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What is being billed as the biggest climate march in history will hit the streets of New York City on Sept. 21, with an expected 100,000 demonstrators on hand to greet the world leaders converging on the city for United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Climate Summit. Among those marching will be Ban, according to U.N. officials.

“The secretary-general will stand on the right side of the people on this key issue for our common future,” Selwin Hart, director of the secretary-general’s climate change support team, said at a press conference Tuesday.

While the People’s Climate March will be marked with the usual banging of drums, chanting, and blowing of vuvuzelas, the organizers of the demonstration and its sponsors are anything but typical.

The Climate Group, the nonprofit behind the march, is working with labor unions and corporations such as Dell, Ikea, Hewlett-Packard, News Corp, and Bloomberg to promote what it calls a “clean revolution.” More than 1,400 environmental and community groups are supporting the demonstration. Marches are also being held in other cities around the world in what the organizers call “a weekend to bend the course of history.”

“We want to send a message to world leaders that it’s time for action, not words,” said Jamie Henn, People’s Climate March spokesperson. “People around the world are taking to the streets to show that we’re ready for clean energy, healthier communities, and a planet safe from climate change.”

Unlike past U.N. climate change negotiations, the Climate Summit is aimed at action by business, political, and community leaders, not just talk among governments.

“[Ban] has asked these leaders to bring bold announcements and actions to the summit that will reduce emissions, strengthen climate resilience, and mobilize political will,” the U.N. said in a statement.

The hope is to create momentum for a binding international agreement on reducing global greenhouse gas emissions in the run-up to the U.N.’s climate change negotiations in Paris next year.

For social justice organizer Tomás Garduño, the march is an opportunity to get labor unions and community organizations involved and help change the perception about who really cares about the environment.

“Poor people and people of color are particularly affected by climate change,” said Garduño, the political director of ALIGN: Alliance for a Greater New York, a nonprofit community group. “We care about our health, our homes, and we need good jobs that don’t expose us to dangerous chemicals. That’s climate justice.”

Here’s what to expect at the march:

What’s planned?

  • The march begins at 11:30 a.m. ET at 86th Street and Central Park West and ends at 11th Avenue and 34th Street.
  • At 12:58 p.m. ET, two minutes of silence will occur to honor people whose lives are being affected by climate change.
  • At 1 p.m. ET, the “climate alarm” will be sounded with trumpets, marching bands, vuvuzelas, drums, and tens of thousands of voices.

Who’s coming?

  • More than 100,000 people are expected, including more than 30 celebrities who have signed on to support the march, actor Edward Norton, Prince Albert II of Monaco, and Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi among them.

Other Climate Marches Around the World


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