Epic Climate March Activates Communities to Transition to 100% Renewable Energy
Following the epic April 29 Climate March for jobs, justice and climate, organizers are focusing on building powerful and lasting change at the local and state level.
Organizers plan to harness the momentum from the Peoples Climate March back into their own communities to stop new fossil fuel infrastructure, secure commitments for transitioning to 100 percent clean energy, prioritize solutions in communities hardest hit by the climate crisis and pressure elected officials to choose a side.
Last weekend, on the 100th day of the Trump presidency, more than 200,000 people mobilized at the Peoples Climate March, surrounding the White House to resist to the administration's attacks on people and the planet, and present a bold vision for the transition away from fossil fuels toward 100 percent renewable energy. Enduring record heat, heavy rain, and driving snow, more than 370 sister marches took place across the country and around the world. Now, organizers are taking this power back to their communities.
"The best defense is a good offense. We know we'll get nothing but regression from the executive branch, so we're going to build power in every community across the country to fight for climate justice," said Jenny Marienau, 350.org U.S. campaigns director.
"The Trump administration spent its first months in office rolling back hard-won protections of our communities and our climate. We spent it developing a shared vision of the transition away from fossil fuels toward a 100 percent clean energy that works for all of us."
In the lead-up to the Peoples Climate March, 350.org launched a pledge to harness the energy of the hundreds of thousands of people already mobilized for the march and channel it back into campaigns for lasting local change.
"We learned invaluable lessons in the fights for fossil fuel divestment and against the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines," said Marienau.
"Now, with fossil fuel companies perpetuating climate chaos from the nation's highest office, we're wielding those learnings to make sure the fight to stop fossil fuel projects is a top issue for anyone currently in or considering, elected office."
This level of building local power is well-underway across the country. The Indigenous-led fights against the risky Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines brought together unprecedented coalitions of groups fighting for justice at every level. In Nevada, the Moapa Band of Paiutes—subjected to half a century of toxic coal waste—launched a solar power project while organizing to shutter a nearby coal station. Led by local group 350PDX, Portland, Oregon unanimously passed a resolution banning any new fossil fuel infrastructure from passing through the region. Just days after the Climate March, Atlanta, Georgia became the largest in the U.S. South to commit to transitioning to 100 percent clean energy, heeding the community's calls for bold solutions. In New York, the broad Divest NY coalition is building power across the state in escalating the call for the city and state comptrollers to cut ties with fossil fuels and reinvest in New Yorkers.
Days ahead of the historic Peoples Climate mobilization, Senators Jeff Merkley and Bernie Sanders introduced the "100 by '50 Act," a piece of legislation that calls for 100 percent clean energy by 2050. While recognizing the legislation likely won't move under the Trump administration, the Senators and their supporters view this as a "roadmap for America."
"If this type of visionary legislation can be introduced at the federal level under the Trump administration, there's no excuse left for officials at the city and state level," said Jason Kowalski, 350.org U.S. policy director.
"At the Peoples Climate March, we put forward this vision nationally. Now we'll hold every elected official accountable—no one is off the hook."
By working at the local and regional level, communities will organize for powerful and lasting change, forcing elected officials to choose a side: that of Trump and his fossil fuel billionaire cabinet or that of the people fighting for a stable climate and an economy that works for everyone.
"The majority of people in the U.S. support replacing fossil fuels with a clean energy economy, so we're going to make this an issue in every community across the country," said Marienau. "With intensifying storms and droughts, we'll work to make sure those most responsible pay for these impacts. Only with bold demands will we secure the just transition toward a 100 percent clean energy economy that works for all of us."