As many as 400,000 people turned out in New York City on Sunday for the People’s Climate March, the largest environmental protest in history. With a turnout far exceeding expectations, the streets of midtown Manhattan were filled with environmentalists, politicians, musicians, students, farmers, celebrities, nurses and labor activists — all united in their demand for urgent action on climate change. Organizers arranged the People’s Climate March into different contingents reflecting the movement’s diversity, with indigenous groups in the lead. Democracy Now! producers Aaron Maté and Elizabeth Press were in the streets to hear from some of the demonstrators taking part in the historic protest.
As up to 400,000 filled the streets, Democracy Now! did an exclusive three-hour global broadcast from the heart of the People’s Climate March in New York City. We air highlights of the special, beginning with the Grammy Award–winning Béninoise musician and activist Angélique Kidjo.
Speaking at the People’s Climate March in New York City, independent Senator Bernie Sanders discusses a potential 2016 presidential run and how getting money out of politics is critical to addressing the climate crisis. "[President Obama] can and should do more," Sanders says. "But the major impediment right now is not Obama, it is the Republican Party. We have to call them out on this. We don’t do it enough. These are people who do not even acknowledge the scientific reality because they are beholden to Big Energy money and the Koch brothers."
Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org and a lead organizer behind Sunday’s People’s Climate March and global day of action, joins us to reflect on the historic protest. "There hasn’t been a political gathering about anything this large in this country for many years," McKibben says. "And I think what it demonstrates is that climate change is at the absolute tip now of people’s consciousness."
Environmental activist and attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was one of up to 400,000 people joining the People’s Climate March Sunday in New York City. "American politics is driven by two forces: One is intensity, and the other is money," Kennedy says. "The Koch brothers have all the money. They’re putting $300 million this year into their efforts to stop the climate bill. And the only thing we have in our power is people power, and that’s why need to put this demonstration on the street." We also hear from Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of the group UPROSEand an organizer of Sunday’s march.
Earlier this month, two climate activists were set to go on trial in Massachusetts for blocking the shipment of 40,000 tons of coal to the Brayton Point power plant, a 51-year-old facility that is one of the region’s largest contributors to greenhouse gases. But in a surprise move, local prosecutor Sam Sutter dropped the criminal charges and reduced three other charges to civil offenses, calling climate change one of the gravest crises our planet has ever faced. On Sunday, the activists, Jay O’Hara and Ken Ward, marched with Sutter at the People’s Climate March in New York City.
The world-renowned musician and activist Sting stops by our three-hour special from the People’s Climate March to talk about why he is marching with indigenous activists on the front lines of the environmental movement. "The indigenous peoples’ message has been consistent from the beginning: We are in danger," Sting says. "These people are not complacent, I am not complacent. We have to do something."
Among the hundreds of thousands of people who attended the People’s Climate March in New York City was Mary Robinson, former Irish president and U.N. high commissioner for human rights, who now heads the Mary Robinson Foundation–Climate Justice. She was interviewed in the streets during the Democracy Now! broadcast from the march alongside Tony deBrum, foreign minister of the Marshall Islands, who described the threat climate change poses to the Pacific Ocean nation. "Six feet above sea level, sitting in the middle of the Pacific, one of the five most vulnerable atoll countries in the world,” deBrum said. "I join Ms. Robinson in saying that we consider this to be a wonderful occasion to be able to tell the world that the problem of climate change is now, and we must deal with it now."
Sign up for Our Newsletter
Get updates about the policies and topics that matter the most to you. Progressive news directly to your email.