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News + Politics A people's climate summit

A people’s climate summit

A call for action: Take to the streets Sept. 8 to save the planet


This September, community, political, and business leaders from around the globe will be meeting in San Francisco for the Global Climate Action Summit to discuss the state of climate action in the Trump Era and rally support for compliance with the Paris Climate Accords that Trump has rejected. 

The summit has been actively promoted by Governor Jerry Brown, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, environmental activist Tom Steyer, and more than a dozen mainstream environmental, civic, and business organizations.

At an Aug. 8 rally, artists used charcoal and other materials salvaged from the Northern California fires to make a climate justice mural

Seizing this opportunity, the People’s Climate Movement is mobilizing grassroots climate advocates from across the globe to take to the streets on September 8 (just days before the summit) for a global day of action to challenge the Trump administration’s deregulatory agenda and encourage citizens and politicians alike to “rise for climate, jobs, and justice.” 

The flagship event in San Francisco aspires to be the largest environmental march in the history of the West Coast.

The Rise for Climate, Jobs and Justice mobilization has attracted a growing list of more than 300 local organizational endorsers, including the San Francisco Labor Council and 50 other unions and worker centers.

People with the least resources are the most affected and least able to recover and live resilient lives in the face of climate change. Vulnerable populations, such as children, low-income people, people with disabilities, pregnant women, minorities and first responders suffer most seriously the devastating effects of climate change-related extreme weather events. 

The event is happening as the Trump administration continues its relentless attacks on environmental regulations, on the government agencies responsible for protecting the public, and on the very idea of climate science and the consensus of 97 percent of all climate scientists. 

When Trump announced on June 1, 2017 that the U.S. would end its participation in the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change Mitigation, national and international reaction was overwhelmingly negative from across the political spectrum, including religious organizations, businesses, political leaders of all parties, environmentalists, scientists and labor unions. The governors of 16 States and Puerto Rico formed the United States Climate Alliance to advance the objectives of the Paris Agreement at the state level despite the federal withdrawal. 

Evidence of catastrophic climate change continues to mount, from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico to the 35 uncontained wildfires that burned across the West in mid-July, (more than 50 fires reported by CALFire in CA in July alone), record-breaking heatwaves that have stifled much of the nation, prolonged droughts, melting polar ice caps, and predicted three-to-five-foot sea level rise by end of the century.

With the Rise for Climate, Jobs and Justice mobilization, PCM said it “aims to transform the energy of resistance into action by calling on leaders and elected officials to invest in real solutions to the climate crisis that prioritize the most impacted and vulnerable of our communities, like a massive, just transition to a 100 percent renewable economy that ensures safe and healthy communities, the right to organize for all workers, and millions of family-sustaining jobs.”

The rallies and marches, said PCM national director Paul Getsos, are part of “building power to bring about a new, clean energy economy and a climate movement that is long lasting and sustainable.”

Ahead of these events, various advocacy groups are highlighting how the climate crisis most severely impacts struggling communities.

Miya Yoshitani, executive director of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, emphasized the importance of elected officials following the lead of these communities, which “means going beyond increasing temperatures, droughts, and rising sea levels and recognizing that climate change is a threat multiplier for working families everywhere.

Yoshitani said: “as the largest fires in state history rage around us, it is the six-year anniversary of the Chevron refinery fire in Richmond that blanketed the city in a cloud of toxic smoke and sent 15,000 people to the hospital. We know that pollution from dirty oil and gas doesn’t just impact our neighborhoods, it threatens every neighborhood by destabilizing our climate and intensifying extreme weather.” 

Speaking for the San Francisco Labor Council, Kim Tavaglione from the National Union of Healthcare Workers, discussed why working people should participation, and the motivation of more than 30 labor organizations that have endorsed and formed a Labor Working Group to organize a large labor contingent on September 8th. 

In addition to the September 8 march from The Embarcadero to Civic Center, the week leading up to the Summit, which begins on September 12, will include actions and activities designed to spotlight the impact of climate change on vulnerable communities, as well as to point to solutions to the climate crisis. 

A coalition of environmental justice organizations will sponsor #ItTakesRoots Solidarity to Solutions (#Sol2Sol) Week to highlight frontline communities’ solutions that address the interlinked crises of climate, economic, and racial justice. 

“When it comes to air pollution and climate change, low-income communities, communities of color, and other marginalized groups bear a disproportionate burden, said Rev. Ambrose Carroll of the Church By The Side of The Road.“Ignoring these truths and spurning our obligation to protect the most vulnerable among us is morally wrong.”

The mobilization will occur less than two months ahead of this year’s midterm elections. It will demand of politicians and elected officials more effective action on climate change to go beyond the market solutions favored by Governor Brown and other Summit backers.

More information about the mobilization is available here.

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