“Here in Austin, Texas, we know that climate change is real,” Those were the words of Austin Mayor Steve Adler as he spoke at the Austin People’s Climate March late last month. The event was part of a series of marches being held across the country to demand action on climate change, as well as to express solidarity in advancing the rights of women, immigrants, indigenous peoples, workers, and people of color.
Adler spent much of his speech acknowledging the state of environmental policy in this country and the fear that many people have over the future of climate change action in the US. “I don’t know about you,” Adler said, “but I have a lot of friends that either can’t turn off the tv, or can’t turn it on.”
But overall, Adler’s message was one of optimism and action.
“While these treaties look national in scope, most of the climate change work that even those national treaties envision was work that was done by cities. No matter what happens in D.C., or in this building [he said as he pointed at the Texas Capitol building], Austin will continue to lead. The entire state can lose its mind, and we will still be Austin, Texas. The country can lose its mind and we will still be Austin, Texas.”
He backed up his confidence with a long list of actions Austin has already taken to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, including:
- Creating the Austin Community Climate Plan, which sets the city on a path toward zero community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, at the latest
- Recent solar purchases by Austin Energy, that make Austin responsible for nearly 40 percent of all the utility-scale solar installed throughout the entire state of Texas
- Austin’s ambitious renewable energy portfolio. Austin is on track to get 55 percent of our energy from wind and solar by 2025.
Another one of the main focuses of the march was environmental justice. Local environmental activist Brittany Foley spoke about the importance of making the environmental and climate change movements as diverse and inclusive as possible. “None of your groups are going to be successful unless you are diverse,” Foley said, “unless you have people from all walks of life, every single part of town, no matter race, gender, or religion, with you.”
Foley also stressed the importance of considering issues of justice when advocating for environmental policies and solutions. She spoke about the impacts of gentrification in East Austin and explained that issues like gentrification and climate change are all related – they don’t exist in silos.
And last but not least, she advocated for action. “Talk is cheap, it’s about what you all do together…,” Foley said. “Use the power that you have in numbers, in groups, and certain of you that have certain privileges, put all that together, and put your money together, and let’s take these marches and our groups to the next level.”
You can watch additional videos from the Austin People’s Climate March (all courtesy of local videographer Al Braden) below:
And for a video wrap-up of the march itself, be sure to check out this video from local media company, ZGraphix Productions.