By: Rebecca A. Buckley-Stein
Climate change remains an urgent international issue. Preventative action is necessary as more communities and countries suffer the negative effects of increased global temperatures and depletion of necessary resources. Further, climate change’s disparate impact on low income and indigenous communities raises issues of social justice, prejudice, and equality. Despite increased concern, the United Nations has struggled to enforce international treaties targeted at climate change. [i]
In anticipation of the UN’s 2014 Climate Summit, environmental and social justice activists organized massive political action. This global strategic activism urged the United Nations to decisively act against climate change.[ii]
On September 21st the People’s Climate March hosted 2,646 events in 162 countries.[iii] The largest march happened in New York City with approximately 400,000 people.[iv] Because the People’s Climate March occurred during the United Nations 2014 Climate Summit it attracted several powerful leaders including Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations, who walked alongside protesters in the march.[v]
The People’s Climate March urged the United Nations, and the United States, to deal with climate change by holding corporate and government actors accountable for the degradation of the environment.[vi] However, the People’s Climate March did not publish a unified mission statement.[vii] Instead each of the 1,574 organizations participating in the event pushed their individual platform.
The following day, an off-shoot of the People’s Climate March – Flood Wall Street – engaged in non-violent protest in an attempt to highlight the connection between exploitive economic systems and the degradation of the natural environment.[viii] Flood Wall Street was a smaller event with approximately 1,000 people.[ix] Despite the small size, Flood Wall Street’s message was clear; “confront the root cause of the climate crisis – an economic system based on exploiting frontline communities, workers and natural resources.”[x] 102 people were arrested at the Flood Wall Street protest. Notably, New York City police arrested a man dressed as a polar bear.[xi]
Rebecca A. Buckley-Stein is a 3L at The Pennsylvania State University–The Dickinson School of Law, and a Senior Editor on the Journal of Law and International Affairs.
[i]See generally, Erik B. Bluemel, Responses to Global Warming: The Law, Economics, and Science of Climate Change: Symposium Scholar: Unraveling the Global Warming Regime Complex: Competitive Entropy in the Regulation of the Global Public Good, 155 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1981 (2007); Bruce Yandle, Stuart Buck, Bootleggers, Baptists, and the Global Warming Battle, 26 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 177, 180 (2002) “[…] various nations and corporations have tried to influence Kyoto’s terms to serve their own parochial interests at the expense of the public good.”
[ii] UN Climate Summit 2014, No “Plan B” for climate action as there is no “Planet B” says UN Chief, http://www.un.org/climatechange/summit/2014/09/plan-b-climate-action-planet-b-says-un-chief/ (last visited Nov. 14, 2014).
[v] Supra Note 2.
[vi] A main slogan for the People’s Climate March was “People, Plant, and Peace Over Profit” coined by the Green Party Presidential Candidate, Dr. Jill Stein. See, Dr. Jill Stein and Ben Manski, The Global Climate Stike: Why We Can’t Wait , available at http://globalclimateconvergence.org/2014/09/popular-resistance-global-climate-strike-cant-wait-september-24-2014/
[viii] Flood Wall Street, http://floodwallstreet.net/
[ix] NY Daily News, 102 people arrested or summoned in Flood Wall Street Protest in Lower Manhattan, http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/flood-wall-street-highlights-climate-crisis-article-1.1948574 (last visited Nov. 14, 2014).
[x] Supra Note 8.
[xi] Supra Note 9.