Climate Week NYC 2023 reflects the strength of the movement, the inevitability of fossil-fuel phase-out
September 28, 2023
Stand.earth staff joined an exhilarating gathering of people from all over the world, united in their desire to envision and secure a safe planet and future at this year’s Climate Week NYC held from Sept. 17 – 24.
From youth and Indigenous activists leading the March to End Fossil Fuels to Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s impassioned call to be “too big, too radical to ignore,” there was a clear and consistent demand from the 75,000 people who marched on Sunday, Sept. 17 — end fossil fuels.
More than any previous event, this year’s Climate Week felt singularly focused on reigning in fossil fuels and naming that industry as the primary driver of climate change. We leave this month with more calls than ever before for governments to take meaningful action toward ending the era of fossil fuels — a demand reflected by the sea of banners at the march which called for President Biden to do just that.
Growing support for Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty
After seeing such clear and consistent demands surface at the march, a question remained about how this call to action resoundingly heard in the streets would translate to the halls and rooms with decision-makers and government officials. Would world leaders and big corporations commit to climate targets that actually have an impact on the planet?
While there is much work still ahead of us, Climate Week held many bright spots and offered encouraging signs of progress.
Two island nations highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, Antigua and Barbuda and Timor-Leste announced their endorsement of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty at the Global Citizen Festival on Saturday, Sept. 23. Antigua and Barbuda and Timor-Leste joins other numerous nations and states, including Tuvalu and California, that have previously endorsed the Treaty.
Stand’s team drives conversation toward a climate-safe future
Meanwhile, Stand’s team was on the ground advancing building-electrification policies, pushing for fossil-free fashion, and calling for the urgent protection of Amazonia.
SAFE Cities hosted an event Thursday, Sept. 21 with special guests including New York State Assembly Member Emily Gallagher and New York Communities for Change Senior Advisor Pete Sikora. The event celebrated the progress New York has made by passing the first state-level all-electric building policy in the U.S. and unveiled new research on the impact of building electrification.
Produced by Stand.earth Research Group, SAFE Cities, and Lead Locally, the report shows that passing policies requiring electrification on all new residential construction nationally would eliminate almost 140 million metric tons of carbon dioxide between 2023 and 2030. That’s the equivalent of stopping more than 156 billion pounds of coal from being burned or the equivalent of negating the emissions that 37.5 U.S. coal plants generate in a single year. What’s more, it projected that just 63 metropolitan areas will be responsible for more than half of projected emissions from new residential buildings between 2023 and 2030, highlighting the importance of local action.
Corporate Climate Campaigner Rachel Kitchin spoke on a panel Tuesday, Sept. 19 with Eco-Age on fashion’s pathway to decarbonizing and the role Stand’s trailblazing Fossil-Free Fashion Scorecard has played in setting a benchmark for the industry to reduce its emissions. Stand’s fashion campaign also hosted a virtual panel on decarbonizing fashion with panellists representing human rights, biodiversity and the climate movement to discuss the responsibility that brands have to take action to interrupt a status quo which continues to inflict dangerous harm on people and the planet.
Indigenous leaders led the conversations on the Amazonia for Life: Protect 80% by 2025 initiative to avert the loss of the Amazon rainforest and preserve the culture of the over 511 Indigenous communities that call Amazonia their home.
Fany Kuiru, the general coordinator of the Confederation of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA), spoke on multiple panels drawing the connection between the urgent need to protect Amazonia and the growing threat of oil and gas in the region. Kuiru urged banks financing oil and gas projects in Amazonia to stop their financing and adopt an Amazon exclusion policy.
Cause for hope
With youth and Indigenous Peoples from around the globe championing the call to end fossil fuels, Climate Week was an unflinching show of anger, despair, and the urgency of meaningful action needed to deal with climate change.
Alongside Climate Week, the UN General Assembly’s Climate Ambition Summit was taking place. There, world leaders spoke about the climate crisis like never before: the burning of fossil fuels is causing it, and companies profiting off oil, gas and coal at the expense of our collective future need to be held legally accountable.
At the end of an unbearably hot and deadly summer — where 98 percent of the world experienced climate change-related weather and where we saw the hottest month ever recorded on the planet — this acknowledgement is the bare minimum that we need to see from our elected leaders. But it’s a start. After all, admitting we have a problem is the first step to recovery.
As we hold our leaders accountable for turning empty words into meaningful action, our team at Stand is holding on to radical hope. We know that movements for change have won in the past, and we can win again. Even if that change takes longer than we want it to and there are heartbreaking losses along the way, it is still possible and worth it.