Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Over 100 Swarthmore students will travel to New York City to attend the People’s Climate March this Sunday, September 21. Swarthmore Mountain Justice has partnered with Earthlust to organize bus transportation for Tri-Co students and other community members who wish to attend the march, which is expected to draw 250,000 people.
Stephen O’Hanlon ‘17, of Swarthmore Mountain Justice, described Swatties’ attendance at the Climate March as a way to “show the power that [the divestment movement] has build through divestment campaigns…around the country.”
Hazlett Henderson ‘17, also a member of Mountain Justice, hopes that the march will renew enthusiasm for climate justice on campus. After the march, she said, “a lot of people are going to be very excited by divestment, because this is such a big gathering of people. It’s going to show how much support and how much energy there is surrounding this issue.”
In the spring of 2013, 200 students from around the country attended Swarthmore Mountain Justice’s Power Up! Divest Fossil Fuels student convergence dedicated to institutional divestment. Some members of Mountain Justice will attend a divestment-specific meetup in New York City on Saturday, September 20, but most of the weekend will be devoted to larger climate justice discussions and the march itself.
While Swarthmore Mountain Justice’s current campaigns are focused on divestment, the People’s Climate March has a more global focus. The march is being held in response to the UN Climate Summit being held in New York beginning on Tuesday, September 23. United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon called the summit in order to “catalyze ambitious action on the ground” and “mobilize political will for an ambitious global agreement [on climate change] by 2015.” Hanlon sees the march as an opportunity to create global change, saying, “showing the support for such an agreement at the People’s Climate March could really be a pivotal moment that pressures world leaders to really act on climate.”
The People’s Climate March has been organized to walk through six specific “themes” organized to tell a single narrative. The march will begin with those organizers call “most affected” by climate change – indigenous people, the working class, and those impacted by disasters like Hurricane Sandy – assembling on 65th St and 8th Ave at 11:30am. As the march advances it will address intergenerational organizing, solutions from various organizations, and “[call] out those who are holding back progress,” before culminating in a block party on 81st St and 8th Ave at approximately 4:30pm.
Swarthmore students attending the march will return to campus on Sunday night and Monday morning. After their return, Hanlon hopes that the march’s big-picture energy can be used to affect change at Swarthmore: “one of the big things will be bringing the excitement from the People’s Climate March and from this historic occasion back to Swarthmore, and using that as pressure for divestment.”
Featured image courtesy of peoplesclimate.org