Massive Protests Inaugurate Climate Summit, Calling for Termination of Fossil Fuels Contributing to Global Warming

by Lucas Garcia
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Climate Summit Protests Against Fossil Fuels

Shouting that their future, as well as their lives, hinges on the termination of fossil fuels, an immense crowd of demonstrators assembled on Sunday to launch a week focused on mitigating climate change, primarily driven by the consumption of coal, oil, and natural gas.

Despite these intentions, the demonstrators express skepticism that the efforts will be sufficient. They specifically targeted U.S. President Joe Biden, exhorting him to cease the authorization of new oil and gas ventures, dismantle existing projects, and invoke greater executive authority by declaring a climate emergency.

“Your electoral victory rests on the collective will of the people—a will that you need to acknowledge if you aim for reelection in 2024. To avoid being complicit in the suffering of future generations, you must abolish fossil fuels,” stated 17-year-old Emma Buretta from Brooklyn, a member of the youth activism group Fridays for Future.

The March to Terminate Fossil Fuels saw participation from various public figures, including Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and actors such as Susan Sarandon, Ethan Hawke, Edward Norton, Kyra Sedgwick, and Kevin Bacon. Nonetheless, the heart of the action was on Broadway, where a throng of demonstrators filled the streets, advocating for a more sustainable yet less overheated future. This march marked the commencement of New York’s Climate Week—a gathering of global leaders from various sectors to deliberate on environmental conservation, culminating in a specialized United Nations summit on Wednesday.

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Many national leaders from countries contributing significantly to carbon emissions are notably absent. They will not participate in the summit orchestrated by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who has limited speaking opportunities to those nations committing to substantial new actions.

An estimated 75,000 individuals took part in the Sunday march.

“We represent a global populace that is collectively voicing its demand for an end to the factors that endanger us,” said Ocasio-Cortez to an enthusiastic assembly. “Some of us will inhabit this planet for decades to come, and we will not accept denial or inaction.”

This protest was more centered on the fossil fuel sector than prior demonstrations. According to Dana Fisher, an American University sociologist who specializes in environmental movements, Sunday’s gathering was distinct in its demographic composition: 15% were participating in a protest for the first time, and the majority were women.

The experience of extreme weather was common among attendees, as per Fisher’s observations: 86% had faced extreme heat, 21% had encountered floods, and 18% had lived through severe drought. The world has recently experienced its hottest recorded summer.

Among those who marched was Athena Wilson, an 8-year-old from Boca Raton, Florida, who traveled with her mother, Maleah, specifically for the event. “We are here because we care for our planet, and we wish for its healing,” Athena stated.

Many demonstrators felt particularly aggrieved that President Biden, whom they supported in the 2020 election, has allowed an increase in oil and fossil fuel drilling.

“Our lives are contingent on your immediate actions, Mr. President,” warned Louisiana environmental activist Sharon Lavigne. “Failure to act places the responsibility for our peril squarely on your shoulders.”

Environmental advocates estimate that nearly one-third of all planned oil and gas drilling until 2050 involves U.S. entities. Historically, the United States has been the largest contributor to atmospheric carbon dioxide, though China has surpassed it in terms of annual emissions.

Jean Su, a march organizer and energy justice director for the Center for Biological Diversity, summed up the collective sentiment, “For the survival of our planet, fossil fuels must be phased out.”

Despite the urgency expressed by the protesters, the oil and gas sectors defend their role in the economy. Megan Bloomgren, Senior Vice President of the American Petroleum Institute, stated, “While we acknowledge the critical importance of addressing climate change without further delay, we believe that eliminating domestic energy options would place American households and businesses at the mercy of unstable foreign regions, resulting in increased costs and less reliable energy.”

Activists remain unpersuaded by such arguments.

“By exploiting the Earth’s resources without constraint, the fossil fuel industry has precipitated rising waters, changing atmospheric conditions, and increasing heat-related fatalities,” declared Rabbi Stephanie Kolin of Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn. “But you, Mr. President, have the option to tread a different path—a path of stewardship for the Earth.”

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Climate Summit Protests Against Fossil Fuels

What was the main aim of the protests that took place on Sunday?

The main aim of the protests was to call for the termination of fossil fuels contributing to global warming. The protestors specifically targeted U.S. President Joe Biden, urging him to cease authorization of new oil and gas ventures, dismantle existing projects, and declare a climate emergency.

Who were some notable participants in the March to Terminate Fossil Fuels?

Notable participants included Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and actors such as Susan Sarandon, Ethan Hawke, Edward Norton, Kyra Sedgwick, and Kevin Bacon. Activists and community leaders also took part.

How many people were estimated to have participated in the march?

Organizers estimated that 75,000 people participated in the march.

What was the demographic composition of the protest, according to American University sociologist Dana Fisher?

According to Dana Fisher, 15% of the participants were taking part in a protest for the first time, and the majority were women. Many had also recently experienced extreme weather events such as heat, floods, and droughts.

What was New York’s Climate Week?

New York’s Climate Week is a gathering of world leaders from various sectors, including business, politics, and the arts, who assemble to deliberate on measures to mitigate climate change. The week was highlighted by a special United Nations summit on Wednesday.

What were some criticisms protesters had for President Joe Biden?

Protesters criticized President Biden for allowing an increase in oil and fossil fuel drilling despite the urgency of the climate crisis. They called on him to cease authorizing new oil and gas projects and to phase out existing ones.

Were there any criticisms of countries not attending the U.N. Climate Summit?

Yes, it was noted that many leaders from countries contributing significantly to carbon emissions were not in attendance at the U.N. Climate Summit. The summit was orchestrated in such a way that only countries promising new concrete actions were invited to speak.

What were the feelings or sentiments expressed by protestors?

Protestors primarily expressed a sense of urgency and a demand for immediate action to mitigate climate change. They were generally skeptical of the sufficiency of current efforts and conveyed feelings of disappointment, particularly towards U.S. leadership.

What is the stance of the oil and gas industry on the protests?

The American Petroleum Institute defended the oil and gas sectors as vital to the American economy. They advocated for confronting climate change without eliminating domestic energy options, arguing that doing so would increase costs and make energy less reliable.

How does the march differ from previous climate-related demonstrations?

This protest was more narrowly focused on the fossil fuel industry than previous marches. It also attracted a large number of first-time protestors and was overwhelmingly female, according to sociological observations.

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