It’s as simple as “off and on,” according to 350.org, the global climate action movement coalition calling for an international day of action on Friday, October 16. “Turn off the old kind of energy that’s killing us, and turn on a renewable future” is the message they wish to send to delegates attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris late this fall. The international day-of-action being called for this month is intended to send a strong message to the UN delegates encouraging them to take decisive actions to reverse climate change by drastically reducing fossil fuel emissions.
To that end, local environmental groups that include the New Paltz Climate Action Coalition (NPCAC), Riverkeeper, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater and Sierra Club are sponsoring “Walkway to Paris: A Rally for Climate Action” on the Walkway Over the Hudson on Friday, October 16 from 1-5 p.m. The goal is to raise consciousness about the situation and to call upon elected officials to not just commit to but actually carry out measures that will reverse climate change.
“We want to have speakers initiating conversations with people along the bridge,” says Ann Guenther, founding member of the NPCAC. “We want artists and musicians to help us, maybe students from countries that are being affected. We might have professors, scientists or just local citizens who have a particular reason for being concerned about this. And in addition to holding a program with featured notables, this is a chance for people just to talk with each other about the issues and maybe figure out things that they themselves can do.”
A number of buses will be available on the SUNY New Paltz campus to shuttle participants to the Walkway. The student presence at the action is expected to be strong, but anyone from the community who wishes to be involved is welcome to take one of the buses to the site.
“One of the things that we’re hoping to do at this rally is to send a letter to President Obama. We haven’t figured out yet who is going to deliver it, but we’re going to have a large banner asking the president to support strong measures at the Paris Summit to reduce global carbon emissions even if it means raising prices, including gas.”
Dan Guenther, also a founding member of NPCAC, says the event is “basically a result of frustration on the part of our group and other environmental groups in our area that political posturing and economics have been favored over the environment; literally over the species. And one of the things that Ann and I and our group are super conscious of is that it’s the poor people of the globe that always take the heaviest hit and are the first to significantly feel the results of climate change.”
“And it’s not just people we’re talking about,” adds Ann. “We’re talking about the whole biodiversity of the planet. Already with ocean temperatures rising, scientists are seeing a decline of species and perhaps losses of species as it progresses. It’s not just a human problem.”
The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference will be held in Paris from November 30 to December 11. It will be the 21st yearly session of the Conference of the Parties to the 1992 U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the eleventh session of the Meeting of the Parties to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The objective of the conference is to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement from all nations of the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit the global temperature to 2 °C above pre-industrial levels.
Leadership of the negotiations has yet to be determined. The Summit will be held at Le Bourget; the location of UNFCCC talks are rotated by regions throughout U.N. countries.
The Walkway Over the Hudson was chosen as the location for the local rally because it is both a regional and global icon and physically and symbolically unites the two sides of the Hudson River. “When you walk to the middle of that bridge, and you look out over our Hudson Valley, it gives you a whole different perspective about the earth,” says Ann Guenther. “Day to day, we see a tree here, a flower there and kind of think more locally, but the Walkway gives more of a broad perspective of what we’re talking about. It makes us think about what the effects of climate change could be.”
More information is available at (845) 419-3786, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the New Paltz Climate Action Coalition Facebook page