Tens of thousands of protesters gathered on Sunday to demand urgent action on climate change. The March to End Fossil Fuels marked the beginning of New York’s Climate Week, where leaders aim to address the pressing issue of climate change caused primarily by coal, oil, and natural gas. However, many protesters feel that the proposed actions are insufficient and directed their frustrations towards United States President Joe Biden, urging him to cease approving new oil and gas projects, phase out existing ones, and declare a climate emergency.
The protesters, led by youth protest group Fridays for Future, highlighted their power as citizens and emphasized that future elections and the lives of future generations depend on ending the use of fossil fuels. The rally featured several influential figures, including politicians like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and actors like Susan Sarandon and Ethan Hawke.
The demonstration focused on the urgent need to address the fossil fuel industry and its impact on the environment. According to an American University sociologist who surveyed participants, 86% of those interviewed had recently experienced extreme heat, while 21% had encountered floods and 18% faced severe drought. The march also drew attention to the fact that the Earth has just experienced its hottest summer on record.
Protesters expressed their frustration with President Biden, who campaigned on climate change action, but has overseen increased drilling for oil and fossil fuels. Environmental activists calculate that nearly one-third of the world’s planned drilling for oil and gas from now until 2050 is attributed to U.S. interests. However, the United States is not alone in its contribution to carbon dioxide emissions. While the U.S. has historically emitted the most carbon pollution, China now surpasses it in annual emissions.
Protest leaders emphasized the urgency of the situation and the need for a fossil fuel phase-out to ensure the survival of the planet. Speakers at the event shared their fears and sense of urgency about the future, with one actress premiering an anthem called “Panic” that conveyed the attendees’ desire for immediate action.
The oil and gas industry, on the other hand, argued that their products are crucial for the economy and that eliminating them would lead to reliance on unstable foreign regions for energy. However, activists dismissed these claims, stating that the fossil fuel industry is responsible for the current crisis and emphasizing the need for new investments in clean, renewable energy sources.
The protest highlighted the determination and united front of environmental activists, demanding a transition away from fossil fuels and the prioritization of a sustainable future.
- The Associated Press