Worldwide #RiseForClimate Events Kick Off to Demand Action on Crisis of Warming Planet

“Climate change is the defining issue of our time,” say 350.org’s executive director. “It is a crisis of democracy, justice, and human rights.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-7-2018

Activists gathered in Melbourne, Australia on Friday as part of the weekend’s global #RiseForClimate movement. (Photo: @350Australia/Twitter)

Building up to a mass mobilization planned for hundreds of cities across the globe on Saturday, campaigners have already kicked off #RiseForClimate demonstrations that aim to raise awareness about the climate crisis, encourage urgent action from policymakers to keep fossil fuels in the ground, and call for a full transition to renewable energy.

More than 800 actions are planned throughout the world and in the United States, from smaller towns and cities like Portland, Maine, to the Rise for Climate, Jobs, and Justice event in San Francisco—expected to draw thousands for the West Coast’s largest ever climate march. Those interested in participating can locate events using the movement’s map and searchable database.

Several actions are being organized by members of Sunrise, a movement of young climate activists.

“Our generation is fed up with a corrupt and complacent political establishment that time and again prioritizes the profits of fossil fuel CEOs over the safety and well-being of millions of people across the world,” said Sunrise co-founder Varshini Prakash.”

“We are bringing people from frontline and communities of color, union members, environmental activists, people of faith, and young people together for both a moment…and a movement,” noted People’s Climate Movement national director Paul Getsos. He emphasized the importance of “connecting the actions”—which include community forums, rallies, and vigils—”to building power at the local and state level, and from the mid-terms to 2020 and beyond.”

“This weekend Rise for Climate will demonstrate the growing strength and diversity of the climate movement,” which is “made stronger by its sister movements: for human rights, economic justice, democracy, and much more,” declared 350.org executive director May Boeve.

“Communities everywhere will show loudly and clearly what is expected from decision-makers to deliver on real climate leadership and build a fossil-free economy,” she added. “Climate change is the defining issue of our time, it is a crisis of democracy, justice, and human rights.”

Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, turned to Twitter to highlight some of the actions that have happened already, including flash mobs in Vietnam as well as events in New York City and Kyrgyzstan:

Despite some rain on Thursday evening, climate activists took to the streets of Manhattan to demand a transition to 100 percent renewable energy, a halt on all new dirty energy projects, making corporate polluters pay for the consequences of their business practices, and divestment from fossil fuels:

Also on Thursday, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) introduced the Retirement Investments for a Sustainable Economy (RISE) Act, which would “give federal employees the flexibility and freedom to choose a more sustainable, socially responsible investment portfolio,” according to a fact sheet (pdf) from the senator’s office.

The RISE Act would mandate the creation of a climate choice stock option under the Thrift Savings Plan (TPS)—a tax-deferred retirement savings and investment plan for federal workers—”that is free from investment in fossil fuel companies,” and require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to produce a report within one year “examining the risk for investors from TSP holdings in fossil fuel companies given policies to keep average global temperature increases to 2º Celsius.”

Climate campaigners praised the senator’s legislative proposal, with 350.org’s Boeve calling it “a big step forward in our efforts to break the fossil fuel industry’s stranglehold on Washington.” As President Donald Trump and “his Big Oil buddies double-down on climate denial,” she said, “this bill helps move workers, our government, and our economy where we need to go.”

Merkley’s new divestment measure and the #RiseForClimate events precede the Global Climate Action Summit that California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, will host in San Francisco beginning on Sept. 12. As his state continues to battle ferocious wildfires exacerbated by the human-made climate crisis, Brown is under intense pressure from constituents, activists, and other elected leaders to match his lofty rhetoric with the kind of policies the threat demands.

With the demonstrations this weekend, said Asian Pacific Environmental Network executive director Miya Yoshitani, “we’re sending a message to the elected officials and corporate executives gathering for the summit next week that we need equitable, community-led solutions, not profit-driven approaches like cap-and-trade that allow big polluters to buy and sell our right to clean air and a stable climate.”

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