People’s Climate Train crosses the country to bring marchers to NYC

People’s Climate Train crosses the country to bring marchers to NYC

As I hope you’ve heard by now, on September 21st the People’s Climate March is bringing together individuals and groups from all walks of life to demand climate action from the leaders assembling for the UN Climate Summit two days after the march.  From religion to health to social justice, this march is raising awareness of the impacts climate change is having on groups outside of the usual green circles of the most alarmed and concerned. This march will showcase solutions that not only tackle the climate crisis but which will meet our energy needs while promoting growth of high quality jobs across the United States.

The wide variety of groups coming together to march is a much-needed step forward. One of the biggest challenges facing climate communicators has been making the intangible, global, and gradual phenomenon of climate change relevant to local communities across all corners of this country and the world. That’s why it’s so uplifting to see that people have begun to realize that although we can’t yet feel all the coming climate impacts, we are aware it can hurt us. And it’s impacting individuals, families, businesses, communities, churches, nations and everything in between.

One particularly interesting partnership is the People’s Climate Train. A number of regional grassroots groups, the Center for Biological Diversity,, Sierra Club and Avaaz have built a coalition with Buddhist Global Relief and Global Exchange (groups focused on disaster relief and social justice) to book a whole train to take people from California to New York for the People’s Climate March. 

The People’s Climate Train departed from California on September 15, and has been making its way across the country; it will arrive in New York City on the 18th. This innovative and unique project represents the best of what the march is all about. Traditional green groups (CBD, Sierra) coming together with new-school green groups ( and Avaaz) and joining forces with religious relief groups and social justice campaigners (Buddhist Global Relief and Global Exchange) to declare that climate change affects us all and that we must all encourage urgent action from our leadership on this issue, as well as taking personal action to make our local communities cleaner and less polluted. On September 21st, the streets of New York will ring with the cry of: “to change everything, we need everyone!”

This is because climate change isn’t just an environmental issue, but a decidedly human issue. Groups like the human rights-focused Global Exchange are quickly realizing that global warming is a significant threat to the health and prosperity of all peoples.

With the understanding that not everyone has been immersed in the issue of climate, and knowing that a 4-day train ride is a mighty long time, the organizers had the bright idea to use the time on the train for some training courses. To make the most of their travel, they sought to empower riders with teach-ins, social mixers and movement-building workshops. By teaching these motivated marchers how to organize their own carbon tax initiatives for example, the train is a vehicle for learning as much as it is one for transport.

This is exactly the kind of interdisciplinary, knowledge-sharing spirit that’s needed to overcome the climate challenge. We’ve all heard about the need for a greater variety of voices, and this march has the potential to achieve such a cornucopia of diversity. The People’s Climate March will deliver a small but notably diverse slice of those voices. Together with the tens of thousands of others gathered in New York City, the climate train riders will sound the alarm on climate danger and raise the call for climate action on Sunday September 21st. Together we will raise a call so loud that it can’t help but penetrate the walls of the United Nations and reverberate through its halls from march day, through the UN Summit and beyond.


image via (cc) Altug Karakoc, flickr