Fossil Free Texas holds march in advance of Paris Climate Summit

Selah Maya Zighelboim

With the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris a little more than a month away, Fossil Free Texas organized a march through campus Wednesday afternoon to create momentum for climate change reform.

Fossil Free Texas member and Middle Eastern studies doctoral student Matthew Chovanec said he does not know if the Paris Climate Summit will result in climate change action, but he believes it is more likely to if world leaders see large numbers of people marching for climate change action.

“As we saw with the march last September in New York, putting people in the streets makes a big difference,” Chovanec said. “I don’t really have as much faith in the leaders that are going there as I do in the people who are forcing them to make strong commitments.”

About 10 people attended the march, which began on Speedway between Jester and the Perry-Castañada Library and continued north along Speedway to the East Mall. Chovanec said he organized the event to be a bike ride through campus, but when most people did not bring bikes, he changed the event to a march instead.

According to Chovanec, the Paris climate talks will be the largest climate talks since the Copenhagen Climate Conference in 2009, which he said did not bring about the change he wants.

Fossil Free Texas is planning on having another march for climate change at the Capitol on Nov. 29, the day before the climate summit. The march in November is part of an international effort by 350.org to hold marches around the world and demand action at the Paris Climate Talks, according to Chovanec.

Last year, an estimated 400,000 people attended the People’s Climate March in New York City, which was widely reported to be the largest climate change rally in history.

Wildflower Unitarian Universalist Church climate action team chair Susan Lippman, who attended the People’s Climate March, said she is concerned about climate change, but she believes the situation will improve.

“It looks like perception of the severity of climate threat is increasing around the world, almost from the grassroots up,” Lippman said.

Kinesiology sophomore Chris Seo said he does not think the Climate Change Summit will result in effective climate change action.

“Personally, I do care about climate change,” Seo said. “I just don’t know how much change will come out of it, so I don’t expect much.”