‘Here We March, We can do no other’

The LWF delegation to the New York Climate events participated in the “Largest Climate March” in history, held 21 September, in New York City. Photo: #Fast for the Climate: Nikola Taylor
The LWF delegation to the New York Climate events participated in the “Largest Climate March” in history, held 21 September, in New York City. Photo: #Fast for the Climate: Nikola Taylor

(LWI) – The historic “People’s Climate March” on 21 September in New York, was a successful and unique event that also affirmed the important contribution of faith organization to the struggle for society’s common good, says Mr Martin Kopp, The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) delegate to the event, preceding the 23 September United Nations Summit.

“We are an important voice in the chorus that constitutes ‘the people’ and it matters for religions to be identified as allies in the fight for the common good,” Kopp told Lutheran World Information. He represented the LWF and the interfaith “# Fast for the Climate” campaign in the march, which organizers say drew more than 400,000 participants to New York City, in addition to over 2,600 related events around the world.

Kopp said the event, considered as the biggest climate march in history, was a success, not only because of the huge number of marchers demanding action on climate change across the globe but also because of the wide array of organizations participating in the US, and the coming together of civil society. “It managed to get everyone on board: environmental organizations, scientists, religions […] and that is new, unions. It achieved its goal of mobilizing ahead of the Heads of State Summit.”

Kopp said “The People's Climate March is considered by some as the birth of a true climate social movement. And it is true that on the contrary to the Copenhagen mobilization, today the civil society was united.”

The visibility of faith organizations in New York highlighted the need to reflect on crucial questions about “the meaning of our lives and societies” in the midst of scientific and technical discussions on emissions’ reduction, financing and a concrete action plan for adaptation, he said.

The “#fast for the climate” campaign consisting of faith and civil society organizations including the LWF is an important expression of solidarity with the poor and marginalized who are most severely affected by climate change. It helps to “point to what lies behind the material contingencies of people’s lives: what do we live for? why do we live together? what is our goal as a society? what do we want to achieve?” Kopp noted.

A member of the LWF delegation to the annual Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN climate change conferences, Kopp said the participation of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in the march was “a strong sign of the utmost importance he gives to the climate change issue.” However, more political will is still needed for a far-reaching climate agreement.

Still, the huge mobilization towards the march was “a first reason to hope” in anticipation of the 2015 COP. “I believe it is realistic to consider that political decisions cannot be made without a clear position and push from the public. […] And the People’s Climate March sent today a clear message in that regard,” Kopp noted.

The LWF delegate hopes that through the #Fast for the Climate initiative and other platforms, religious organizations and civil society will continue to engage different stakeholders in demanding an ambitious but also fair climate agreement to limit the rising of mean temperature to 2 degrees.

Other Lutheran delegates in the march included staff of the Lutheran Office for World Community at the UN headquarters. Referring to Martin Luther’s citation, one of them remarked, “Here we march, we can do no other.”