By preliminary estimates, the global uprising that was Friday’s Global Climate Strike inspired more than four million people around the world to rally and march for an end to the fossil fuel era. Roughly 250,000 marched in New York City alone.
In San Antonio, about 100 filled a corner of Main Plaza and intimately passed the mic to describe their fears, desires, frustrations, and hopes for the future, with the youngest and reticent receiving encouraging cheers. (See: “Powerful Voices Sing at Global Climate Strike.”)
There were also smaller gatherings that day at Yanaguana Gardens at Hemifair and Trinity University.
But roughly 150 residents who either missed Friday’s events or hadn’t had their fill returned to take over Main Plaza on Saturday morning. The arching steps of the City Council Chambers served as stage for a variety of messages: A call to radical disobedience for climate justice from one, a demand for safer roadways for bicyclists from another. The only messengers from the political class brought a solidarity statement from a US Rep. Lloyd Doggett and a pledge by San Antonio mayor Ron Nirenberg to pass a City climate plan in October—in spite of resistance from the oil and gas lobby.
It was not to be an easy appearance for Nirenberg.
As Nicholas Frank and Brendan Gibbons write at the Rivard Report:
Before Nirenberg addressed the crowd, some people had taped signs up to the side of the Municipal Plaza Building. “Nirenberg, we know who owns you,” one of the signs read. Nirenberg referenced it in his speech.
“You own me,” Nirenberg said. “The people of this community own me.”
A handful of people in the audience heckled the mayor, with some shouting of “shame,” “shut down the coal plants,” and “hold CPS [Energy] accountable.” Many more in the crowd cheered when Nirenberg urged them to support the passing of San Antonio’s Climate Action and Adaptation Plan on Oct. 17.
Climate-focused rallies in San Antonio have picked up since Donald Trump announced June 1, 2017, that he was beginning the process to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement, a voluntary international framework intended to help the world’s nations reduce emissions and avoid catastrophic and potentially irreversible destabilization of the earth’s climate system.
Nearly 90 area volunteers have worked for more than a year with City staff and consultants to develop a climate plan for San Antonio. It calls for cutting local emissions roughly in half by 2030 and entirely by 2050. However, the plan provides City-owned CPS Energy a lot of leeway in how they reach those numbers, with recent presentations by CPS CEO Paula Gold-Williams suggesting the utility plans to keep burning coal into the 2060’s.
With the vote approaching on October 17, the Global Climate Strike, a week-long event that concludes on September 27, 2019, has strong local resonance. “I hope they can see how important it is to us,” rally participant Vanessa Ramon later told Spectrum News. “We’re going to do all that we can to save our earth.”
You can see some of the faces from the event below—including a mass die-in organized by Bike San Antonio—followed by a video of the entire rally and march.