If all goes according to plan, more than 100,000 people will gather near Central Park West on Sunday morning and march through midtown to raise awareness for climate change.
The People’s Climate March is set two days ahead of the start of the United Nations’ Climate Summit, which will bring all UN member states to New York in hopes of creating a “global agreement by 2015 that limits the world to a less than 2-degree Celsius rise in global temperature,” according to the summit website.
“The biggest message is that it (climate) really affects everyone,” said Lindsay Meiman, a member of the People’s Climate March media team.
Meiman said the march is expected to be the largest climate rally yet, and will be “bigger and better” than the demonstrations at the 2009 UN climate talks in Copenhagen.
Over the next few days, activists will continue to make phone calls and hand out flyers in the subway to increase the turnout, Meiman said. Volunteers are working on environmentally friendly floats, posters and other props for the march in a Bushwick warehouse, and arriving activists are increasing the momentum and excitement, Meiman said.
“This is a really historic movement, I keep telling people they’ll tell their grandchildren they were at the march,” said Elana Sulakshana, 19, who attends Columbia University.
Sulakshana is a member of Barnard Columbia Divest for Climate Justice, a group working in hopes of separating the university’s endowment from fossil fuel investments. The sophomore said she has spent the last few weeks recruiting students to march, and said a Facebook event has 900 RSVPs from university students.
“I’ve never seen so much energy at Columbia around something like this,” Sulakshana said. “People seem really supportive.”
Arnivan Chatterjee, a 37 year old data strategist from San Francisco, knew he needed to travel to New York when he started hearing activist groups from across the United States and the globe would be converging on the city.
Chatterjee is a member of Brown and Green: South Asian Americans for Climate Justice, and said the groups’ members, from countries including India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh, have family members who grew up in a “climate ground zero.”
“For us, it’s a huge opportunity to take action against dirty fossil fuel companies,” Chatterjee said, adding South Asian-Americans make up about 1 percent of the U.S. population, and the changes benefit both countries.
“We want to make sure our voices are heard, on the right side of history,” Chatterjee said.
The march starts at 11:30 a.m. Sunday at Central Park West between 65th and 86th Streets. The route travels down Central Park West, turning east on 59th street, south on 6th Avenue, west on 42nd Street to end at 11th Avenue and 34th Street around 2 p.m. At 1 p.m., the march will stop for a moment of silence “to honor those impacted by climate change and the fossil fuel industry,” followed by cacophony of noise to “sound the climate alarm” with 23 marching bands, church bells, shofars, trumpets and other instruments joining in.
More information on the People’s Climate March and other climate-based events that continue through Sept. 26 is available athttp://peoplesclimate.org/events/.