IC activists raise awareness about climate change


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More than 125 climate-change activists marched on the streets of Iowa City Sunday, demanding that local leaders take action to fight the perceived effects of climate change.

The march was in support of the much larger People’s Climate March in New York City, which also took place on Sunday and had tens of thousands of people in attendance, according to the Associated Press.

The People’s Climate March happened a few days before the U.N. Climate Summit, which will be held on Tuesday.

In Iowa City, various activist groups, including the Iowa City Climate Advocates, 100 Grannies, and the Iowa chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, organized and participated in the local event.

Maureen McCue, a coordinator from Physicians for Social Responsibility in Iowa City, said the protesters marching in New York were doing so to tell “world leaders it’s time to step and take real action.”

“And what we know [is] that while it’s important that world leaders, national leaders create the environment and the policies that will help to halt climate change, it can be done also at very local levels,” she said. “Cities can do things, universities can do things, counties can do things, states can do things, we can all do things at all levels.”

On Tuesday, the U.N. Climate Summit will be held at the U.N. headquarters, with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hosting.

“… We’re taking action, and we expect them to as well,” said Whit Jones, campaign director for the Energy and Action Coalition, a non profit group composed of more than 30 youth-oriented environmental groups across the nation.

The organizers of the People’s Climate March wanted the event to catch the attention of the world leaders attending the Climate Summit.

Jones said the main march in New York City was a collaboration of more than 1,500 endorsing organizations, from environmental groups to labor unions.

“The People’s Climate March is going to demonstrate that hundreds of thousands of people care about this issue of climate change and that we’re not waiting to take action,” Jones said.

In Iowa City, marchers met on the Pedestrian Mall, in front of the office of Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa.

Some people marching were carrying signs with phrases on them that read, “There is no planet B” or “Fund solutions, not pollution.” Another person was handing out slips of paper with lyrics written on them.

When the lyrics were all passed out, a guitar player led the marchers in song, singing of how “we need to build a better future, and we need to start right now.”

Afterwards, one of the organizers stood on a bench on the Ped Mall with a megaphone, to call on Loebsack, D-Iowa, to continue his commitment to the climate and the environment.

A marcher then hammered a sign into the ground in front of Loebsack’s office, with a list of demands for him.

“This is not something that he can put down at the bottom of his list, but has to be way at the top of his list and at the top of everybody’s list right now,” said Barbara Schlachter, a member of the leadership team of the Iowa City Climate Advocates.

The group marched to the Johnson County Administration Offices and Jessup Hall, where University of Iowa President Sally Mason’s office is located. They continued to City Hall, then headed back to the Pedestrian Mall.

As they crossed from street to street, people held up signs in front of the cars at the stoplights that read “This corporate capitalism is killing our planet,” while others held up flags with a picture of the planet Earth on it.

“We may not be in New York, but we’re going to count,” Schlacter said.

AP contributed to this story.

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