Tens of thousands of protesters kicked off “Climate Week” and filled the streets of New York, on Sunday ahead of the UN General Assembly this week, calling for President Joe Biden and world leaders to end fossil fuel use.
With parades, concerts, and banging drums, crowds in Midtown, Manhattan waved and yelled that the future and their lives depend on ending fossil fuels. They brandished signs that read “End Fossil Fuel Use” and “Fossil Fuels Kill” and “Declare a Climate Emergency.”
One man was dressed as a melting snowman warning of rising sea levels. The message was for world leaders to save the planet from the use of oil and gas believed to be driving a warming globe.
Sunday’s protests were part of a week-long international effort by Climate Group, a non-profit whose purpose is to drive climate change action and stop global warming, with more than 500 protests planned around the world.
Many protesters aimed their wrath directly at US President Joe Biden, urging him to stop approving new oil and gas projects, phase out current ones and declare a climate emergency with larger executive powers.
“We hold the power of the people, the power you need to win this election,” 17-year-old Emma Buretta of Brooklyn and the youth protest group Fridays for Future said. “If you want to win in 2024, if you do not want the blood of my generation to be on your hands, end fossil fuels.”
The March to End Fossil Fuels featured such politicians as Republican Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and actors Susan Sarandon, Ethan Hawke, Edward Norton, Kyra Sedgewick and Kevin Bacon.
Organisers estimated 75,000 people took part in Sunday’s march.
Nearly one-third of the world’s planned drilling for oil and gas between now and 2050 is by US interests, environmental activists calculate. Over the past 100 years, the United States has put more heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than any other country, though China now emits more carbon pollution on an annual basis.
“You need to phase out fossil fuels to survive our planet,” said Jean Su, a march organiser and energy justice director for the Centre for Biological Diversity.
Marchers and speakers spoke of increasing urgency and fear of the future. The actress known as V, formerly Eve Ensler, was scheduled to premiere the anthem Panic from her new climate change oriented musical scheduled for next year.
But oil and gas industry officials said they and their products are vital to the economy.
“We share the urgency of confronting climate change together without delay; yet doing so by eliminating America’s energy options is the wrong approach and would leave American families and businesses beholden to unstable foreign regions for higher cost and far less reliable energy,” said American Petroleum Institute Senior Vice-President Megan Bloomgren.
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