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Climate change protesters rally in NYC

By BELINDA ROBINSON in New York | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-09-21 10:50

Thousands of protesters from around the world descended on Lower Manhattan this week, to noisily demonstrate against climate change, as world leaders met at the United Nations on Wednesday for a one-day climate ambition summit.

The protesters, holding up brightly colored placards, with the words: "Stop Global Warming!" and "Fuels Kill", marched and chanted through the streets of New York calling for an end to the use of fossil fuels.

Alice Hu of New York Communities for Change, a nonprofit organization that tries to stir political change told CBS News: "Fossil fuels are the number one cause of the climate crisis. With the climate crisis, [there is] more extreme weather, climate disasters, food shortages, droughts, climate migration, climate chaos all over the world."

President Joe Biden traveled to New York on Tuesday to address the UN on Ukraine, but was not scheduled to attend Wednesday's dedicated climate summit.

It comes as activists say that the US is not doing enough on Biden's commitment to achieve a net zero emissions economy by 2050. Experts said that the country will carry out one-third of the world's planned drilling for oil and gas up until 2050.

Activists urged Biden to stop approving fossil fuel projects and act swiftly on lessening the use of coal, oil and natural gas, which they attributed to climate change.

But the White House said that Biden has "set an ambitious US goal of achieving a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and net zero emissions economy by no later than 2050".

The demonstrations, being held during Climate Week, started on Sept 17. The activists are supported by a coalition of 700 global climate organizations.

On Sept 19, at least 20 people were arrested at a climate change protest outside Bank of America in Manhattan, where they blocked the entrance.

The New York Police Department (NYPD) arrested 11 women and nine men at the demonstration and charged them with civil disobedience.

Protesters targeted the location because they accuse the bank of being the third-largest financier of fossil fuels.

"We're here to show that they have blood on their hands," a demonstrator, wearing a black t-shirt with "Rainforest Action Network" emblazoned on it said while using a microphone to address the crowd outside the bank.

A report titled "Banking on Chaos" showed that US banks are among the largest fossil fuel financiers since the Paris Agreement in 2015. Protesters also targeted Citigroup's headquarters in Tribeca.

Bank of America would not comment on the accusations leveled against them. But the bank said that it was committed to achieving "environmental sustainability" by reaching a goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions in its operations before 2050.

On Monday amid a "March to End Fossil Fuels", the NYPD arrested 114 people on Wall Street. They were all charged with civil disobedience and later released.

Protesters have called on Biden to declare a climate emergency. But over the past 100 years, the US has contributed more to put heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than any other country.

Thanu Yakupitiyage is a former communications director of 350 Action, an organization that mobilizes progressive voters and gets climate champions elected.

She told China Daily: "If we continue to drill, if we continue to use fossil fuels, and actually not find a solution out of it, [it will get worse] and we do have the solutions, solar is cheaper than ever before, electric cars can be made cheaper. ... But instead, what's happening is that the fossil fuel lobby continues to keep itself in business."

On Sunday, organizers estimated that 75,000 people attended another march on the Upper East Side.

Demonstrators yelled that the future and their lives depended on ending the use of fossil fuels.

Protesters were joined by Democratic US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and actors Susan Sarandon, Ethan Hawke, Edward Norton, Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon.

The UN climate summit Wednesday included speakers Michael Bloomberg and new World Bank President Ajay Banga, along with representatives from clean energy companies and international environment ministers. It is the last meeting of world leaders until the UN COP28 climate deliberations in Dubai in December.

It comes after the world saw record breaking heat this summer — the hottest season on record, which sparked renewed warnings from scientists on global warming.

"Humanity has opened the gates to hell," UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned at the opening of the climate action summit on Wednesday.

Yakupitiyage added: "We need for the United States to be pushing more in renewables, more in climate solutions."

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