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Thousands march in heat of Washington to advocate for climate

By Chen Weihua | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-05-01 04:54

It was a sweltering Saturday afternoon when the mercury hit 90 degrees around 3 pm; Nikki White was one of the many sitting on the edge of the sidewalk across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House.

She was one of tens of thousands of protesters in Washington participating in the People's Climate March on Saturday.

The protesters started from Capitol Hill around 12:30 pm and marched on Pennsylvania Avenue toward the White House, ending at the Washington Monument.

White said she was quite disappointed in US President Donald Trump for doubting climate change.

"So he won't fund it; he takes away funds from it," she told China Daily, referring Trump's plan to cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

White noted that climate change affects every country. "A decision made in the US affects Canada," said White, who is originally from the US but moved to Canada. She was visiting her family in Washington.

"Anything he stands for has nothing to do with what I stand for. It's the opposite," White said.

During his presidential campaign, Trump called climate change a "hoax" created by the Chinese and said he will pull the US out of the Paris climate agreement. Since taking office, his administration has rolled back some Obama-era regulations on fossil fuels.

On Friday, the EPA removed some climate change information from its website. In a press release, the EPA said the website is undergoing changes to reflect the agency's new direction under Trump and administrator Scott Pruitt.

In a rally on Saturday evening in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Trump said he will make a big decision regarding the Paris accord next week, but did not provide details.

An estimated 50,000 to 100,000 people took part in the rally in Washington on Saturday, according to The Washington Post, quoting the number given to the National Park Service by march organizers. Saturday was Trump's 100th day in office.

The same People's Climate March, which originated in New York in September 2014, also took place on the same day in many other US cities as well as some cities outside the US.

Robert Labaree came from Boston to join the rally in Washington. He said his wife participated in the Boston rally.

"The administration is just too deep in the pocket of large corporations, especially the fossil fuel industry. It seems quite clear," he told China Daily. He also took part in the tax rally on April 15 and science march on April 22, both in Boston.

Marching in the procession included a brass band. Some were dancing while holding their signs. The signs were mostly colorful. One blue sign read "Protect Water" while a red one said "Planet on Fire".

One man, with a white beard and wearing a green cap, held a sign that proclaimed "Oceans Are Rising, So Are We."

An elderly woman sitting in a wheelchair held a sign that reads: "I am 91, Mother Earth is even older than me, Respect your elders."

Another woman, her body wrapped with a US national flag, held a sign stating "Climate Patriot."

A Gallup poll released on March 14 shows that a record percentage of Americans are concerned about global warming, believe it is occurring, consider it a serious threat and say it is caused by human activity.

The perceptions are up significantly from a 2015 poll. Some 45 percent of Americans now say they worry "a great deal" about global warming, up from 37 percent a year ago and significantly higher than the low point of 25 percent in 2011.

Another 21 percent say they worry "a fair amount" about global warming, while only 18 percent say they worry "only a little"; 16 percent said they worry "not at all".

Randy Orwig, from North Carolina, told China Daily that he went to the protest to make sure the environment is taken seriously.

Orwig said he doesn't believe Trump represents the long-term interests of the United States and the world.

"We are going to resist. We are going to find ways to work around him. We are going to be working in the local governments, municipal governments and continue to make climate important," he told China Daily.

China and the US are the two largest carbon emitters in the world, but per capital carbon emission in the US is more than twice that in China.

Contact the writer at chenweihua@chinadailyusa.com


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