SAN FRANCISCO – This Saturday San Francisco hosted one of over 1,400 rallies across the country calling on political leaders to “Step It Up” by strengthening policies to cut carbon emissions – making it part of the largest coordinated climate change event in U.S. history. Step It Up San Francisco featured a carnival-like atmosphere complete with a Toss Out Fossil Fuel sock toss, sidewalk chalk, electric cars, and solar-powered smoothies. Eager for more government action around climate change, the crowd “gave City Hall the green finger” by stamping their fingers with green ink and symbolically pointing at City Hall.
“November 3 represents a new move towards political accountability,” said Step It Up founder Bill McKibben. “So far it’s been enough for politicians to say: I care. Now, one year out from a pivotal global warming election, it’s time to see who’s going to lead.” Fliers distributed at the event highlighted that San Francisco is failing to meet 65% of its own climate action plan, and needs to immediately triple carbon reduction rates to get back on track. Step It Up San Francisco volunteer organizer Jerry Stone said, “It takes the momentum of a grassroots movement paired with effective policy to generate real change.”
Anti-war activist and Congressional candidate Cindy Sheehan discussed the need to reduce U.S. oil dependency to prevent climate change and stop wars waged for oil. Supervisor Aaron Peskin urged the crowd to vote “Yes on A, No on H” during this Tuesday’s election to support public transit investments. Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, along with Mayoral candidates Quentin Mecke, John Rinaldi and Josh Wolf, discussed the importance of fulfilling San Francisco’s Climate Action Plan and implementing an energy policy called Community Choice Aggregation. Mayoral candidate Ahimsa Sumchai called on the city to address the toxic pollution in the Bay View Hunters Point being recklessly caused by Lennar Corp and PG&E’s toxic legacy. Mayor Gavin Newsom did not attend.
The event kicked off with a parade of bicycles, electric cars from the San Francisco Electric Vehicle Association and a carbon-negative car that runs on coffee grinds. About two hundred people circled through the plaza, which featured a group of League of Pissed Off Voters artists painting a biofuel bus, a massive solar panel from Greenpeace that powered the event, and a carbon-eating mobile algae farm. Balloons and banners around the plaza were marked with the event’s platform:
- City Hall must get back on track to meet Climate Action Plan
- No Coal, No Nukes, No Problem
- Cut Carbon 80% by 2050
- 5 Million Green Jobs Conserving 20% of Our Energy By 2015
The national Step It Up platform template was uniquely adapted by the San Francisco group of 17 endorsing organization – including Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility, Sierra Club Bay Chapter, and Rainforest Action Network – by integrating an opposition to nuclear power as a central part of its platform. David Jay of the Green Guerrillas Against Greenwash noted, “Let’s forget for the moment about the general nastiness of uranium mining, the recent accidents and near disasters, the fact that nuclear waste is deadly for hundreds of thousands of years and is sitting around in containers that last 20, and the fact that no one has the faintest idea what to do with it. Economically, nukes don’t work… Our leaders must recognize there are distractions, like nuclear, that we can’t afford.” The San Francisco organizers even posted to the national homepage of Step It Up, calling on other rallies to echo their opposition of nuclear power. Dressed in a gorilla costumer, and slurping on a solar-powered smoothie made from local organic pears, Jay led the crowd in chanting “No Coal, No Nukes, No Problem!” A delicious way to spend the day and protect the few blue skies left in our foggy city.