By Mike Leventhal
More than 400,000 people turned out for the People’s Climate March in New York City on Sunday, just one day before many of the world’s leaders arrive to debate environmental action at the United Nations climate summit and at the Clinton Global Initiative.
Event organizers are hailing the turnout as the largest climate march in history, far bigger than the Forward on Climate rally held in Washington, D.C., last year. High-profile environmentalists including Bill McKibben, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jane Goodall and Vandana Shiva marched alongside policymakers such as Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and former Vice President Al Gore were also there, and more than 550 buses carried in people from around the country.
The rally comes at an important time as 120 world leaders, including President Barack Obama, will convene Tuesday at the United Nations in New York to discuss ways to tackle the growing threat of carbon pollution.
The White House has pledged to “show the world that the U.S. is leading on climate change, and to call on other leaders to step up to the plate,” John Podesta, who serves as a counselor to the president, told reporters on Thursday. However, a recent study found that the world spewed more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere last year than ever before, primarily driven by China, India and the United States. And the top leaders of China and India announced earlier this month that they won’t be attending Tuesday’s summit.
The march began midday at New York City’s Columbus Circle just off Central Park. At times, it stretched more than 4 miles as marchers carried banners, signs and entire contraptions depicting everything from Mother Earth herself to the dinosaurs that now make up fossil fuels.