Thousands join in at the 2017 People’s Climate March in San Diego

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By Mark Hughes

The local version of the People’s Climate March took place last Saturday at the Waterfront Park, 1600 Pacific Highway. At the 2014 Climate March, around 1,400 people attended. Organizers of this year’s march hoped for 3,000 or so attendees – but those expectations were well exceeded, as the police estimated the crowd at over 5,000.

By Mark Hughes

The local version of the People’s Climate March took place last Saturday at the Waterfront Park, 1600 Pacific Highway. At the 2014 Climate March, around 1,400 people attended. Organizers of this year’s march hoped for 3,000 or so attendees – but those expectations were well exceeded, as the police estimated the crowd at over 5,000.

The march roughly coincided with the current administration’s first 100 days in office, though planning for the march started well before last year’s presidential elections. Organizers said that regardless of which party has been in power, progress on addressing climate change has been far too slow and erratic. Now, of course, because of the new administration’s stance, progress on the issue is threatened more than ever.

The march’s slogan was “Healthy people, Healthy communities, Healthy Earth”. The event began with music provided by the Peace and Freedom Chorus. California State Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, professor Jeffery Severinghaus from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, professor Jim Miller of San Diego City College, and Willow Lark, an environment-engineering student at SDSU, gave speeches. All spoke on variations of the theme of fighting climate injustice and affirming everyone’s right to access clean air, clean water and healthy food; convenient, affordable public transportation and housing; justice and equality for all; and a living wage.

The march itself took a loop route, going east on Ash, south along Pacific Highway, west and Broadway, and then north back to the Waterfront Park. Following the marcher’s return, speeches were given by Rev. J. Lee Hill, Jr., Community Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Dan Sullivan, president of Sullivan Solar Power, and Esperanza Miranda, City Heights community member and Environmental Justice Promotora with Environmental Health Coalition.

These speakers called for specific actions, such as asking Mayor Faulconer to start a Community Choice Energy program to help achieve San Diego’s commitment to 100% clean energy and to create local green jobs. They asked attendees to pressure state legislators to restructure SANDAG in order to enable reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation (AB 805). The final request was to call Senator Dianne Feinstein and urge her to oppose Trump’s efforts to defund the EPA and instead support full funding for the EPA and its efforts to address climate change.

The march ended with a Native American dance ceremony, put on by Grupo Quetzalhuitzilin de San Diego.

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