The Northern California Climate Mobilization started with a gathering at 10:30 am at Lake Merritt Amphitheatre in Oakland, followed by a march at noon to Oscar Grant Plaza at 14th St. and Broadway.
The march was led by indigenous leaders holding a colorful array of signs proclaiming, “Defend the Earth,” Leave It In The Ground,” “Despierta – Awake,” “Idle No More” and other slogans.
The marchers included Bay Area frontline communities at risk from threats that include highly toxic and lethally volatile “bomb trains” carrying fracked crude and dirty tar sands to the 5 Bay Area refineries, and dirty coal shipped through the Ports of Oakland and Richmond. Marchers came in buses from Sacramento, Sonoma County and other areas.
The march was followed by a rally at Oscar Grant Plaza around 1 pm. Performers included Calpulli Hue Papalotl, Samba Funk!, The Black Sheroes, Leave It to Diva, and Vukani Muwethu.
Speakers from diverse groups spoke, including those in communities most impacted by industrial pollution by big oil and gas corporations.
“I have lived my life in the shadow of Chevron Richmond,” says NCCM Spokesperson Andrés Soto of Communities for a Better Environment. “My community has suffered for generations, more than others, the disastrous effects of industrial pollution. As our part of a global strategy, we have been working to improve our community's health and economy so that we are not dependent on the fossil fuel economy. Richmond is elated to lend our voice to the choir demanding an end to the fossil fuel economy and investing in renewable energy to save the planet for future generations.”
Umari, an indigenous leader from the Ecuadorian Amazon said, “We as indigenous people are waking up and what we need to do is wake up our governments. We in the rainforest use the energy of the sun and moon to cultivate our crops. We must make the government change their policies to protect the earth.”
Margaret Gordon of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, a registered nurse, said. “We see the effects of climate change with the increased admission of asthma patients. The climate change chain has caused superstorms across the globe. Standing up for health justice is also standing up for climate justice.”
"People’s lives are already drastically affected by climate change here in the Bay Area and around the world,” says NCCM Spokesperson Claire Tacherra-Morrison of UC Berkeley’s Fossil Free Cal, “and as university students, we have the opportunity to use our privilege to demand change. We feel the urgency of addressing climate change because it is not optional for us. In order for our futures to be livable, we need to act on this issue. Students are working to end the UC system's investment in fossil fuel companies because this toxic industry is destroying the future we are being educated for."
“The climate crisis affects more than California -- it affects our nation and the world's many poor and working families who are now being disproportionately affected,” said Josie Camacho, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Alameda Labor Council. “Unions must join with community and environmental activists to stop a world catastrophe. The actions we take today will determine the world our children and grandchildren will live in tomorrow.”
Noted Bay Area poet Rafael Jesús González writes, “Nothing we do, however beautiful and important, is worth much unless we are willing to protect and nurture life itself, and never has there been so grave a crisis for preserving life. It is urgent that we all raise our voices in unison.”
“I’m marching because climate change connects us all -- and because California is increasingly being ravaged by its impacts!” summed up May Boeve, Executive Director of 350.org.
Other speakers included Mark Hertsgaard (independent journalist and author); Tim Paulson (Alameda & San Francisco Labor Councils); and Ambrose Carroll (Interfaith Power & Light) .
A news release from the organizers explained the reasons for the march:
“At the COP, 190 countries will negotiate agreements to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses to limit the global temperature increase, and for developed nations to provide assistance to developing nations in coping with disruptive effects of climate change.
Northern Californians, like millions of people worldwide, are mobilizing to confront the crises of climate change. Collectively these voices are saying that anything less than a binding, just agreement that lowers emissions in a way that matches the requirements that scientists have laid out is unacceptable. Time's up. From Oakland to Paris: global climate change demands global solidarity and immediate action,” according to a press release.
Climate action includes reducing emissions by transitioning to clean, renewable energy, using energy more efficiently, and effectively addressing climate justice: the poor must not be the most impacted by a crisis for which they are the least responsible.
Northern California is already suffering from multiple impacts of climate change, including a years-long drought, extensive wildfires, unpredictable flash floods, and more extreme weather events. The people of Northern California have long been innovators and early adopters of new technology and social change. As author of ‘This Changes Everything’ Naomi Klein has stated: ‘We can reinvent a different future.’
A roster of partners, sponsors, and endorsers of the Northern California Climate Mobilization -- including organizations and individuals -- is available athttp://www.norcalclimatemob.net.