On Sept. 21, 2014, then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon invited world leaders to discuss climate solutions needed to fix “one of the greatest moral issues of our time” — a phrase borrowed from Pope Francis. The world was over a year away from the Paris Agreement (COP21) and still reeling from the setbacks of the Copenhagen Agreement (COP 15) which dismantled many regulations of the Kyoto Protocol.
Promises of a successful United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Lima, Peru (COP20) in December 2014 filled many Americans with hope. Still, a great number remained skeptical of the South American summit goal of implementing international climate regulations — prompting climate leaders to get ahead of it by organizing the first People’s Climate March during the United Nations’ Climate Summit.
The event welcomed climate leaders from around the world to descend on New York City to amplify their voices and to urge the United States and the United Nations to take swift action to curb the harmful impacts of climate change. Health professionals, scientists, politicians, and faith leaders not only made the first People’s Climate March a success, they made it one the largest climate gatherings the world had ever seen. 400,000 people from every walk of life marched through the streets of New York City demanding bold and urgent action, which organizers fondly recall as being the “re-boot the climate movement needed.”
Since the first march in 2014, climate solutions have largely moved in the right direction with Obama’s Clean Power Plan and the Paris Agreement, but there is a new hurdle to overcome, and this year’s climate march will mark its one-hundredth day in office. The People’s Climate March website explains: “On the 100th Day of the Trump Administration [April 29], we will be in the streets of Washington D.C. to show the world and our leaders that we will resist attacks on our people, our communities and our planet.”
President Trump’s first one hundred days in office have been a roller coaster of policy changes and executive orders, including restrictions placed on America’s Environmental Protection Agency followed by a major cut to the agency’s funding. Between these restrictions and an administrative cabinet full of climate deniers and skeptics, the People’s Climate March has never been more important. But climate leaders aren’t stopping there.
While April has been home to Earth Day for decades, it’s now been transformed into an entire month of action, community building, and faith outreach. From the March for Science to Interfaith Power and Light’s Faith Climate Action Week, April has something for everyone.
Blessed Tomorrow’s partner organization Creation Justice Ministries, for example, will gather “people of Orthodox, Protestant, Historically Black, Baptist, and Peace Church traditions to connect with their religious leadership” during this year’s People's Climate March in Washington, DC.
Among the many amazing faith communities participating, The United Methodist Church is hosting a special event the day before the People's Climate March in Virginia. The Climate Justice Conference (United Methodist Caretakers for God’s Creation) is designed to inspire worship, welcome climate leadership speakers, and host workshops to help people of faith develop climate justice within faith communities.
Can’t make it to D.C., Virginia or New York? No problem! There are plenty of sister marches and events around the world. From Seattle to Miami, climate marches are happening all over America, and finding an event near you is easy. Simply enter your zip code and see what’s happening in your city.
A great way to stay connected to faith events surrounding the People’s Climate March is to join the Facebook page People of Faith & the People's Climate March. Updates are posted regularly and new events are added as they come.
As a faith leader, your presence at the People’s Climate March is invaluable. People trust faith leaders and their advocacy for value-based climate solutions that will help get America back on track. Together, people of faith can tell President Trump and his cabinet that we demand solutions before it’s too late.
Ryan Smith is a writer at Blessed Tomorrow. He received his master's degree in Religious Studies with an emphasis on faith and climate change from the University of California, Riverside.
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