4 Takeaways From the People’s Climate March

A lot has happened this week in the quest to combat climate change, despite what some claim went largely ignored by major media.

100,000 people were expected, but 400,000 people showed up in NYC for the People’s Climate March, including Al Gore, a stuffed-animal toting Jane Goodall, and the mayor of New York. Activists tried to shut down Wall Street. Again. And actor Leonardo DiCaprio spoke at the United Nations.

Below are highlights of the week, 4 takeaways from the People’s March, plus suggestions from Archbishop Desmond Tutu about where we go from here.

Peoples Climate March

A few weeks back, Care2 asked readers if they’d be showing up to the largest climate march in history. For the 400,000 people who gathered in NYC for the People’s Climate March, the answer was a resounding “Yes,” confirming predictions that it would be the largest climate event in history. In attendance were people from all walks of life.

But the action was not confined to one city or one day. What took place was a worldwide week of action to change the course of history. The People’s Climate website listed the count at 2808 events held in 166 countries (as of 9/25), and posted this statement:

We said it would take everyone to change everything — and everyone came. With world leaders coming to New York City for a landmark summit on climate change, people around the world took to the streets to demand action to end the climate crisis. Now, more than ever, we are a big, beautiful, unified movement. We are coming together around the world like never before to demand a brighter and more just future for everyone.

Here’s a wrap up video from the People’s Climate March in NYC worth checking out:

Who Marched?

Environmentalists, farmers, union members, indigenous leaders, politicians, teachers, nurses, scientists, children and seniors. The list goes on and on. Together they lined the streets of NYC, many bused in from all over the country. Too many to name them all, really, but the People’s March website claims there were 1574 participating organizations and 50,000 college students. As you can see in pictures, there were lots of banners, costumes and chanting, as one might expect.

Democracy Now! explained that organizers arranged the People’s Climate March into different contingents reflecting the movement’s diversity, with indigenous groups leading the way. The front section of the march was specifically designated by organizers for “the people first and most impacted,” which included Hurricane Sandy victims and representatives of the Kichwa from Ecuador, Taino from the Caribbean, and Winnemem Wintu from California.

Here’s video of indigenous leaders at the People’s Climate March in New York:

Among the marchers were a handful of well-known people whose names you might recognize: Jane Goodall, 350.0rg’s Bill McKibben, Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Edward Norton, co-host of CNN’s Crossfire and former White House environmental adviser Van Jones, musician Sting, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Al Gore and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Many celebrities joined the Peoples Climate March in New York city. Including, 2nd from left, Jane Goodall, Al Gore, Bill de Blasio and Ban Ki-Moon. Credit: Robert van Waarden

Global Exchange Community Rights Program Director Shannon Biggs, who got to the march via the People’s Climate Train, describes the day:

400,000 people came together in New York to remind us all that there is no debate, and there is no time to wait to take action. Despite the reasons we gathered the mood was uplifting — we met, networked and rallied together. By the time I got to the end of the march, there were others still waiting to start! I walked behind two full city blocks of Indigenous peoples, and just in front of families with sunflowers, dogs and strollers.

Senior citizen and proud New Yorker Rosie Gee shares her experience:

The day was humid, but not as hot or sunny as originally predicted. I enjoyed seeing the incredible mix of people participating: Elementary school groups, college kids, families, retirees, grand parents who want to leave a decent earth for their kids and grandkids and without-a-doubt men and women who had been to many marches, probably starting in the 1960′s. They were true march veterans! It was an amazing, energizing day and I’m really glad I went.

The Sierra Club’s Kylie Nicole:

The People’s Climate March was the most inspiring gathering for climate action I’ve ever joined. The highlight for me was when the crowd of 400,000 observed a moment of silence for those affected by climate change.

Here’s how Rosie Gee described the Moment of Silence:

At 12:58 everyone took a moment of silence to honor those on the front lines. We saw people linking hands above their heads ahead of us… like a huge wave EVERYONE stopped. There was total silence. Then at 1:00 PM the moment of silence was over and everyone made a noise, to represent the climate alarm that has been ignored for too long. People brought noisemakers, or simply yelled… and although I didn’t hear them from my location, I understand there were 32 marching bands blowing their horns, and church bells were rung around the city.

Clayton Thomas-Muller, Organizer with Defenders of the Land and Idle No More, shared this video of the moment.

4 Takeaways from the Largest Climate March in History

1) “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
2) A LOT of people are concerned about climate change
3) It’s not too late to do something about climate change
4) Climate change impacts everyone and does not discriminate

Climate change has far-reaching consequences for communities around the world, so it makes sense to see such a wide range of participants mobilizing for change. Despite our differences, we all have one thing in common — our shared space, planet earth — so it is in the best interest of us all to protect it.

Flood Wall Street

Flood Wall Street took place after the People’s March and before the UN Climate Summit. Protest organizers put out this call to action:

Flood, blockade, sit-in, and shut down the institutions that are profiting from the climate crisis. The economy of the 1% is destroying the planet, flooding our homes, and wrecking our communities. After the People’s Climate March, wearing blue (to represent the sea that surrounds us), we will bring the crisis to its cause with a mass sit-in at the heart of capital.

So how did it go? As CNN Money reports, the protesters couldn’t march on the actual Wall Street after running into barricades and had to abandon plans to “shut down” the New York Stock Exchange. So instead they surrounded the iconic bull statue in lower Manhattan and chanted slogans demanding “climate justice” and carried signs saying “Corporate capitalism = climate chaos.”

Banners were unfurled, people ‘sat in’, and arrests were made. You can see pictures of the Flood Wall Street action here.

According to the Wall Street Journal: ”Police said they arrested 104 people in total, 102 from the sit-in. All were charged with disorderly conduct.”

United Nations Climate Summit

About 120 world leaders gathered in NYC for the United Nation’s Climate Summit 2014 on September 23, two days after the People’s March, to discuss climate change. This was the first such meeting on climate change in five years.

Speakers included President Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Nelson Mandela’s widow Graça Machel, and of course, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. You can read the complete list of speakers here.

Leonardo DiCaprio addressed the UN Climate Summit in his new role as UN Messenger of Peace. Here’s video of his speech.

President Obama referenced the thousands of marchers in his speech: “Our citizens keep marching. We cannot pretend we do not hear them.” Watch Obama’s complete speech here.

But after all was said and done, The Guardian describes:

As anticipated, the leaders held back on making new commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions or to give significant climate finance to developing countries, leaving it to business, cities and campaign groups to produce the real action on climate. Nelson Mandela’s widow Graça Machel punctured the self-congratulatory mood of the UN summit, saying world leaders had failed to rise to the challenge of climate change, saying “There is a huge mismatch between the magnitude of the challenge and the response we heard here today.”

Mashable put together Top 5 Takeaways From the United Nations Climate Summit.

It’s too soon to tell what if any effect the UN Climate Summit will have moving forward, making it all the more important for people to remain active in their pursuit of climate justice.

What Now?

The People’s Climate March may be over, but the work must continue. The People’s March organizers emailed this message to attendees after the event:

This march came out of months of hard work, building connections with people far and wide, and for all the success of yesterday, it’s ultimately about what we do when we’re in our own communities. It’s about next week, next month, next year. But this is a turning point – a huge step forward in our calls for climate justice.

Nicole plans to continue to help groups like Sierra Club advocate for solutions such as 100 percent clean energy, and Biggs says:

We know no matter what the UN or Obama does now, it’s still up to us to take action in our communities, not just to switch out light bulbs but to organize. Now the challenge for us is to go home, challenge corporate control over nature and our communities. We can no longer be sacrifice zones for profit, we must take a stand for the Earth and for future generations.

Green for All’s mission is building a green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty. Executive Director Nikki Silvestri issued this call to action: “Find an issue and a solution that appeals to you, and let’s get to work.”

What can you do to take action against climate change now?
If you need concrete ideas, watch this video. Archbishop Desmond Tutu speaks about what must be done to address climate change, describing “The destruction of the earth’s environment is the human rights challenge of our time.” In the video, he urges us to “support our leaders to make the correct moral choices” which are:

1. Freeze new fossil fuel exploration
2. Hold those responsible for climate damages accountable
3. Encourage governments to stop accepting fossil fuel money
4. Divest from fossil fuels and invest in a clean energy future

Photo Credit: Photo By: Shadia Fayne Wood


Jim Ven
Jim V1 years ago

thanks for the article.

Warren Webber
Warren Webber3 years ago

Live long and prosper

Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld3 years ago

It is amazing hwo the number of marchers keeps growing.


Carole R.
Carole R3 years ago

Thank you.

Leopold Marek
Leopold Marek3 years ago


Angev GERIDONI3 years ago

❦ ❦ ❦ ❦ ❧ BECOME VEGETARIAN ❧ ❦ ❦ ❦ ❦

Joy Wong
Joy Wong3 years ago


Anne F.
Anne F3 years ago

invest in a clean energy future