Seattle joins People’s Climate March in call for global action

Marchers move down Madison St. during the Seattle People's Climate March on Wednesday. (Photo by Alex Garland)
Marchers move down Madison St. during the Seattle People’s Climate March on Wednesday. (Photo by Alex Garland)

Seattle was just one of 170 communities to join the nationwide People’s Climate March Wednesday. More than a thousand people joined a rally at City Hall and marched throughout downtown.

Organizations from around Washington joined the march in hopes of influencing decision making at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris next month.

“Climate affects everybody,” read one marcher’s sign, and many of the groups marching emphasized the international dimension of climate change.

One America, a nonprofit that focuses on empowering immigrant and refugee communities, helped organize the Seattle march and turned out in force.

“We are going to be there representing the communities who are on the front lines of climate change,” said One America communications manager Pavan Vangipuram before the march. “We will bring members of the immigrant community in the Yakima valley who were heavily impacted by the droughts and wildfires this year.”

Other local groups like Got Green emphasized that poor people around the world will be some of the first to be impacted by climate change, and that economic variations in vulnerability to climate change exists right here in the Northwest.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was also a key issue for marchers, with many signs criticizing the pending free trade agreement between 12 Pacific Rim countries, including the U.S.

“This wouldn’t be an issue if our trade policy did as much for workers and the environment as they do for business,” said a volunteer with Washington Fair Trade Coalition. “That’s what we’re looking for.”

The Sierra Club was another group present at the rally. One issue on their agenda is ending coal exports passing through local ports, and thus stopping the export of U.S. pollutants to other countries.

“We are focusing our work on global to local,” said Sierra Club lead organizer Robin Everett, “we are going to take strategies to Paris of what we are doing locally, to affect global efforts.”

Everett says that members of the Sierra Club plan to be in Paris during the U.N.’s climate change summit, both protesting outside and negotiating on the floor.

This goal of the Paris summit is to achieve a legally binding global agreement on controlling climate change. But with a lot of powerful interests coming to the table, it won’t be easy.

The march on Wednesday was a chance for people here Seattle and around the country to show unified support for real, substantive climate reform heading into those talks.