Tens of thousands of people have held mass rallies and other events in cities across the US as part of a worldwide demonstration known as the Rise for Climate.
The protesters on Saturday demanded that officials speed up transition to a world powered by renewable energy rather than planet-warming fossil fuels, and protect the people most susceptible to climate-addled weather, including droughts, heatwaves and superstorms.
The protests peaked in San Francisco as around 30,000 people took part in marches, calling on California Governor Jerry Brown to end fossil fuel extraction in the state, organizers said.
The march came just days before the opening of the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, where officials and business leaders from across the world will discuss accelerating climate programs.
Brown has come under criticism for allowing the expansion of natural gas and oil extraction under his watch.
The demonstrators began their rallies from the city’s Embarcadero Plaza, beating drums and carrying handmade banners and posters.
“Alternative Energy, not Alternative Facts,” read one poster, with another, saying, “More Science, Less Bullshit.”
“Climate change is not a niche topic anymore,” said Payal Parekh, program director for 350.org, an umbrella organization for hundreds of activist groups around the world.
“More and more people are seeing how the fossil fuel industry is ultimately responsible for the climate crisis,” he told AFP.
“Fossil fuels need to be kept in the ground.”
If we are bold, if we have the courage to take on the fossil fuel industry, if we are prepared to invest in sustainable energy, we can make the necessary changes to save the planet. And that’s exactly what we have to do. #RiseForClimate
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) September 8, 2018
Also, an array of activities, including rallies, voter registration drives and vigils, were set to start across other US cities like Boston, Miami and Portland, Oregon.
Last year, the US under President Donald Trump withdrew from the Paris climate agreement, which promised $100 billion annually from 2020 to poor nations already coping with floods, heatwaves and rising sea levels exacerbated by climate change.
Trump characterized his decision as “a reassertion of American sovereignty.”
“In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord,” Trump said then.
Michael Brune, executive director of environment group the Sierra Club, said Saturday, “Today, people across the country are rising up for climate, jobs and justice in their communities to fight back against Trump’s toxic agenda and to send a message to every politician that the time for action is now.”
“Families living in the shadows of coal plants and oil refineries, losing homes and livelihoods to wildfires and extreme weather, and struggling to make a living wage are coming together because we know we don’t have time to waste.”