Across the country, on Oct. 14, thousands marched for climate justice across the world. In Seattle, hundreds met at City Hall to participate in the People’s Climate March. The protest demonstrated frustration with a slow-moving government in the face of hazardous climate change.
“We’re here because we want to show our politicians that the people really want immediate action on climate change,” said Barbara Bengtsson, activist with local environmental organization 350 Seattle. “So far we haven’t seen any effort to [transition], so that’s why we’re here in numbers to finally stand up for human rights and climate justice.”
The event highlighted the intersection of racial and social equity with climate justice. People of color, union workers and other advocates marched to raise their voices to bring awareness to the effects of capitalism and globalization on climate change.
After marching through downtown, protesters of all ages and races met at Occidental Park to hear a host of speakers discuss the urgent need for action. Author, filmmaker and prolific activist Naomi Klein spoke, wearing a pin in solidarity with those pressuring the Gates Foundation to divest from fossil fuels — something Bill Gates called “a false solution” in a recent interview with The Atlantic.
“Climate change isn’t just about things getting hotter, it’s about things getting meaner,” Klein said. “If you have a society in which systemic racism is the norm, climate change will make it so much worse.”
She went on to explain the need for a movement that is “cross-sectoral,” emphasizing the need for change by using the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as an example of how wounded the system is for those most marginalized.
Sarra Tekola, a young activist with Got Green, delivered some powerful testimony. Her message emphasized the need for inclusivity. “True climate solutions must be decolonial,” Tekola said. “We missed our chance to solve climate change with individual actions in the 1980s. Climate change calls for system change — the fundamental principles that our economy is based on are incompatible with a sustainable planet.”
The demonstrations won’t end here: In December, world leaders will convene in Paris at the annual UN Climate Change Conference, where they will surely be met by the voices of people fighting for climate action and justice.