The People’s Climate Movement is a coalition of environmental and labor organizations in the United States that has organized a series of marches and protests since 2014. A project of GreenFaith, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, People’s Climate Movement is a vocal supporter of the Green New Deal.
The People’s Climate Movement is a coalition of environmental activist groups created after the People’s Climate March, a large-scale, worldwide set of demonstrations on September 21, 2014. 1 That first march was organized by 350.org and Avaaz, endorsed by at least 1,400 organizations, and attended by an estimated 300,000 in the United States. At the time it was considered the largest climate change march in history, with thousands of participants in other countries around the world. 2 The march was timed to coincide with the U.N. Climate Summit held two days later. 3
Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, first announced the march in an article for Rolling Stone entitled “A Call to Arms,” criticizing President Barack Obama and other world leaders for not doing enough to reverse climate change, and inviting readers to march with him in protest. 4 New York’s left-wing Mayor Bill de Blasio was in attendance and publicly announced a plan to retrofit public buildings to modern environmental standards. 5
The Flood Wall Street Protest took place the day after the march and involved several thousand activists blocking traffic in New York’s financial district for an entire day. Police arrested approximately 100 protesters. 6
Today, many of the organizations that participated in the 2014 demonstrations have representatives who sit on the People’s Climate Movement coalition’s decision-making body, the Mobilization Support Team. PCM describes its strategy as having to components, mass mobilization and movement alignment. The second half of their strategy, “movement alignment,” explains why the leadership and organizations allied through PCM are uniformly left-of-center. 7
The People’s Climate Movement is known for organizing large-scale protest events, but is looking to expand its work at the state level. PCM has formed coalitions in Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota. 8 Within each state, chapters are led by a shorter list of political partners. The Colorado People’s Alliance, for example, is led by representatives from eight organizations: Colorado AFL-CIO, SEIU Local 105, Denver Area Labor Federation, Conservation Colorado, 350 Colorado, the Natural Resources Defense Center (NRDC), Sierra Club, Earth Guardians, and GreenFaith. It’s worth noting that nearly half of these groups are labor unions, and many of them are local chapters of national organizations. 9 In each case, PCM demands a response to climate change, in addition to its local partner’s priorities. In Minnesota, for example, PCM ‘targeted’ Governor Dayton and demanded “a firm limit on greenhouse gas emissions,” as well as “expanded worker training” (a union priority), and respect for the sovereignty of tribal nations (a Native American activist priority). 10
PCM uses its state coalitions to target specific candidates, policies, and companies. In Washington State, PCM organized voter support for Initiative 1631, which would have placed a tax on greenhouse gas emissions. 11 In Los Angeles, PCM helped in the shutdown of the AllenCo oil company, and called for a 2,500 foot health and safety buffer around oil well sites. 12
The People’s March for Climate, Jobs, and Justice
On April 29, 2017, PCM organized The People’s March for Climate, Jobs, and Justice to coincide with President Trump’s 100th day in office. 13 According to PCM’s website, the plan was to “surround” the White House and “make a loud sound demanding climate justice and good jobs that will drown out all of the climate-denying nonsense that has been coming out of this Administration.” PCM estimated that 200,000 individuals attended the demonstration. 14
Bill McKibben explained to the Washington Post how the 2017 march differed from its predecessor: “this time, the fossil fuel industry has fought back and put one of its own in the White House — a guy who even this week was figuring out how to open more national parks to oil drilling, a guy who buys the company line that global warming is a hoax. So now, the task is full-on resistance.” 15
PCM also helped mobilize participants for a number of other events, including the Tax March, a demonstration on April 15, 2017, that demanded President Trump publicly release his tax returns. 16
The Climate Reporter
In 2018, PCM started an online blog called the Climate Reporter in an attempt to organize climate change reporting into once central location. 17
Key Coalition Members
Representatives from the following organizations sit on PCM’s decision-making body, the Mobilization Support Team, all of which are politically left-of-center.
- Alliance for Climate Education
- BlueGreen Alliance
- Community Change
- Center for Popular Democracy (CPD)
- Climate Justice Alliance
- Communications Workers of America (CWA)
- Indigenous Environmental Network
- League of Conservation of Voters
- People’s Action
- SEIU 32BJ
- Sierra Club
- Sunrise Movement
- U.S. Climate Action Network
- Foderaro, Lisa W. “Taking a Call for Climate Change to the Streets.” The New York Times. September 21, 2014. Accessed March 13, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/22/nyregion/new-york-city-climate-change-march.html?_r=0.
- Resnikoff, Ned. “The Largest Climate March in History.” MSNBC. September 21, 2014. Accessed March 13, 2019. http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/largest-climate-march-history-kicks-new-york.
- Brodine, Marc. “Environmental News Roundup: Massive Peoples Climate March at UN Sept. 21.” People’s World. July 02, 2014. Accessed March 13, 2019. https://www.peoplesworld.org/article/environmental-news-roundup-massive-peoples-climate-march-at-un-sept-2/.
- McKibben, Bill. “A Call to Arms: An Invitation to Demand Action on Climate Change.” Rolling Stone. June 25, 2018. Accessed March 13, 2019. https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/a-call-to-arms-an-invitation-to-demand-action-on-climate-change-92885/.
- Jackson, Joe. “Hundreds of Thousands Attend Climate March.” The Wall Street Journal. September 21, 2014. Accessed March 13, 2019. https://www.wsj.com/articles/thousands-attend-peoples-climate-march-in-new-york-city-1411324590.
- Janos, Adam, and Joe Jackson. “More than 100 Arrested at Climate-Change Protest.” The Wall Street Journal. September 23, 2014. Accessed March 13, 2019. https://www.wsj.com/articles/over-100-arrested-at-climate-change-protest-in-lower-manhattan-1411438113.
- “Our Movement.” Peoples Climate Movement. Accessed March 13, 2019. https://peoplesclimate.org/our-movement/.
- “State Collaborations.” Peoples Climate Movement. Accessed March 13, 2019. https://peoplesclimate.org/state-work/.
- “COLORADO CLIMATE MOVEMENT.” Peoples Climate Movement. Accessed March 13, 2019. https://peoplesclimate.org/actions/colorado/.
- “It’s Time for Climate Action in Minnesota.” The Action Network. Accessed March 13, 2019. https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/its-time-for-climate-action-in-minnesota.
- “Get Involved in Washington State.” The Action Network. Accessed March 13, 2019. https://actionnetwork.org/forms/get-involved-in-washington-state.
- “SoCal 350.” The Action Network. Accessed March 13, 2019. https://actionnetwork.org/forms/socal-350.
- Meyer, Robinson. “The Climate March’s Big Tent Strategy Draws a Big Crowd.” The Atlantic. April 30, 2017. Accessed March 13, 2019. https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/04/the-people-who-came-to-the-climate-march/524865/.
- Stein, Perry. “Thousands of Protesters Will Swarm D.C. Again Saturday. This Time It’s for the People’s Climate March.” The Washington Post. April 27, 2017. Accessed March 13, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/thousands-of-protesters-will-swarm-dc-again-saturday-this-time-its-for-the-peoples-climate-march/2017/04/27/ccd819c8-7094-4b8a-a049-881050c574f1_story.html?utm_term=.ca483f55dfea.
- Dennis, Brady. “How Is This Weekend’s Climate March Different from Its Predecessor? ‘Now, the Task Is Full-on Resistance.'” The Washington Post. April 27, 2017. Accessed March 13, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/04/27/how-is-this-weekends-climate-march-different-from-its-predecessor-now-the-task-is-full-on-resistance/?utm_term=.d8a4c644a5f2.
- “Tax March Outreach Day.” The Action Network. Accessed March 13, 2019. https://actionnetwork.org/events/tax-march-outreach-day.
- “The Climate Reporter.” Peoples Climate Movement. Accessed March 13, 2019. https://peoplesclimate.org/actions/the-climate-reporter/.