Groups take climate fight to Oil Barons doorstep
People’s Climate Movement confronts American Petroleum Institute during National Day of Action
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today members of student, labor, justice, faith, and environmental groups participated in a ‘die-in’ and street theatre outside the American Petroleum Institute to lend urgency to the fight for a clean energy economy. Citizens assembled in front of API headquarters to show API employees the human cost of Big Oil’s corporate influence over key global agreements on climate and the economy such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and this December’s Paris Climate Summit.
This event, in coordination with a 175-plus-city National Day of Action on Climate in over 40 states, built on the momentum of the New York People’s Climate March that drew 400,000 students, union members, people of faith, moms, immigrants, and environmentalists to demand bold and urgent action on climate change. After the protest, participants joined together with artists and musicians at Freedom Plaza to celebrate the voices and successes of local activists and the leaders who champion worker rights and environmental justice.
Active groups included: 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East – Maryland/DC Division, Interfaith Power & Light (DC.MD.NoVA), We are CASA, Moms Clean Air Force, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Energy Action Coalition, SustainUS, Fossil Free AU, 350 DC, Friends of the Earth, Sierra Club, Greenpeace, and more.
Representatives of the event made the following comments:
“Climate change public health impacts fall disproportionately on Maryland’s communities of color and poorest communities—where you live shouldn’t determine if you live,” said Lisa Brown, executive vice president of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East –Maryland/DC. “Dirty air adds stress to heart and lungs and can lead to asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and health complications. We call on our leaders in the global trade and international climate negotiations to solve this public health crisis with cleaner air while creating good paying clean energy jobs.”
Anthony Torres, campus organizer with Fossil Free AU and COP21 youth delegate for SustainUS, said “This isn’t just about carbon, it’s about justice. Institutions, like API, have profited off the destruction of ecosystems and communities across the world. We must divest from fossil fuels, transform our economies and our politics, and stand together on the streets to fight for a more just, inclusive, and sustainable future.”
“Our religious traditions call us to take responsibility for the impact our choices are having on our neighbors,” says Joelle Novey, director of Interfaith Power & Light (DC.MD.NoVA), which engages hundreds of congregations across the region in climate action. “We’re speaking out on October 14th against those who are obscuring and ignoring the voices of those already suffering in our disrupted climate. This is an obscene injustice, and we cannot stand idly by.”
“Moms want to see urgent nationwide efforts toward a clean energy economy, and equally urgent deliberations at the Paris Climate Summit. We need a no-holds-barred effort to assure a safe and healthy climate for our children — for everyone’s children,” said Julie Hantman, DC Field Organizer for Moms Clean Air Force.
“As the oldest grassroots climate advocacy group laser-focused on clean energy solutions for DC, Maryland, and Virginia, we know how critical it is to take our voices to the streets and hold our elected officials accountable,” said Shilpa Joshi of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “We will get loud today and for years to come to fight fossil fuel corporate interests to ensure accessible clean energy for all.”
Stan Boyd of the Sierra Club, Maryland Chapter, said “Big Oil, represented by the American Petroleum Institute, and other big polluters are destroying our planet, contributing up climate change, and influencing trade deals to help pad their own pockets. We should embrace clean energy like wind and solar that can create millions of American jobs and bring about climate justice.”
Lydia Avila, executive director of Energy Action Coalition, said “Last year, 50,000 young people participated in the Youth & Student Contingent of the People’s Climate March — the largest student and youth bloc in history. This year, even more students and youth across the country are mobilizing in their communities to show that they will not stand by quietly as decision makers ignore the crisis of our lifetime. Students and youth stand to bear the brunt of the climate crisis and demand bold action on climate change from our leaders.”
Jenny Bock, economic justice campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said “Oil Barons like American Petroleum Institute spend millions to stall the progress of renewable energy, suppress climate justice and force everyday citizens to pay the price of their crimes. It’s time for our political leaders to kick harmful corporate polluters out of global trade and our international climate negotiations.”