NEW YORK – The Communist Party USA joined with hundreds of other organizations Sept. 21 – labor, youth, peace, justice, clergy, political organizations and international groups – in the largest climate march ever. Some 400,000 marched here just prior to the UN summit this week, a gathering of more than 120 world leaders tasked with developing a planet-wide approach to drastic reduction of greenhouse gases
The lively and diverse CPUSA contingent, wearing bright red t-shirts picturing a small blue earth and the words “Too Big To Fail,” marched behind a colorful banner that read, “People and nature before profits” and “Green jobs, living wages.” There were younger, new members (many of whom were Young Communist League members) and veterans of many social and labor struggles marching – a compact version of the great global majority demanding protection of our environment. Party members came from Georgia, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, Washington State, New York State, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Ohio with a large presence from Connecticut.
The party’s table at 65th St. and Central Park West attracted attention almost immediately after it was set up early in the morning. As the hours passed people working the table gave out literature and engaged in extensive discussion with many who were interested in the party program.
People signed up to receive, by email, People’s World headlines. Among the most popular items were CPUSA peace stickers.
Party members made sure the November midterm elections were not forgotten by climate activists. They distributed thousands of Too Big To Fail post cards urging people to come out and vote for progressive candidates on November 4. “Hold the Senate and flip the House,” was the idea they tried to convey – keeping right-wing Republicans from gaining control of the Senate and ending their majority in the House.
“I’m walking in a march for climate change. I think it’s great, I hope it makes a difference. I think it’s good that a lot of young people are here, it’s important that they understand that this problem this world has is our problem and the struggle for life is ours to fight,” said one YCLer.
The march came at a time that environmental issues are taking center stage both internationally and locally.
As world leaders gather at the United Nations this week for the Climate Summit greenhouse gas emissions are increasing, California is in the middle of a drought emergency and 95 percent of Alaska’s glaciers are melting at an unnatural and unprecedented pace.
New York City officials took the opportunity to highlight steps to cut global warming emissions. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he is committing the city to an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050. In a city hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy, NY City Council is also addressing the issue. Donovan Richards Jr., co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, represents the council district in Far Rockaway Queens that was devastated by Hurricane Sandy. His caucus, now the majority, is a major voice for the city and champions the call to rebuild the city sustainably.
Marching with the contingent, John Bachtell, chair of the CPUSA, was exuberant about the huge People’s Climate March turnout and said given the nature of the crisis – not a moment too soon. “This movement has the potential to embrace the overwhelming majority of humanity,” he said, “crossing class, race, gender lines and national boundaries. Solutions to the climate crisis inevitably collide with the capitalist system and its inherent need for endless drive for maximum profit. The system’s existence is incompatible with a planet of finite resources and ecological balance.”
Photo: Earchiel Johnson/PW