In the wake of Sunday’s landmark Climate March, the United Nations has begun deliberations that are supposed to lead to a new set of carbon emissions limits next year. How can the voices from Sunday’s march penetrate the halls of the U.N.?
The hundreds of grassroots, community-based organizations who marched say they are paving the way for global climate action by creating a broad base of support at the local level.
Michael Turi of Nassau County People’s Climate spoke with NY Environment Report about the impact of climate change on the Southern Shore of Long Island, and the group’s hopes for the U.N. climate summit. Turi described the group as “citizen activists” who “care about the environment and [are] showing it with their feet.”
What’s the Long Island grassroots strategy for obtaining meaningful action on climate change, we asked Turi. “There needs to be enough of a message [from Sunday’s march] so they [political leaders] can go back and get the buy-in of the people who they represent,” he answered.
“And those people will tell their leaders: this is important to us; this is what matters; this is real. It’s affecting everybody and it’s already started and it’s only going to get worse and more expensive, and we need to spend the time dealing with it now to prevent what could happen later.”
This philosophy of building pressure from below applies to political leaders across the globe, said Turi. He added that the cumulative power of environmental action at the local level should not be under-estimated.
“We’re participating in something larger than ourselves today but it’s important to act where you are,” Turi stressed.
“There are environmental issues locally in every community that need to be addressed including as pertains to climate change…We care about climate change in Nassau County, and that’s where we’re going to act upon it. All of these people …[at the march] they’re from somewhere. If everyone acts where they are, that adds up to a lot of trench and action.”
Throughout the week we will be posting audio recordings of interviews with participants at Sunday’s Climate March. We think that the marchers -and their experiences dealing with local environmental issues- represent an enormous collective resource.