UW students take a stand and join NYC People壽猻 Climate March

Approximately 400,000 people gathered in New York City Sept. 21 to participate in the People’s Climate March, including students from the University of Waterloo. The march was organized as a call for climate action in the lead up to the emergency UN Climate Summit that took place Sept. 24.

Dustin Carey, a UW Master’s student in the Faculty of Environment said, “I wanted to be a part of a movement this size so that the next time I hear someone say ‘nobody cares about climate change,’ I can reply that I personally saw hundreds of thousands of people who would disagree with them.”

The summit, called for by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, brought 100 heads of state and government officials, as well as business and civil society leaders to raise political momentum on climate change. This is all in view of negotiations taking place towards a global climate agreement in 2015.

The People’s Climate March was the major event in an action packed weekend across the world. Over 2,500 events and rallies took place in 156 countries to echo the message of the march, including here in Waterloo.

Melanie Klein, a UW environment graduate student, conveyed the importance of the march and the related events.

 “Marching in NYC at the climate march was important for me as it brought a sense of global solidarity. The march marked an important milestone in bringing a united global voice, hope and inspiration in addressing climate change, an issue that faces us all,” Klein said.

Organizers were thrilled with the attendance at the march, calling it the “largest global call for climate action in history” in their press release.  The march in New York City not only blew the pre-march estimates of 100,000 people, it also included some notable attendees. These included the UN Secretary General, former vice-president Al Gore, and actors Leonardo di Caprio, Mark Ruffalo, and Edward Norton. Leading the march were members of communities that are at the front line of the impact of climate change, citizens of island states that are already facing evacuation.

“We said it would take everyone to change everything — and everyone showed up,” said Eddie Bautista, executive director of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, which is one of the 1,500 groups that came together to organize the march.

Mark Pejkovic, another environment Master’s student in attendance, described his experience as inspirational.

  “Standing in the midst of 400,000 people, you can truly begin to feel the energy that inspires change. We are all here demanding an environmental revolution – collectively funneling the voice of climate justice into the ears of our world leaders.”