Thousands of protesters hit the streets of New York City today to demand a global end to oil, coal, and gas. The march is part of a larger movement to pressure the United States and other world leaders to participate in the United Nations Climate Ambition Summit on Wednesday.
“There’s a major need for us to transition off of fossil fuels,” said Princess Daazhraii Johnson, a member of the Neets’aii Gwich’in tribe in Alaska. “We must declare a climate emergency and keep it in the ground.”
The march was endorsed by hundreds of scientists and organizations from Greenpeace USA to Ben & Jerry’s, with prominent Hollywood environmental advocates like Jane Fonda and Mark Ruffalo joining the cause. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and other Democratic lawmakers like Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) also offered their support for the march and called on President Joe Biden to quit approving new fossil fuel projects and declare a climate emergency.
Biden has pledged to get the United States on track to meet global climate goals, but protesters argue that he has fallen behind. To avoid the worst effects of climate change, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has said that every country must reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
The march continued into Monday morning with hundreds of people gathering in Manhattan’s financial district for mass civil disobedience meant to garner Biden and Wall Street’s attention. Demonstrators blocked entrances to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, leading to dozens of arrests. The march on Monday was dominated by a rallying cry of keeping fossil fuels “in the ground”, a call echoed by Johnson, who has not been able to fish at her tribe’s traditional camp on the Yukon River for years because of the declining salmon population due to global warming.
The protesters hope their demonstrations will have concrete results with Biden and other world leaders attending the U.N. Climate Ambition Summit on Wednesday. The summit is an opportunity to secure a global rapprochement to the climate crisis, and protesters believe it’s time for governments to act to prevent any further damage.
“Look at what just happened in Libya. Look at Lahaina. Look at all of the suffering that’s going on around the world,” Johnson said. “Everybody should be willing to do their part. We should have our eyes wide open.”