both firms’ investments in fossil fuels.
It is expected that the mobilizations will culminate with the March to End Fossil Fuels in New York City on Sunday, 17 September, which has been endorsed by 400 scientists and 500 organizations, including the NAACP, the Sierra Club and the Sunrise Movement.
Organizers are said to have predicted the event, which aims to convene tens of thousands of activists from across the country and around the world, will be the largest climate march in the US in five years.
“The March to End Fossil Fuels will be a historic, intergenerational and cross-societal march, making it clear that President Biden needs to restore his [campaign] promise and end the era of fossil fuels now,” Keanu Arpels-Josiah, an 18-year-old climate activist, said on Thursday at the Capitol. “We voted for a climate president, not for fossil fuel expansion.”
Available reports suggest that the New York City protest will focus on pushing the Biden administration to take bold steps to phase out fossil fuels, including by declaring a climate emergency, halting the approval of new oil and gas projects, and phasing out fossil fuel drilling on public lands.
US president, Joe Biden is said to have faced criticism from climate activists for continuing to approve oil and gas schemes such as the Willow Project in Alaska, even after he promised as a candidate to phase out fossil fuels.
His allies are quick to note that he also signed the Inflation Reduction Act, touted as the most significant climate legislation in US history, but the president will almost certainly face pointed questions about his record on fossil fuels during the summit next week.
Recall that the UN secretary general, António Guterres, has severally called on countries to take more aggressive action against climate change, has described the upcoming summit as a “no nonsense” conference.
“The price of entry is non-negotiable – serious new climate action that will move the needle forward,” he said in December.
Story was adapted from the Guardian.