What was the People’s Climate March?
On Sunday, September 21st, the People’s Climate March (PCM) was held in the streets of New York City. It has since been estimated that up to 400,000 people attended the event, including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former Vice President Al Gore, Bill McKibben, Jane Goodell, and Leonardo DiCaprio. The mission of this march was to form a united front in support of reducing greenhouse gases.
How was UConn involved?
Approximately 80 UConn students participated in the march. While there were a handful of Environmental Science majors and EcoHusky and EcoHouse members, there were also Business students interested in the economic implications of climate change and Political Science majors invested in the human rights aspect of the march. In fact, the diversity of studies included Animal Science, Psychology, Biology, Marketing, Finance, ACES, Natural Resources, Environmental Engineering, and more. Additionally, a bus of around 50 members from the Mansfield community joined the UConn students at the march.
Why was this march so significant?
Government action is stagnant. Climate change, however, is hurdling forward with an intense ferocity. Even the most conservative predictions of how our planet will be affected are deeply troubling. The three pillars of sustainability require that we find a balance between economics, society, and the environment but the heat of politics has made this difficult to achieve. We need to hold the government accountable for the lack of climate policy. Resolving this issue is vital to our survival. Thus, we as citizens need to put pressure on our government to develop international emission reduction commitments and PCM provided an audible platform for us, the people of UConn, the people of the United States, and the people of the world, to do so.
Why is it important that UConn students participated?
Education is the key to environmental progress. The academic setting of our country’s universities is where we need to introduce the concept of green living to the young minds of America and inspire our students to take action. Students are our future. They will become the policymakers, lawyers, activists, engineers, consultants, professors, and researchers that we need to build a sustainable planet. UConn is at the forefront of sustainability and our participation in the march both reflects our environmental goals for our university as well as for our planet.
My name is Emily McInerney and I am a senior at UConn majoring in Natural Resources. I have always cared deeply for the environment but this was my first opportunity to participate in an environmental activism event. To be surrounded by such a large group of individuals who share the same passion for environmentalism was an exceptionally rewarding experience. The thousands of creative displays and signs were outstandingly impressive. While the march was a call for urgent action, it was conducted peacefully, with lively music and dancers filling the street with the optimism of a green, clean energy future. The defining moment of the event was at 12:58pm when there was a moment of silence. New York City is never quiet but for two brief minutes all that could be heard were distant cars and the steady breathing of the marchers as they joined their hands together. This was followed by a long string of howls and cheering. Witnessing these four minutes alone was enough to give someone the shivers and it made me proud to be involved in such a monumental moment in history.
The UN Climate Summit convened on September 23rd and this march helped spark discussion about supporting renewable energies and transitioning away from fossil fuels. Ultimately, we need to implement international laws to support the reduction of greenhouse gases. Whether this will happen only time will tell. Regardless, our voices were heard. Our presence was not only felt on the streets of New York but also throughout the globe, through social media, the news, and the various other climate activism events that took place in other parts of the world in conjunction with PCM. The fight however, is not over. Hopefully the people of our planet will continue to strive for sustainability. UConn and its many environmentally devoted students certainly will.