Washington: Thousands of environmental protesters blocked traffic in central Washington on Monday to demand action on climate change in the capital of one of the main emitters of greenhouse gases.
Small group of demonstrators gathered at key intersections in the city to “bring attention to everybody that this is not just Washington DC, this is the entire planet,” said protester Maryan Pollock.
The street protests came as world leaders gathered at the United Nations headquarters in New York for a special summit on climate change.
Just a few blocks from the White House, members of the Extinction Rebellion group towed a pink sailboat to block K Street, famous for its lobbying firms.
“The boat reminds us that (Washington) DC will be under water because of rising sea levels,” said Pollock.
Several activists chained themselves to the boat to prevent police from moving dispersing them, forcing officers to use buzz saws to cut them loose.
“We put pressure on politicians to wake up, that this is a real crisis, this is an emergency,” said Pollock, saying the demonstrators were “for those who don't have a voice in the US government, because we are the number one polluter on the planet.”
She called on people to eat less meat and dairy, use less plastic, ride bicycles and cut down on the use of fossil fuels. “Stop buying things on Amazon,” she said.
The online shopping giant Amazon built its market by using a network of delivery trucks, giving it a major carbon footprint. Ethan Rooney, 29, demanded massive investment in “green infrastructure... so that we can have renewable energy and a renewable grid and provide electricity to the planet, keep people fed, clothed without putting carbon in the air.”
Despite some tension between police and demonstrators, the protests remained peaceful.
“It's long overdue,” said Kathy Gardner, who had stopped to watch the protest with a coffee cup in her hand.
“I'm a child of the 70s, I think you have to protest to get your voice heard. I am a science person so I understand the need to save the planet, we can't ignore it.”
Meanwhile, a visibly angry Greta Thunberg berated world leaders as she addressed a UN climate summit on Monday, accusing them of betraying her generation by failing to tackle greenhouse gas emissions and asking “How dare you?”
The Swedish teen, who has become the global face of the growing youth movement against climate inaction, began by telling her audience: “My message is that we'll be watching you,” eliciting laughter.
But it was soon clear that the tone of the message would be very serious.
“This is all wrong. I shouldn't be up here. I should be back at school on the other side of the ocean,” the 16-year-old, who is taking a year off from her studies, said.
“You come to us young people for hope. How dare you?” she thundered.
“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words, yet I'm one of the lucky ones,” she said....