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Climate Marchers Try To Build Momentum For 2015


World leaders are converging in New York for the United Nations Climate Summit. And thousands of environmentalists have gathered in New York as well. The event is billed as the People's Climate March, and tens of thousands of activists, church groups, actors and politicians are marching through the streets of Manhattan. Joining me now from New York is NPR's Joel Rose. Hi, Joel.


GOODWYN: This has turned into a massive protest. You're on the streets with the marchers, what're you seeing and hearing?

ROSE: Well, yeah, it's very big. It is orderly, at least from where I can tell. And it is loud. I've counted two marching bands, at least three drum circles, air horns, trumpets, you name it, and all kinds of signs for pretty much every kind of environmental cause you could name. There are more than 1,400 groups involved in organizing this march - schools and faith groups to businesses, nonprofits. So it's a big tent. The organizers say it's the biggest planetary march, before this one was 100,000. And they're confident that this one will be bigger. We won't know that officially for a little while yet, but it is certainly large.

GOODWYN: So organizers are getting the numbers they expected.

ROSE: Well, it's hard to be precise. I mean, the protesters lined up for the march on Central Park West and the police have blocked off almost 30 blocks of the park. And they were just full - you know, the street was closed and protesters had filled the street for block after block after block. So it's certainly a big march. Whether they're going to get to the 100,000 number or not is an open question, but, I mean, in any case, they got quite a turn out.

GOODWYN: Let's talk about what the marchers want.

ROSE: Well, with so many groups involved, there are a number of different causes. As I said, you see signs for all kinds of things. But I think the one overarching concern people have here is they want action on climate change. There's a sense of frustration. People feel that the science on what is causing climate change has been clear for a long time and they want to see concrete actions from world leaders to limit greenhouse gas emissions. And, you know, that's something that the United - that the world leaders gathering here for the United Nations Climate Summit on Tuesday will discuss, but concrete action has alluded them in the past and, you know, that's something that the protesters here very much want to see.

GOODWYN: Is there a feeling that this is going to have an impact on the U.N. Climate Summit next week?

ROSE: You know, that's really - that's a big question hanging all of this is, you know, even if they get the number that they want, what difference will it make inside the halls of the U.N. when they start to actually talk about these very difficult issues. I don't think anyone expects that they're suddenly going to reach a breakthrough on Tuesday or Thursday or whatever. But I think the hope is that this giant protest will help build a sort of grassroots movement that will continue to put pressure on world leaders here and abroad as they sort of hammer out some of the difficult details moving towards this next U.N. Climate Summit in - sorry, at the U.N. Climate Conference in Paris late next year.

GOODWYN: That's NPR's Joel Rose in Manhattan. Thanks so much, Joel.

ROSE: You're welcome, Wade. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.