Climate protesters march in New York calling for an end to fossil fuels | ET REALITY


Tens of thousands of people, young and old, filled the streets of midtown Manhattan under a scorching sun on Sunday to demand that world leaders quickly move away from fossil fuels that dangerously heat the Earth.

Their ire was clearly directed at President Biden, who arrived in New York on Sunday night to attend several fundraising events this week and to address the United Nations General Assembly session that begins Tuesday.

“Biden, you should be afraid of us,” shouted Emma Buretta, 17, a New York City high school student and organizer of the Fridays for Future movement, at a rally before the march. “If you want our vote, if you don’t want the blood of our generations on your hands, end fossil fuels.”

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 it has also continued to approve permits for new oil and gas drilling, in most cases because the law requires it.

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.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., drew applause at the end of the march when she described climate action as “an electoral and popular force that cannot be ignored.”

While protesters suggested their support for Biden in 2024 would depend on more aggressive climate action, none of the Republican candidates running to replace him plan to reduce the country’s emissions and several want to encourage more drilling. The front-runner, former President Donald Trump, completely scoffs at the idea that the planet is warming.

A White House spokesperson cited last year’s landmark climate law as evidence of Biden’s commitment to fighting global warming. “President Biden has treated climate change as an emergency, the existential threat of our time, from day one,” the spokesperson said.

Sunday’s protest aimed at stopping fossil fuels suggested a more focused goal by climate advocates, who have become increasingly frustrated by the continued expansion of drilling and mining. The industry has argued that the problem is emissions, not fuel, and that it can use nascent technology to capture carbon dioxide from the air and bury it underground.

According to scientific models and projections from the International Energy Agency, nations must stop approving new oil, gas and coal projects if the world is to stay within relatively safe levels of atmospheric warming.

Megan Bloomgren, vice president of the American Petroleum Institute, which represents the oil and gas industry, said in an email: “We share the urgency of addressing climate change together without delay; However, doing so by eliminating America’s energy options is the wrong approach and would leave American families and businesses beholden to unstable foreign regions in search of more expensive and much less reliable energy.”

The turnout in New York surprised organizers and came after a weekend of climate protest demonstrations in Germany, England, Senegal, South Korea, India and elsewhere. They are the largest protests of this type since before the Covid-19 pandemic. And they come on the heels of the hottest summer on record, exacerbated by global warming, and amid record profits for oil and gas companies.

In New York, some protesters arrived in wheelchairs; others pushed strollers. They traveled to the city from all over the country and the world. There were puppets, songs and thousands of homemade signs and banners. They were healthcare workers and anti-nuclear activists, monks and imams, union leaders and actors, scientists and drummers. And students, so many students.

A group from Boston brought a banner that stretched the width of a city block, with stripes representing the steady warming of the Earth’s atmosphere since the beginning of the industrial age.

“I am here today because we need to stop the extraction of Mother Earth and natural resources for greed and for billionaires and corporations around the world,” said Brenna Two Bears, 28, an indigenous activist whose family in Arizona had felt the impact. of forest fires exacerbated by drought and heat.

Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and now an outspoken climate activist, criticized the estimated $7 trillion in subsidies that the International Monetary Fund says governments around the world spent last year on oil and gas drilling. “We are subsidizing what is destroying us,” she said.

While Sunday’s march was billed as a nonviolent demonstration, climate protests are becoming more contentious. Activists threw cakes at glass-covered paintings, disrupted a US Open tennis match and stuck themselves to oil company buildings.

Civil disobedience actions are planned for Monday in Lower Manhattan.

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.

Protest organizers used Sunday’s event to send a strong message to President Biden as he begins his re-election campaign: Do more if you want our votes.

Rafael Chavez, 37, came from Newark with a group called New Labor that represents immigrant workers, many of them from Mexico and Central America, who are especially vulnerable to climate impacts. “Our people are collapsing, you know, they work in construction, in agriculture and even in warehouses,” he said. “Everyone feels the heat.”

The president “is uniquely positioned to be a leader to end the global fossil fuel movement,” said Daphne Frias, 25, a climate activist. “It’s time for the United States, but particularly the Global North, to step up and say we are taking responsibility for the way we have harmed and polluted.”

Virginia Page Fortna, a political science professor at Columbia University, was kind to Biden. “She’s done so much, which is amazing,” she said. “But of course there is always more to do. It would be great if he declared a climate emergency.”

Amid the anger, there was also a festive atmosphere among some protesters.

Michelle Joni, 38, of Brooklyn, brought what she called a “dance center” to the march: a converted school bus decked out with Barbie heads, stickers, a couch and a dance floor on the roof. “It’s like we bring joy, we dance and we create connection,” she said. “And that is the fuel to end fossil fuels.”

Liset Cruz, Wesley Parnell and baker stretcher contributed with reports.

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