Mere hours after U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders told the American public that the greatest danger to national security is climate change, a large crowd is expected to descend on the Arizona capitol in Phoenix to demand that state leaders take aggressive action to combat the threat.
The planned action is part of the second-annual People's Climate Movement, an event that made headlines around the world last year as the single largest climate-change march in history. And this year, organizers hope to up the ante with protests, marches, and other actions that are slated to take place in 100 U.S. cities.
In Phoenix, organizers have scheduled a full day of events because, as one of them, Stacey Champion, explains, “Arizona is in the bullseye of climate change, [and] it is our duty as inhabitants of this planet to act on climate immediately — locally, nationally, and globally."
The theme of this year's actions is climate justice, and organizers are attempting to draw attention to the ways in which climate change disproportionately affects the poorest individuals in the world. As such, the kick-off event today in Phoenix is a lunchtime gathering at Central Arizona Shelter Services where volunteers plan to pass out hundreds of donated umbrellas, toiletries, and other crucial items for survival.
The second event today is a demonstration outside of the Arizona capitol building to demand that state leaders do more to take on the threat of climate change by adopting a strong plan for clean power — many of Arizona's elected officials have consistently railed against the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan and looked for any way possible to undermine it or to get around adopting it.
“We need our leaders to act on climate change now. The Clean Power Plan adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency is a good start, but we must implement it and do more for all of us and future generations," says Sandy Bahr, director of the Arizona Chapter of the Sierra Club.
The third and final event of the day is a candle-light vigil in Cesar Chavez Plaza beginning at 5:30 p.m. Speakers and music are planned. According to event organizers, this will be a family-friendly gathering, and attendees are encouraged to "bring a photograph or drawing of something you're worried about losing because of climate change. It could be a person, an animal, the ocean, coffee, chocolate, etc."
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Today's scheduled national actions also come in advance of next month's United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. The goal of this year's meeting is to get global leaders to negotiate and sign a legally binding agreement on curbing climate change.
Paul Getsos, national coordinator of the People’s Climate Movement, says the demonstrations today will help build momentum for the conference and "send a clear signal to the world leaders meeting in Paris that the time is now to act and act boldly to reduce carbon emissions and to make serious, binding commitments to fight climate change,”