Sponsored by Ventura350 and organized by individuals from several environmental and climate organizations, the march was organized in solidarity with the People’s Climate March in NYC to demand change from world leaders coming to the UN Emergency Climate Summit on Tuesday. Approximately 2,500 similar events were held throughout the U.S. and hundreds more in 165 other countries.
The event started at 8:30 am, when march organizers met at Ventura City Corps and dozens gathered for breakfast while live-streaming the 400,000 people marching in NYC. At 10:00 am Chumash spiritual leader Peuyoko Perez did a blessing ceremony for the march. Then, the group met in front of the statue of Father Serra near the Ventura City Hall to hear speeches by elected officials as well as climate and anti-fracking leaders. Deacon Ed Mills of St. Augustine Church started off the program with a blessing and inspiring words about protecting the world for future generations. Mayor Cheryl Heitmann welcomed rally participants to Ventura and affirmed that we need to take action on climate change. Supervisor Steve Bennett spoke about how money in politics prevents representatives from making thoughtful decisions to counteract climate change. Stanley Tzankov, Field Representative for Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson spoke about how policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions do not cost any more than the cost of doing business as usual. Rally attendees also heard from David Atkins, campaign manager for Measure P to Ban Fracking in Santa Barbara County and Oxnard City Councilperson Carmen Ramirez. Ramirez spoke about her success in the city of Oxnard with a moratorium on a new gas-fired power plant on the shores of Oxnard.
Jan Dietrick, founding leader of Ventura Citizens Climate Lobby told participants in the rally, “The cost of price of fossil fuels does not cover their true costs to our health, national security and our environment. The next step to correct the unjust pricing of carbon in the US is for Congress to enact a tax on carbon.” She explained that “if it is 100% revenue neutral then it’s a fee, not a tax.” Including a border adjustment, she explained that such a policy is politically feasible and “will send a global price signal supporting a global power shift, improving the economy and jobs while reducing carbon emissions.”
Tomas Rebecchi is new to Ventura County and will be furthering the campaign against fracking in Ventura County. He spoke about the experience of his family when fracking was introduced in San Benito County, California. Marie Lakin, Field Representative for Senator Fran Pavley, spoke briefly about the great achievements for the climate by Senator Pavley. As a school teacher, she is an example of someone who did not plan to be a politician, but wanted to solve some problems that led to her creating a global model for policy for automobile fuel efficiency standards and the California Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32).
Rachel Morris, along with two of her granddaughters, talked about how every individual must be a leader in order to motivate politicians to take action. She said, “You can’t just sit on the couch and be peevish about elected officials not doing something, if you’re not leading”. She claimed that by participating in the People’s Climate March, “we are actually giving the political leaders the clout to do something”.
Then, Leo Martinez of Todo Poder al Pueblo led the march down California Street to the Ventura Pier. Peuyoko Perez and Alan Salazar led a Chumash ceremony at the end of the pier while marchers gathered around. Participants were enthusiastic about the turnout for the event. Ventura350 steering committee member and chair of Unitarian Universalist Church of Ventura Environmental Action Team, Kitty Merrill, declared, “I think the thing that is so powerful about this march is how many different types of people are here today: different ages, ethnicities, different socio-economic levels. Everyone from babies to octogenarians, we all want better for this planet. I hope this march helps people in power understand that we depend on them to take on these hard issues. That’s what being a leader is supposed to mean”. Since the march coincided with World Peace Day, some participants including peace activist Sanderson Beck drew correlation between environmental issues and others: “I’m concerned about climate change, poverty, and war- they are all interrelated”.
After the march, dozens gathered at Ventura City Corps to watch and discuss the movie “Disruption. Climate. Change.” and to participate in workshops. Some of the workshop topics included climate adaptation, permaculture and preparedness for climate change, how to call voters for the anti-fracking referendum in Santa Barbara County, and how to lobby Congress. Participants hand wrote 20 letters for mailing to Members of Congress asking for sponsorship of carbon fee and dividend legislation that gives all the revenue to households. Musicians performed throughout the afternoon, and artists created collages to express their intentions for the future of the movement.
At 7 p.m., approximately 50 people marched with the newly launched Ventura Light Brigade back down California Street to the 101 freeway overpass holding signs with lighted letters saying “Global Warming ≠ Cool”. Cars honked in support and marchers participated in chants led by Ryan Kaercher.
The global day of climate action comes just two days before a UN Climate Summit, which is hosted by UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, and attended by more than 125 world leaders, including US President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande, South Korean President Park Geun-hye, and UK Prime Minister David Cameron. The summit is intended to kickstart a process that will end with significant agreement at next December’s global negotiations in Paris.