Tens of thousands of protesters rallied this past Sunday in Washington DC, USA, to demand action on climate change. Organizers estimated that around 40,000 people took part in the demonstration, making it the largest climate rally in US history. The rally, intended as a show of force and unity for the environmental movement in the US, called on President Obama to move â€œForward on Climateâ€ and to stop the Keystone pipeline project.
â€œFor 25 years our government has basically ignored the climate crisis: now people in large numbers are finally demanding they get to work. We shouldn't have to be here - science should have decided our course long ago. But it takes a movement to stand up to all that money,â€ said 350.org founder Bill McKibben in a speech.
Protests from environmentalists against the Keystone pipeline, and Obamaâ€™s inaction on the matter, project have been going on for over two years now. The Keystone XL pipeline will transport dirty crude oil from the tar sands fields of western Canada down through the Midwestern region of the US, often dubbed the breadbasket of America, and then processed and shipped overseas through the Gulf of Mexico. The production of tar sands crude releases two or three times as much carbon pollution as conventional produced crude oil. So if completed, the project would be a disaster for our climate. James Hansen, one of the worldâ€™s most prominent climate scientists, has said that if the Canadian tar sands would be exploited as projected it would be â€œgame over for the climateâ€. So this fight is indeed worth fighting for.
â€œTwenty years from now on Presidentâ€™s Day, people will want to know what the president did in the face of rising sea levels, record droughts and furious storms brought on by climate disruption,â€ said Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. â€œPresident Obama holds in his hand a pen and the power to deliver on his promise of hope for our children. Today, we are asking him to use that pen to to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, and ensure that this dirty, dangerous, export pipeline will never be built.â€
The rally - which was organized by 350.org, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and many other organizations â€“ also called on Obama to use his powers under the Clean Air Act to cut the amount of dangerous carbon pollution emitted from dirty power plants in the country.
â€œThis President has the power to achieve the single biggest carbon reduction ever, by holding our biggest carbon polluters â€“ dirty power plants â€“ accountable for what they dump into the air, said Van Jones, NRDC Trustee and President Rebuild the Dream. â€œCleaning up this pollution and using more clean energy will provide jobs to thousands of Americans, save families real money when it comes to electricity bills and, most important, will make a real difference in our health and the health of our childrenâ€, Jones said.