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Global marches and events demand state and local leaders act on climate change

Editor’s Note: This transcript has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of May Boeve’s name.

Rallies and events focused on climate change across the globe on Saturday. In San Francisco, which will host a global summit on the issue next week, more than 300 organizations endorsed the “Rise for Climate, Jobs and Justice” march, which focused on the lack of progress at the federal level and called for more action at the state and local level. May Boeve, executive director of 350.org, the lead organization for the event, joins Hari Sreenivasan for more.

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  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    There were hundreds of coordinated marches and events today in more than 90 countries to demand action on the issue of climate change. Tens of thousands of people took part in the events. Time to call attention to both an international global climate action summit taking place next week in California and to the mid-term elections in November in the United States.

    There were more than 250 events planned. One of the largest was in San Francisco where organizers focused on what they see as a lack of progress on climate issues at the federal level and call for more action at the state and local levels. Joining us now from San Francisco via Skype is May Bouve, executive director of 350.org, the lead organization for today's events. What's the message that you're trying to get out there today?

  • MAY BOEVE:

    We need our elected officials to do more about climate change. This march is called 'Rise for Climate, Jobs and Justice' and there's a reason for that. There [are] 300 organizations who are putting this together — local community groups labor unions, environmental organizations. And we've seen dramatic impacts of climate change all year but we're not seeing dramatic leadership from our elected officials. This is one march of 800 taking place worldwide today. There have been tens of thousands of people in many cities around the world in more than 95 countries. So it's a global uprising to demonstrate that we really have the backing of a movement for the leadership that we need.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    And you're also not just talking about say, a sea level rise of the effect on polar bears. You're talking about lots of ripple effects of climate change is having on these different communities?

  • MAY BOEVE:

    Absolutely. For a long time people understood climate change is a far away problem affecting mostly wildlife. And I think the movement has really shifted to represent that this is a movement fundamentally about people. This is a movement about building political power. We're talking about a transition of our entire economy off of fossil fuels and to 100 percent renewable energy. This is going to take all of us and it's going to take a movement and movements are made of people. So that is how this has shifted and that's why you see the diversity, that's why you see the frontline communities who are most impacted leading a march today.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    How does that transition happen when it seems that leadership at least on the government level and federal level is pointed in the opposite direction. In some cases denying that climate change is happening or at least the steps that we need to do to mitigate it.

  • MAY BOEVE:

    We believe that changes by events like today's — over history we've seen how social movements make something that seems politically impossible to become politically inevitable. And so that's why we continue to mobilize. That's why so many people will take a day like today with their families and come and participate. Because we need people to understand that these are political decisions and we're building more pressure. In four days, leaders from around the world are going to be gathering here in San Francisco for the global climate action summit. We've seen a lot of summits with a lot of rhetoric and we are not seeing commensurate action. And particularly here in California, we celebrate our state for all that it has done. I'm a very proud Californian but we are still a major producer of oil in the state. So everybody, even our leaders, can do a lot more than they're doing.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    So what do you do to pressure California say, for example, to try to get off of fossil fuels and hurry this transition long?

  • MAY BOEVE:

    Well, for today, we demonstrate that a lot of people are concerned about this from a lot of sectors of society. And on other days, we call our legislators, on other days, we have coalition meetings and we bring more people into the movement. We protest, we do civil disobedience, we do giant artistic and creative actions that further help build the pressure. So it's a broad array of different things that are attempted. Today's a particular kind of day when we actually take to the streets and show a unified message. So that's why our demands are sharp and clear and marches like this help us put them forward very clearly.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Even if the federal government doesn't take the leadership role what are the opportunities for local governments or at least on a state or city level. What is actually accomplishable?

  • MAY BOEVE:

    I'm very glad you asked so recently in California, SB 100 was passed, which commits California to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. This is a fantastic example. There's a lot that can be done in the transit sector, in the agriculture sector, in the land and water use sectors.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    All right May Bouve executive director of 354 joining us via Skype from the streets of San Francisco. Thanks so much.

  • MAY BOEVE:

    Thank you.

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