Leading Activists Demand Action at People’s Climate March

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Story Transcript

PROTESTER: If I say climate, you say justice! Climate!

CROWD: Justice!

PROTESTER: Climate!

CROWD: Justice!

PROTESTER: Climate!

CROWD: Justice!

~~~

PROTESTER: What do we want?

CROWD: Climate justice!

PROTESTER: When do we want it?

CROWD: Now!

PROTESTER: What do we want?

CROWD: Climate justice!

PROTESTER: When do we want it?

CROWD: Now!

~~~

OSCAR LEÓN, TRNN PRODUCER: This weekend in New York, thousands of people came to march against climate change, trying to mount pressure on the world leaders will be meeting in the United Nations.

Two hundred and ten thousand people, according to official estimates, and over 400,000 people according to others, took part in the People’s Climate March on September 21, 2014–on the streets of New York, the largest ever demonstration for climate justice in history took place.

The Real News spoke to national and international political leaders, activists, and civil society figures about why they were taking part and what they hope comes out of the march.

WAEL HMAIDAN, CLIMATE ACTION NETWORK INTERNATIONAL: We’re on the way to solving climate change. I think we are going to achieve enough political will. The question: are we going to do it in time to actually avoid catastrophic climate impacts?

DR. VAISHALI PATIL, ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST AND SECRETARY OF ANKUR TRUST: I am here in this march because we are staying in the /wɛstərnkɑːrt/ of India, and in this /mɛstərngɑːrt/ there are a number of minings sanctioned, there are many, many cobalt projects sanctioned, and the largest nuclear power station of the world has been proposed in the Jaitapur, Maharashtra. We are fighting against this dirty energy. We are demanding a renewable energy. We are demanding that our government should opt for the green energy. And nuclear energy is not green and clean. Otherwise, the Chernobyl and Fukushima accident [today would (?)] not happen. When all the European countries are phasing out the nuclear power station, why we should be [imposed (?)] by the European countries and the multinational on the nuclear power station? So even if among the 125 countries my government is not [representing (?)] in UN, we the people of India are very much there in this march.

MARY ROBINSON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF IRELAND, UN SPECIAL ENVOY FOR CLIMATE CHANGE: I think we have learned a lot since Copenhagen. First of all, this summit is taking place 15 months before the decision in Paris. Secondly, we know that there’s a lot happening all over the world on the climate issue. And there’s a New Climate Economy report that says that for every government now, it makes business sense for the government to reduce emissions, be more efficient, and move towards a carbon-neutral world. And that’s more jobs, better health, more equality, better for people. And that’s a big message.

So, at the same time, we need People’s Marches. We need everybody to demand of their leaders the kind of decision-making that is business as usual with a bit of greener touch. That’s not enough. We need to change course. We are on course for a four degree world, which would be catastrophic. We need to be on course to below two degrees. And that needs all the pressure that is here all over the world today, and we need to keep it up.

[PROTEST FOOTAGE]

ANNIE LEONARD, GREENPEACE USA: Well, today’s march is not about a vague statement. It’s about a very clear demand, which is that we want climate solutions. And the reason that we don’t have one particular slogan we’re all agreeing to is that everyone’s coming to this march from very diverse places. But to me that represents a source of strength and diversity and inclusion that this March has that we haven’t seen before in the climate movement. So I’m excited that this is a real turning point and we’re going to start seeing some action following soon.

[PROTEST FOOTAGE]

MARK RUFFALO, FILMMAKER: Implementing renewable energy is the greatest thing that people can do to give themselves power. Whoever controls your energy controls your destiny. And today we have renewable energy systems that are adoptable by any one person that over time will pay for themselves and will make their energy cheaper. It’s free. And that’s ready to go today. And so either our leaders are going to get it and then adopt it or people are going to adopted on their own.

DAME JANE MORRIS GOODALL, PRIMATOLOGIST, ETHOLOGIST, ANTHROPOLOGIST: It’s going to take more people to join the coalitions that are already being made by some of the big corporations, like Unilever, particularly pledging not to use oil palm from unsustainable use, because it’s the oil palm industry that’s destroying forests all over Asia. And it’s up to us the people to show our will. And that’s why a march like this is important.

WINNIE BYANYIMA, EXEC. DIR., OXFAM INTERNATIONAL: Climate change isn’t just an environmental issue. It’s a justice issue. We’re seeing the impact hitting the poorest people hardest, trapping people in poverty. It’s a food issue. It’s hitting the food system and denying people of food. It’s an issue of public health. It’s an issue of the survival of people.

SHELDON WHITEHOUSE, U.S. SENATOR (D-RI): American democracy is also at issue here. We have power and money that are causing our democracy to do things that we should not be doing. But ultimately the choice in a democracy is the people’s. And the American people, I think, are standing up now in a way that even the money folks are going to have to back down from, and that’s why I’m here.

BERNIE SANDERS, U.S. SENATOR (I-VT): We need a grassroots movement of tens of millions of Americans who are prepared to stand up to the Koch brothers and the other billionaires who today have enormous power over our economy and our political life. It’s not easy, but that’s what we have to do. And the fact that we have 200,000 people out here today talking about climate change is exactly what we should be doing.

ESTELA VASQUEZ, EXEC. VP, 1199SEIU: There are trade unionists that have come from India, South Korea, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, and the U.K. Also South Africa–there are trade unionists from South Africa. But I think that there’s also groups, community organizations from every country around the world, nongovernmental agencies that are also going to be here because of the importance of this issue. This is a planet-wide crisis. It is going to require planet-wide movement [to afford (?)] solutions.

[PROTEST FOOTAGE]

LEÓN: Reporting for The Real News from New York, this is Oscar León.

End

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.