Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in New York City on Sunday to kick off New York's Climate Week, a week of climate-related protests aimed at ending the use of fossil fuels. The March to End Fossil Fuels, which included calls for President Biden to take action, attracted an estimated 75,000 people and featured notable figures such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and actors Ethan Hawke, Edward Norton, and Kevin Bacon.
Protesters passionately voiced their concerns about the future and the impact of fossil fuels on their lives. They demanded that President Biden stop approving new oil and gas projects, phase out current ones, and declare a climate emergency with larger executive powers. The rally specifically targeted President Biden, as many of the protesters had supported him in the 2020 election but felt let down by his increased drilling for oil and fossil fuels.
Many signs displayed during the march emphasized the urgent need to address climate change and end fossil fuel use. Messages such as "Biden, End Fossil Fuels," "Fossil fuels are killing us," and "Biden Declare A Climate Emergency" were seen throughout the crowd. The protesters called on Biden to prioritize climate change and ending fossil fuels in his re-election strategy, reminding him that their votes hold the power to determine the outcome of the 2024 election.
The issue of fossil fuel consumption was highlighted during the protest, with environmental activists calculating that nearly one-third of the world's planned drilling for oil and gas by 2050 is driven by U.S. interests. The United States, historically, has contributed more heat-trapping carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than any other country. However, China is currently the largest emitter of carbon pollution on an annual basis.
This demonstration stood out from previous climate marches as it placed a stronger emphasis on the fossil fuel industry. According to American University sociologist Dana Fisher, 15% of Sunday's demonstrators were first-time protesters, reflecting a growing concern among the general public. The march was also predominantly attended by women.
While the protesters were united in their call for an end to fossil fuel use, the oil and gas industry defended its role in the country's infrastructure. American Petroleum Institute Senior Vice President Megan Bloomgren expressed the industry's view that eliminating fossil fuels would leave American families and businesses reliant on unstable foreign regions for more costly and unreliable energy.
In addition to the march, New York's Climate Week typically brings together leaders from different sectors to support environmental causes. This year, a special United Nations summit organized by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will be a highlight of the week's events. However, many leaders of countries responsible for significant carbon pollution will not be in attendance, as the summit is exclusively focused on countries committed to taking concrete action against climate change.
The urgency and fear surrounding climate change were palpable among the marchers and speakers. Actress Eve Ensler, known as V, premiered a climate change anthem titled "Panic," which will be featured in her upcoming climate-oriented musical. The song's chorus, "We want you to panic. We want you to act. You stole our future, and we want it back," encapsulated the sense of desperation felt by many. Demonstrators held signs like "Even Santa Knows Coal is Bad" and "I want a fossil-free future," highlighting the need for immediate action.
The protest served as a reminder that the world is at a critical juncture in the fight against climate change. It called for an end to fossil fuels and urged leaders to take bold steps towards building a sustainable future. The activists' message was clear: the time for action is now, and the consequences of inaction are too great to ignore.
themes: New York City China New York (state)