Sept. 17 climate action: See you in the streets!


On Sept. 20, 2023, the United Nations is planning a “Climate Ambition Summit” at UN Headquarters in Manhattan. As world leaders gather to discuss their nations’ climate policies, thousands are mobilizing to take to the streets on Sept. 17. Climate groups and coalitions in the Northeast have issued a nationwide call for a “March to End Fossil Fuels,” setting forth demands shaped by popular politics, and organizing and mobilizing to strengthen existing grassroots networks, bring more folks into the movement, and show the strength of mass action in the face of the elite machinations of the UN and U.S. government.

Demands from March organizers are straightforward and ambitious: First, to stop all federal approvals for new fossil fuel projects and to repeal permits for projects such as the Willow Project and Alaska LNG pipeline project. Next, to phase out fossil fuel drilling on all public lands and waters. Lastly, for Joe Biden to declare a “climate emergency,” to halt oil exports and investments in fossil fuel projects abroad, and lead a just transition to clean, community energy.

These demands will require a tremendous amount of grassroots power to win. Mass actions such as a march are one essential tactic. Currently, Workers’ Voice members in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey are mobilizing local climate and community groups, labor unions, faith organizations, and student formations to get to New York City on Sept. 17.

Breaking down the demands:

1) Stop all federal approvals for new fossil fuel projects and repeal permits for projects such as the Willow Project and Alaska LNG.This would apply to all future fossil fuel projects, but specific attention is being drawn to two, connected, current projects. The Willow Project is currently the biggest oil-drilling proposal in the United States, with the oil company ConocoPhillips planning to devastate the North Slopes of Alaska, Inupiat land. Alaska LNG is an 800-mile pipeline construction project. Biden approved these projects and yet has publicly promised to cut climate pollution in half by 2030.

This demand highlights the particular reality of current climate chaos, where the US continues the violent displacement of Indigenous people to fund empire.

2) Phase out fossil fuel drilling on all public lands and waters.

While the bourgeois media praised Biden for recently raising the price of drilling on public land, he has rejected calls to completely phase it out. The logic of capitalism puts a price on the land and sells it to the highest bidder. The Inupiat and Indigenous communities worldwide are disproportionately experiencing climate chaos as a public health crisis. The Biden administration has been too lenient with oil companies.

3) Declare a “climate emergency.” Halt oil exports and investments in fossil fuel projects abroad. Lead a just transition to clean, community energy.

This demand might be the weakest because it lacks specificity. The U.S. economy is deeply invested in oil exports and fossil fuel projects, both domestically and internationally. On the other hand, this demand invites imagination and makes it clear that the details of a “just transition” need to be made democratically by the masses, by those most impacted, those defending their live-giving land and waterways.

Plans for the march and aftermath:

The March to End Fossil Fuels will take place on Saturday, Sept. 17, beginning at 1 p.m. The front of the march will be at the intersection of 5th Ave. and West 59th Ave., which is near the southeast corner of Central Park.

The intention is for this action to be a huge, welcoming march for thousands of people. It is an open invitation to people of all kinds to move through Manhattan in a show of power. Organizers are putting together buses with sliding-scale prices from Philadelphia, Connecticut, and Baltimore. Activists who use wheelchairs are brainstorming plans for participation. Free train tickets are available from Hackensack, Maplewood, Hoboken, and Montclair in New Jersey. This is a great opportunity for the masses to show their solidarity at the end of the hottest summer on record.

After the action, our coalition work will only continue in order to win the demands of the march, and so much more. Mark your calendars for a conference on eco-socialism, hosted by Workers’ Voice comrades in New Haven, Conn., on Oct. 28. Philosopher and climate writer Olufemi O. Taiwo will be among the scheduled speakers.

And until then, get your people together—and see you in the streets!

Photo: Shutterstock

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