The need for unified mass demonstrations in the streets calling for urgent action on the climate emergency, with a central demand that the race and class issues involved be a top priority, is off-the-charts needed now. Fortunately, a worldwide mobilization doing just this is coming together for actions September 15-17 in New York City and around the world.
Why those dates? Because on September 20 there will be a “Climate Ambition Summit” at the United Nations convened by the UN’s Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres. The purpose of this summit, in his words, is to generate “credible, serious and new climate action and nature-based solutions that will move the needle forward and respond to the urgency of the climate crisis. There will be no room for back-sliders, greenwashers, blame-shifters or repackaging of announcements of previous years.”
These days of action will begin with youth-organized, Fridays for Future actions internationally. Fridays for Future began in August 2018 after 15-year-old Greta Thunberg and other young activists sat in front of the Swedish parliament every school day for three weeks, to protest against the lack of action on the climate crisis. Since that time, according to their website, 14 million people in 7,500 cities all over the world have demonstrated at periodic, Friday climate strikes.
On September 17 in New York City where the Climate Ambition Summit will be happening, there will be a massive March to End Fossil Fuels. As of this writing about 80 organizations have signed on with many more expected. The primary target of that march is the Biden Administration, which has been a very big disappointment to many people when it comes to the issue of “climate ambition.”
Here is how it is described on the March website:
“President Biden can take breakthrough steps to end the fossil fuel era and build a just renewable energy future. He has the power to stop approving fossil fuel projects, phase out oil and gas drilling on public lands and waters, and declare a climate emergency to accelerate a just transition to clean energy run by and for the people. But so far, he’s broken his campaign promises to lead us off fossil fuels and champion environmental justice. Instead, he’s expanded fossil fuel drilling and production. Biden’s approvals for new oil and gas projects are disastrous for the planet – and disproportionately harm Black, Indigenous, low-income communities and communities of color.”
Actions will be happening around the world on September 17. In the words of the website advancing these distributed actions, it is a “Global Fight to End Fossil Fuels: Fast, Fair and Forever.”
Based on my many years of experience with mass mobilizations on issues and my connections to many of the groups involved, I believe that these days of action in mid-September could be massive and historic. They can be what the USA and the world desperately need in the face of the intransigence of the fossil fuel industry and its continued dominance of governments everywhere, particularly in the USA.
My expectation is that there will be at least tens of thousands of people at the main NYC demonstration on September 17. There should be more.
What might hold some people back from attending who get it on the urgency of the climate crisis? Most likely, it’s fear that this action, which targets Biden and his team, will somehow weaken him politically, affect his chances of winning reelection.
I don’t see it that way, not at all. Indeed, this mobilization could do just the opposite, depending upon the Biden Administration response.
Climate is a huge political issue. Communities of color, young people and issue-oriented progressives, all of whom care a lot about the climate issue, will be decisive voting blocs come November, 2024. To defeat the MAGA Republicans it’s not enough that Biden do better than the Republican in all those demographics. A big voter turnout is essential.
Despite the disappointment that many millions of people who voted for Biden feel about his first two and a half years, on climate and other issues, he can change that somewhat if he responds to the Climate Ambition Summit by declaring a climate emergency and then acting accordingly.
It is a climate emergency!! Predictions are that Canada’s forests are going to be burning throughout the summer. There’s a massive and deadly heat dome right now in south central USA that’s moving east. These and other extreme weather events are only going to get worse. Even the Republicans in Congress are moving to try to forestall Biden declaring an emergency. They obviously see that this is a genuine issue that tens of millions of people are deeply concerned about.
In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”
Ted Glick has been a progressive activist, organizer and writer since 1968. He is the author of the recently published books, Burglar for Peace and 21st Century Revolution. More info can be found at https://tedglick.com.
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