Climate activists with the Global Fight to End Fossil Fuels are hoping for millions of people to show up this Friday, Sept. 15, at more than 400 actions worldwide to demonstrate for an immediate phaseout of fossil fuels. Despite the ever-worsening climate impacts all around us, that large a turnout sounds a bit ambitious. In September four years ago, an estimated 4 million protesters participated in climate marches and other actions as part of the Global Week for Future. But since then, skepticism about the impacts of street protests, and the unfortunate, counterproductive spread of the view that our climate situation is hopeless, likely mean this year’s events will be fewer and smaller. Here is the map of planned actions (enlarge and click on a dot near your locale for details).
Even though the organizers note activities can be anything from speak-outs to occupations, few of the announced events have the flavor of protest or disruption. Most feel like pleas tinged with more sadness than fury. Of course, nobody is going to announce a graffiti painting event at ExxonMobil HQ or something more aggressive and legally risky. Even when engaging in illegal civil disobedience, however, climate activists don’t come armed with ARs and tactical vests, though plenty do wear their heart on their sleeve—love for Mother Earth.
That makes no difference to right-wing extremists. Channeling the neo-Nazis who brought their hatred to Charlottesville, Virginia, as well as some state legislatures, Fox News’ Jesse Watters said peaceful climate protesters should be “run over.” So a guy who spews lies that climatologists are “making all of this money by telling us something that’s not happening” also thinks murder is an appropriate response to free speech he disagrees with. Fascism at work. His late night pal Greg Gutfield thinks protesters should be doxxed and their lives made difficult. But at least he doesn’t (apparently) favor summary execution. You can, of course, never tell with these guys how much is just schtick, performances that have little to do with anything other than ratings and wallets, and their real views. The worry, as always, is that whatever these Foxagandists actually believe, there are violence-prone people who may take their incitement seriously.
In addition to the Sept. 15 events, activists with the group Climate Week NYC and thousands of others will march in New York City on Sunday, Sept, 17. The mission is to draw attention to the call for a fossil fuel phaseout in the days before the arrival of delegates and observers at the U.N. Climate Ambition Summit, which runs Sept. 20-24. All told, some 780 organizations have endorsed the march. In the United States, that includes groups such as the NAACP, Sunrise Movement, Sierra Club, and the Center for Biological Diversity.
This historic mobilisation renews and reinforces the globally coordinated efforts focused on ending the era of fossil fuels. The scale of this mobilisation and the urgency of the moment underscore the devastating impacts of recent record breaking heat, deadly floods, and increased extreme weather events.
The climate crisis is escalating and in response so is the global movement for climate justice. Across the globe, we are coming together to fight back against the fossil fuel industry and its enablers.
In open letter published Wednesday, some 400 scientists asked President Joe Biden to endorse the demands of this weekend’s march in New York. Those include, first and foremost, ending new fossil fuel projects and all oil and gas drilling on public land, and declaring a climate emergency. Such a declaration was considered in the summer of 2022, but the administration chose not to do so.
The letter states:
“… on your first day in office, you issued an executive order pledging that it is ‘the policy of my administration to listen to the science’ in tackling the climate crisis,” the letter’s signers lamented that “more than two years later, it’s clear that the crisis is spiraling out of control and the policies of your administration with regard to fossil fuels fail to align with what the science tells us must happen to avert calamity.”
“With the climate crisis raging all around us—in the form of fires, floods, hurricanes, drought, heatwaves, crop failures, and more—we call on you directly, clearly, and unequivocally to stop enacting policies contrary to science and do what is needed to address the crisis.”
In a statement, signatory Sandra Steingraber, a senior scientist at the Science and Environmental Health Network, said, “We scientists heard the president loud and clear when he pledged two years ago to ‘listen to the science’ on climate. Yet now we’re watching our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions spiral out of control while White House policy becomes increasingly unaligned with reality.”
Two years ago, when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its Sixth Assessment on climate, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres called it “code red for humanity.” Said he, “The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk. Global heating is affecting every region on Earth, with many of the changes becoming irreversible.”
We got another warning last Friday. The U.N. climate body issued a new report noting that global greenhouse gases are still rising, vast sums of investment money are still flowing toward new fossil fuel projects instead of additional renewables, financial support for emerging economies is grossly inadequate, national pledges to cut emissions aren’t enough, and the pledges aren’t being met anyway. Oh, and one more thing in case you hadn’t heard: Time to act is short.
Sara Schonhardt reports (paywall):
[The report] is part of a five-year global “stocktake” outlined in the 2015 Paris climate agreement and is considered the most comprehensive summary of where the world stands on efforts to address the climate crisis to date. It is also intended to help countries establish their next round of climate targets in 2025.
At climate talks in the United Arab Emirates scheduled for December, countries will need to agree to measures they’ll take in response to the report’s findings, with several negotiations already scheduled ahead of that conference.
“We already know the world is failing to meet its climate goals, but leaders now have a concrete blueprint underpinned by a mountain of evidence for how to get the job done,” Ani Dasgupta, president and CEO of the World Resources Institute, said in a statement. “The future of our planet depends on whether national leaders use this stark assessment as a catalyst for bold systems transformation.” …
“The report is clear that all is not lost — but we must get real. We must stop putting profits before people,” said Pa’olelei Luteru, Samoan chair of the Alliance of Small Island States.
We must all get real.
For those not given to marches or, say, getting arrested for climate-related civil disobedience, there’s still plenty to do, both personally and politically. The list of possibilities is long and includes something for everyone.
Voting is obviously a key element to getting more action from government officials. We don’t get that automatically just by casting ballots, however. Remember that it wasn’t so long ago that many prominent Democrats were shy about even mentioning climate change, and many who did merely gave the issue lip service. Even today both in Congress and elsewhere, some Democrats remain firmly, if often quietly, in thrall to the fossil fuel powers. You would think that the growing impacts of “code red” wouldn’t require us to nudge the foot-draggers into action, but we obviously must spur them to “get real.”
Here’s one effort almost anyone can engage in that should be deployed for the 2024 election season that has just begun: Show up at primary election campaign events and ask every Democratic candidate—incumbent or challenger—what new legislation or other action they would initiate or upgrade to address climate change. Don’t let mushy, I-accept-that-climate-change-is-real answers pass without follow-ups. Push candidates to be specific. This doesn’t just apply to Congress. Candidates for state legislatures—which author David Pepper labels “Laboratories of Autocracy”—governorships, attorneys general posts, city councils, and even elected water boards all need to be proactive on climate. Any campaigning Democrat who doesn’t already have a ready answer to this question sure as hell ought to develop one.
Tick, tick, tick.
Want to know what’s going on regarding climate, energy, and environment in Congress in the coming week? Then the Monday edition of Hill Heat is for you. It’s put together by Brad Johnson, a longtime climate activist, who provides a list each Monday of such hearings together with his commentary.