What organizers say will be a major "climate action" is set for Friday afternoon on the Walkway Over the Hudson.
Organizers are hoping the event on the old Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge will attract hundreds. The goal: raise consciousness about climate change and call upon elected officials to work on reversing it.
The action is being held in solidarity with the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which will be in Paris from November 30th to December 11th. Ann Guenther co-chairs the New Paltz Climate Action Coalition: "We need to be part of that action. We're in a very active region. The mid-Hudson Valley is full of people who are working on various causes, especially environmental ones. So we feel if we can get hundreds of people on our walkway, we're calling it 'the Walkway to Paris,' which is where the delegates will be meeting, that this will send a message and a powerful one to the delegates, that they have our support."
Guenther adds, it's easy to join the movement: just show up on the Walkway Friday at 1 o'clock. "We also have some very interesting people who will be having informal conversations along the bridge about why they're there: scientists, gardeners, whoever has something to say and cares about the effects of climate change will be there. And we have a wonderful display of all 194 United Nations flags. They are beautiful and will be displayed all along the walkway."
According to the organizing committee, the objective of the Paris conference is to achieve, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, a binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world.
Brian O'Bach is a professor of sociology and director of the environmental studies program at SUNY New Paltz. "The meetings in Paris may be our last real hope of reversing course on climate change. It's imperative that we raise our voices and demand that world leaders address this crisis. This is a real opportunity for people in the Hudson Valley to raise their voices and to make sure that our leaders address this issue."
Participants will be encouraged to urge President Obama, the U.S. delegation, and world leaders heading to Paris to commit to reducing carbon emissions. Demands include commitments to keep 80 percent of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground and transitioning to 100 percent renewables by 2050.
Wes Gillingham, co-founder and program director of Catskill Mountainkeeper, is one of many scheduled speakers at the event. He says the people of New York are dealing with an onslaught of oil and gas industry projects that are helping derail the climate. "We've dealt with extreme weather events over the last two years. We need to make some drastic change and that's what this is about. There was over 150 actions and rallies like this all across the country, and the community of New York and the Hudson Valley are putting in our two cents here."
"Walkway To Paris" happens Friday, October 23rd, 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Press conference at the Walkway’s middle “bump-out” from 3 p.m- 4 p.m. Speeches and performances follow.
Buses will be available on the SUNY New Paltz and Bard campuses to shuttle participants to the Walkway.
Organizers: New Paltz Climate Action Coalition. Co-sponsors include Riverkeeper, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Clearwater, Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipelines, Citizens for Local Power, Protect Orange County, Protecting Our Waters, Scenic Hudson, many more.
Featured speakers and performers:
- Victorio Roland Vargas Mousaa, representing First Nations perspectives on climate. Roland performed the original opening ceremony of the Walkway with Pete Seeger. Roland, who began working with Clearwater in 1969, will open our program at 4 p.m. He will perform with his partner, Mindy Fradkin (aka Princes Wow), the last song Pete Seeger wrote with him, “Now Is The Time.”
- Jen Metzger, Councilwoman, Rosendale and Co-Director, Citizens for Local Power.
- Jeffrey Freedman, climate scientist, Atmospheric Sciences Research Center, SUNY Albany.
- Wes Gillingham, Co-Founder and Program Director, Catskill Mountainkeeper.
- Pramilla Malick, a community organizer and mother of 4 from Orange County leading fights against fracked-gas infrastructure in New York State. Pramilla represents Stop The Minisink Compressor Station and Protect Orange County.
- Ted Hall III, an educator, researcher, urban farmer, is an alumni of Harvard, Carnegie Mellon, and Bard College, where he co-initiated Sustainability commitments and curricula. Ted also organized key groups of the Occupy Movement.
- Jeremy Cherson of Riverkeeper will speak at Center Stage and will represent the Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipelines from along the Walkway. Representatives from Clearwater Environmental programs will also speak.