Tens of thousands of people, including students, retirees, scientists, politicians and celebrities, began filling the streets of midtown Manhattan on Sunday to demand that world leaders quickly move away from fossil fuels that are dangerously warming the planet.
Sunday’s demonstrations were part of a weekend of large peaceful protests in Germany, England, Senegal, South Korea, India and elsewhere, mostly led by young people.
“Instead of taking meaningful climate action, the government is supporting the fossil fuel industry to prioritize corporate interests and power groups,” said Borim Kim, who helped organize the event in Samcheok, South Korea, where Protesters marched along a road next to coal mines. trucks and stood in front of the city’s newest coal-fired power plant.
“Let’s end fossil fuels,” they chanted in Korean, according to Ms. Kim. “We can still do it.”
The climate protests, the largest since before the Covid-19 pandemic, come on the heels of the hottest summer on record, exacerbated by global warming, and alongside record profits for oil and gas companies.
And they point to the point of tension hanging over United Nations meetings in New York this week and climate talks planned for November in the United Arab Emirates. Activists are demanding that coal, oil and gas remain in the ground, while industry leaders say they can continue drilling while cleaning up the pollution produced by fossil fuels.
“To solve the climate crisis, we have to stop relying on fossil fuels,” said Emma Buretta, 17, a New York City high school student and organizer of the Fridays for Future movement. “A lot of previous climate marches haven’t focused on that.”
The protests signal a shift in message and tone from climate advocates, who have become increasingly frustrated by the continued expansion of fossil fuel projects along with promises by oil and gas companies to use emerging technologies. and often expensive to capture carbon dioxide from the air and bury it. Underground.
According to scientific models and projections from the International Energy Agency, nations must halt new oil, gas and coal projects if the world is to stay within relatively safe levels of atmospheric warming.
“We know there can be no new drilling if we want a habitable world, but politicians in these countries are still caving in to the demands of this lucrative industry that will push us beyond critical climate limits if they are allowed to,” said Lauren MacDonald, a British activist. campaigning to stop approval of a new oil and gas field, called Rosebank, in the North Atlantic.
Activists are especially angry because this year’s UN climate negotiations will be held in the United Arab Emirates, a major oil-producing state, and will be overseen by Sultan al-Jaber, head of the Emirati state oil giant, ADNOC.
But he is not the only target of activists’ ire. They are also interested in sending a direct message to President Biden as he begins his campaign for re-election: Do more if you want our votes..
The Biden administration has guided the passage of America’s most ambitious climate law and is working to transition the country to wind, solar and other renewable energy.
But the United States has also continued to approve permits for new oil and gas drilling. This has angered many of Biden’s traditional supporters, as well as politicians on the left flank of the Democratic Party, who want him to declare a climate emergency and block any new fossil fuel production. Some lawmakers from the party’s progressive wing are scheduled to speak Sunday afternoon at a rally at the end of the march.
“Just this year, President Biden already approved the Mountain Valley pipeline, the Willow project and many other megaprojects,” Jean Su of the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group, said at a news conference before the start of the conference. Sunday. March. “Scientists have said that the only way we can really stop the tragedies we are feeling right now is to stop the spread and phase them out. “That is why we are here today to say loud and clear to our leaders that we need to phase out fossil fuels.”
At the same time, climate protests are becoming more confrontational, with civil disobedience actions inviting arrest. Activists have thrown cakes at glass-covered paintings, disrupted a US Open tennis match and they stuck to the oil company buildings.
Civil disobedience actions are planned for Monday in Lower Manhattan.