Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tells climate marchers to be ‘too big and too radical to ignore’ – as it happened

18 09 2023 | 19:36Maya Yang / THE GUARDIAN

Demonstration falls days before the United Nations climate ambition summit, at which Joe Biden is expected to be a no-show


Tens of thousands march in New York City to protest fossil fuels

Dharna Noor

Tens of thousands of people in New York City have kicked off a week of demonstrations seeking to end the use of coal, oil and natural gas blamed for climate change.

“This is an incredible moment,” said Jean Su of Center for Biological Diversity, who helped organize the mobilization.

Tens of thousands of people are marching in the streets of New York because they want climate action, and they understand Biden’s expansion of fossil fuels is squandering our last chance to avoid climate catastrophe.

Su said the action was the largest climate protest in the US since the start of the pandemic, with organizers estimating around 75,000 protestors taking to the streets in New York City.

She added:

This also shows the tremendous grit and fight of the people, especially youth and communities living at the frontlines of fossil fuel violence, to fight back and demand change for the future they have every right to lead.

In addition to celebrities and lawmakers, kids from across the country as well as elderly people showed up at the protests, waving climate signs and chanting alongside event organizers.

New York’s Democratic representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who previously championed the Green New Deal alongside Senator Bernie Sanders, is also expected to address the crowd later this afternoon.

Sunday’s demonstration comes ahead of the the United Nations Climate Ambition Summit, which the UN secretary general, António Guterres, says will focus on on bold new climate pledges.

AOC addresses crowd of climate activists in New York City 'We must be too big and too radical to ignore'

The crowd cried out in cheers for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who thanked them for showing up and highlighting the urgency of the climate crisis.

“This issue is the issue, one of the most important issues of our time,” she said, adding: “We must be too big and too radical to ignore.”

Climate action requires a democratic restructuring of the economy, she said.

“What we’re not gonna do is go from oil barons to solar barons,” she told the crowd.


V, the author of The Vagina Monologues formerly known as Eve Ensler, announced that she is working on a musical about the climate crisis.

She and three cast members previewed a song from the show called Panic. “We want you to panic / We want you to act / You stole our future / And we want it, we want it back.”


“Don’t let the cynics win. The cynics want us to think that this isn’t worth it. The cynics want us to believe that we can’t win. The cynics want us to believe that organizing doesn’t matter, that our political system doesn’t matter, that our economy doesn’t matter,” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told a crowd of cheering protestors.

“We’re here to say that we organize out of hope, we organize out of commitment, we organize out of love, we organize out of the beauty of our future. We will not give up! We will not let go! We will not allow cynicism to to prevail! We will not allow our vision of a collaborative economy, of dignity for working people, of honoring the Black, brown, Indigenous, white working class! We will not give up and that is what we are here to do today!” she added.

“The United States continues to be approving record number of fossil fuel leases and we must send a message, right here today – that has got to end!”

Earlier this month, AOC spoke to the Guardian and said that “there’s a very real danger here,” in reference to the presidential 2024 elections and the climate crisis.


World leaders have ‘forgotten’ responsibility to Mother Earth

Veteran Indigenous organizer Tom Goldtooth, who is executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, attended the march. “I’m here at the request of spiritual authorities within our Indigenous network,” he said.

“They said that this United Nations secretary general’s summit on climate ambition has no spiritual soul to it – that the world leaders have forgotten what the responsibility is to understand the sacredness of Mother Earth.”

He decried world leaders’ focus on technological solutions like geoengineering, as well as carbon offset markets, which studies show often do not result in lowered emissions.

“We’re here to renew not only our relationship but humanity’s relationship to building sustainable communities based upon regenerative economy, living economy, not a fossil fuel economy,” he said.


Aliya Uteuova

“The fight for the planet is not a personal issue, it’s a collective issue,” said Grant Miner, a graduate student representing the labor contingent with the Student Workers of Columbia University. “The economy that we have now is structured around killing the planet for profit.”

“We’re asking Biden to divest fossil fuels,” said Sincere Cheong, who marched alongside thousands of other people. “The world is being destroyed and if we don’t cut back right now we won’t be able to limit the global warming to 1.5 degrees.”

In its citations for its climate journalists of the year, Covering Climate Now said:

  • Manka Behl of the Times of India was praised by judges for reports “from the frontlines of the crisis in one of the world’s most climate-important countries” and for her interviews with leaders.

  • Damian Carrington of the Guardian was credited for science-based reporting that “explains that politics and corporate power, not a lack of green technologies, are what block climate progress”, and cited for leading a reporting team on investigating “carbon bombs” and super-emitting methane leaks.

  • Amy Westervelt was described as a prolific, multiplatform reporter for Critical Frequency whose work exposes how fossil fuel companies continue to mislead the public and policymakers alike.

“Every news outlet on earth can learn from the engaged, hard-hitting journalism that Manka, Damian and Amy bring to the climate story,” said Mark Hertsgaard, the executive director of Covering Climate Now. “It’s reporting like this that arms the public with the power that knowledge gives.”

The awards also recognized six Special Honors winners for “rigorous investigative reports, eye-opening exposes of climate injustice, and much-needed analyses of climate solutions”:


Photo: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images - Thousands of activists marched in New York City on Sunday for the march to end fossil fuels.