Climate Activists Stand With Occupy Wall Street Movement

The Occupy Wall Street Movement started with a handful of protesters in the middle of September. Today, it is snowballing into a national movement for “the other 99 percent” — representing a diverse group of Americans who feel disenfranchised by a political and financial system that ignores them.

And now, riding on the momentum created by the Keystone XL pipeline protests in Washington last month, leaders of the climate movement are getting involved.

This evening, a coalition of climate activists led by co-founder Bill McKibben is marching through New York City and joining the thousands of protesters outside of Wall Street:

“For too long, Wall Street has been occupying the offices of our government, and the cloakrooms of our legislatures,” wrote Bill McKibben, co-founder of, in an email urging supporters to join the march, “They’ve been a constant presence, rewarded not with pepper spray in the face but with yet more loopholes and tax breaks and subsidies and contracts. You could even say Wall Street’s been occupying our atmosphere, since any attempt to do anything about climate change always run afoul of the biggest corporations on the planet. So it’s a damned good thing the tables have turned.”

“If Wall Street is occupying President Obama’s State Department and the halls of Congress, it’s time for the people to occupy Wall Street,” said Phil Aroneanu, US campaigns Director for, who is leading the climate delegation for Wednesday’s march.

Seeing this broad-based movement as an opportunity to elevate demands for climate action, groups are planning continued action. Along with the march, a coalition of youth and environmental activists lead by the Energy Action Coalition are holding an Occupy Wall Street “sleep-in” at the U.S. Department of State to protest the Keystone XL Pipeline.

“At previous hearings along the pipeline route, big corporations and their front groups have bussed in people, paid for line sitters, and skirted the rules,” said [Energy Action Coalition Co-Director Maura] Cowley.  “We’ll camp outside of the Reagan building to make sure that our leaders get the chance to speak out against this potentially catastrophic project. TransCanada and Big Oil are occupying our political system, it’s time for us to occupy the State Department.”

The climate movement is only one voice among a variety of groups camped in New York who are troubled by financial and political inequality in the U.S. But as an all-encompassing economic, environmental and political issue, climate activism has the potential to become a key piece of the protests.

Here’s a video from of some Occupy Wall Street folks talking about the connection between Climate Change and the occupation:

JR: I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Occupy Wall Street Movement.

46 Responses to Climate Activists Stand With Occupy Wall Street Movement

  1. Dan Ives says:

    My thoughts: As long as the movement isn’t exploited into a vote factory for the Democrats, it gives me real hope. Part of me almost wishes that the Democrats would distance themselves from it. This movement is populist and genuine, and it must stay that way to remain effective.

  2. Paul Magnus says:

    an American Spring….
    It is way too early, and perhaps even a bit crazy, to see an American Spring in the growing protests on Wall Street.

  3. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Maybe too early Paul but these waves of social change are very contagious and roll around the world landing wherever there are suitable circumstances like social and financial inequality.

    My bet is that it will grow rapidly in the USA but anyway, it certainly beats constant whingeing about the President and the deniers while doing nothing else, ME

  4. Rob Jones says:

    You have a very pertinent point. The forces of plutocracy among us do not seem to understand that where goes social and financial inequality so goes discontent and forces for social change.
    To an outsider America is an exemplary model of plutocracy. These ‘born to rule’ types will not take this disruption at all well. This has the potential to get very ugly if it at all looks likely to succeed. My best wishes and hopes are with the protesters.

  5. Celia Schorr says:

    It’s great – Wall Street is the real and symbolic epicenter of what’s gone wrong. OWS gives me hope for the future.

  6. LP says:

    Dan Ives – I totally agree, but fortunately this is a movement built around people who, unlike the Tea Party, are generally lucid and intelligent enough to see through partisan political theatre, and hopefully that will be enough to keep it going on the right path. Nice to see getting involved as well.

    In the meantime it’s pretty hilarious to see FOX News springing into action to try and subdue this thing on behalf of their plutocrat overlords. Here are some interesting videos:

    Hannity’s predictable spin. It’s just a bunch of lunatic left-wing dirty hippies we cherry-picked out of the crowd who don’t know what they’re talking about folks!

    Meanwhile here’s one they interviewd that I guess they “forgot” to air. Wonder why? ;)

  7. Paul Magnus says:

    Absolutely. Our cohesive future is very uncertain…

  8. Charli says:

    Wow, you really don’t get this movement at all. They’re tired of ALL the politicians because Wall Street OWNS them. That’s the message, they’re not democrats or republicans there, they ARE the 99%!

  9. Charli says:

    Great links, thanks! And wow, who was that guy in the hat that wasn’t aired? Holy informed and lucid speaker! Can I just add? FOX Is a terrible organization that deserves to lose its license. They lie, they misinform and completely leave out relevant information. And whatever happened those English hearings? So, they just got a slap on the wrist?

  10. W Scott Lincoln says:

    That’s not what Bill O’Reilly said. Apparently he doesn’t know what they want, but then went on to say that they want anarchy and to tear down capitalism because they are extreme leftists.

    It was entertaining to watch him flip flop over such a short period of time.

  11. Kota says:

    I think it’s finally a step in the right direction. I’m all for OWS. They are focused not on the government lackies for big corporations out to trash the planet, but the focus is pointing square at the problem this time and I hope they come up with a 99% Party. They have my vote! I’m sick to death and so is the planet of both US parties.

  12. Andy Hultgren says:

    Here’s what I think is valuable about the Occupy Wall Street protests: they are drawing attention to Corporate America as one of the key problems in our society today. And I honestly think they did an excellent job with the name they picked.

    Many progressives think that engaging our immediate community, as individuals, “being the change we wish to see in the world,” will be enough to spread said change. However, I cannot come up with a single instance in history when large-scale change arose out of many distinct individuals only engaging their immediate community with no thought to larger networking or organization.

    Of course, I’m no historian, so I am more than happy to be shown to be wrong. Obviously Occupy Wall Street is not all that organized right now. However if you check out their website the potential (and intent) for organization is clearly there. I hope it becomes a reality.

  13. “I’m worried about my own economics … with student debt.”

    R.I.P. OWS.

    The issue is to be crass and idealistic at the same time, and to do so in this age of cynicism. Nobody can out-crass the bankers, the OWS can only gain credibility if they bleed.

    Being cute, with home-cooked meals? Feh …

    If they bleed, they become hooligans, right now they are marginalized. They gambled on college educations and mortgages and they lost. It’s hard to be crass and idealistic at the same time.

    The real problem is modernity and ‘progress’ but it’s hard to protest against new cars and suburban tract houses because that is what everyone wants. Otherwise, why bother buying a house or going to college? People want stuff, including the protesters, both here and in the US. Modernity is the issue, not the banks who are middlemen offering ‘double or nothing’.

    Right now the OWS are whining because they don’t get the bankers’ discount. It’s hard to be idealistic and crass at the same time …

    Nail in coffin is when Jessie Jackson, Jimmy Carter, Move-on and Al Sharpton show up w/ TV cameras.

  14. Wes Rolley says:

    Two connected, but not identical things going on. In one case, David Cobb, 2004 Green Party candidate for POTUS, is going around the country to push the idea of a constitutional amendment that would deny corporations their “personhood”. The effort is called Move to Amend. see

    The other is a different attempt to amend the US constitution to take the big money out of politics. It is being pushed by Dylan Ratigan on MSNBC, among other places. It is called Get the Money Out and can be found at

    For all of the effort, and the passion, being put into OWS, it will still end up requiring something like these proposed amendments. I prefer Move to Amend’s approach.

  15. Stephen Watson says:

    Wall Street funds climate change. OWS is a superb creation and all power to them

  16. Peter Mizla says:

    I hope this protest movement grows, and becomes a force in ending the Plutocracy built up over the last 35 years. I call it America’s second Gilded Age. The Modern Day Robber Barons have pillaged the American dream into ‘Banana Republica’. Those having, and those not having. What is equally sad- is that even the Democratic party has become A foot soldiers for this ‘New Plutocracy’. One of the main reasons I joined the Green Party earlier this year.

  17. Tom says:

    @Andy: U.S. involvement in the Viet Nam war (probably before your time) was directly affected by large-scale country-wide protests by ordinary citizens and finally ended due to these actions (many of the people were voters and D.C. took its cue from them).

    i don’t know if the dysfunctional, unresponsive so-called government we have now (it certainly isn’t a democracy any more) will respond the same way, but i HOPE to see real CHANGE as a result.

  18. David Smith says:

    You should read a little more history. The Boston Tea Party was planned by four people in and implemented by about 160 persons and had a lot of impact leading to the American Revolution. Many people believe that the insurection at Harpers Ferry where John Brown, four of his sons and others stormed an armory was in fact the first gesture of the Civil War. Inspired, empowered individuals acting in their communities have always had impact. We need more of these individuals. You could be one of them. Stop listening to the multitudes who repeat endlessly, “I’m just one person, I can’t do anything, wa wa wa…” If you can’t lead, find someone who can (in your community) and help them.

  19. steve says:

    Well I’m sick of hearing about the lack of focus on the part of the protesters. Of course there’s a lack of focus, because so much has gone wrong in this country in the past 30 years, accelerated in the last 10. As one protesting it’s simple what I want:

    Living wages, fair taxation, a clean environment, universal access to health care and education, and a responsive just democracy that punishes those who defile it through illegal wars, torture, and corporate capture of our legislatures. I want decency.

    There – is that focused enough for the msm?

  20. Lynden says:

    He is Ministry of Truth from Kos. That video has gone viral but Greta has not aired it.

  21. Z S says:

    I’ll be at the sleep-in tonight outside of the Reagan building, and then at the Keystone XL protest tomorrow morning/afternoon. Hope to see some CP readers/commenters there!

  22. John Wilson says:

    Add to rescinding corporate personhood and “get the money out”:

    Robin Hood tax:

  23. fj says:

    for genius social entrepreneurs & innovators #occupywallst is a terrific opportunity to move at wartime speed against accelerating climate change and fossil fuel corruption to restore the natural world that nurtures us and advance to a much more enlightened zero carbon civilization

  24. Tom Lenz says:

    It was informative to watch Ali Velshi and the rest on CNN the other morning sniffing with contempt for the protesters. In one video someone tossed a small dog onto what looked like a fluffy pile of sleeping bags or something. It was obviously just somebody playing with their dog but guess what? Suddenly the gang was talking about “people who throw dogs around” while Velshi was “offended” by comparisons to the Arab Spring movement. The condescention was palpable. It was Fox And Friends starring the folks from the other side of the street. I figured a financial expert like Ali Velshi would have a better grasp of percentages.

  25. Tom Lenz says:

    It’s not just the Fox.

  26. J Bowers says:

    “FOX Is a terrible organization that deserves to lose its license. They lie…”

    Let’s never forget this episode…

    However, Fox appealed and prevailed February 14, 2003 when the jury decision was reversed on a legal technicality: the appeals court agreed with Fox that it is technically not against any law, rule or regulation to deliberately distort the news on television [1], “an argument that had been rejected by three other judges on at least six separate occasions.”

  27. Hank says:

    Re; the Climate activist joining in…….
    Way to go guys, find a good protest with good publicity and jump right in and make it your own. Sheesh!

  28. Chris Winter says:

    You won’t see that video on Fox, that’s for sure.

  29. Chris Winter says:

    I hope we see more of that guy in the second video. He’s good. He’s like “Joe the Plumber” with brains and integrity.

  30. Chris Winter says:

    As the old saying has it, “A good idea is not responsible for all those who believe in it.” Any large assembly of people will include some who are less articulate or less sincere. Of course Fox will go for the worst of these.

    Street theater has a way of dramatizing issues, of grabbing and focusing the attention of the country. However, the issue will soon fade away if it’s not a substantive grievance for many in the country. OWS has a substantive issue.

  31. Brooks Bridges says:

    Excellent article by Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day movement: ” What the Environmental Movement Can Learn From the Wall Street Zombies”

    Points out the differences between OWS and, for instance, recent Tar Sands protests in DC.

  32. Fire Mountain says:

    This is grabbing major attention on the networks, and high in broadcasts. Breakthrough moment. Mass arrests catalyzed attention, action on Brooklyn Bridge and now the latest. Way more than the White House actions by Target 350. Lesson, go massive. 1,000 people arrested in one day draws way more attention than over several weeks. Actually blocking something and getting in the way of business as usual is more effective than polite, ritualized arrests a few at a time. Glad Bill and company are taking part in this. But maybe more than sleeping in at Foggy Bottom, how about blocking the entrance? Time to get hardcore.

  33. Dan Ives says:

    I think you’ve misunderstood me. I meant that I hope the movement isn’t exploited by the national Democrats seeking re-election in 2012, for the very reason that the movement is largely critical of politicians in both parties. I understand that the movement is populist and not politically affiliated with either party. Please don’t be so hasty to jump to conclusions.

  34. Z S says:

    The sleep-in isn’t at Foggy Bottom, it’s near Federal Triangle (14th and Pennsylvania). And while I definitely sympathize with your points about going massive and getting in the way of BAU, the goal of the sleep-in is to hold a spot for the people that really need to testify tomorrow – scientists, environmental leaders, people that will be affected by the pipeline – so that industry can’t bus in astroturfers to clog the State Dept. hearings, as they’ve done previously. Getting arrested would also mean failing to meet that goal, which is a realistic, achievable goal. There are a thousand different faces to the Wall Street and Environmental activist movements, and it’s important to keep grinding on the tangible, smaller stuff even while keeping an eye toward the larger paradigm shifts in popular opinion.

  35. Ernest says:

    The lack of focus on the part OWS is said to deliberate. They want it to be as inclusive and non-hierarchical as possible. (It seems at this stage they are going for growth rather than coherence. Maybe things will change later on.) It is not just one movement, but many movements. However, a few organizing themes should help in shaping the narrative battlescape for 2012 and beyond.
    1. The undue influence of coporations and money interests in our political institutions (Democrat and Republican).
    2. The huge income inequality in our country.
    3. The declining middle class.
    4. The struggle for jobs.

    I’m glad there is “push back” on the agenda of the tea party such as “taxes”, “big government”, “debt”, which has thus far dominated the agenda in Washington since 2010. I’m not sure how OWS will translate into specific policies. But whoever winds up elected as president, Romney or Obama, I hope OWS themes will hold the feet of those in power to the fire on these issues and it’s not simply the issues the Republican want addressed (assuming they control both the House and Senate).


    I am not sure what OWS will mean for climate change activism. Certainly, it’s good to highlight corporate influence over sound environmental and energy policies. On the other hand, economic issues will dominate so heavily that climate issues will be pushed back into the background. It’s hard to worry about 2050 or 2100 when you don’t have a job and trying to make ends meet day to day. My realistic (cynical?) side thinks that it’s nearly impossible for most humans to address this issue in a massive and serious way unless absolutely forced to. Probably continuous catastrophic climate events, persistent food and water shortages (circa 2020’s?) will cause everyone to wake up (?) Meanwhile, climate activists can continue to protest, to keep the issue alive. Cleantech should continue
    to work to lower its cost of it’s technology. States should be laboratories for finding the “best practice” policies for moving toward a “low carbon economy”. At this point, everything is “staging” for that day when the world wakes up, so that when it does, the “ducks are lined up”, and a rapid transition can happen (assuming it’s not too late).

  36. Michael T says:

    Has anyone heard of this guy, Harry Braun who is a democratic candidate running for president? From his website, he seems to get the climate change problem and wants to create a “solar hydrogen economy”. I’ve never heard of him until I saw him on a video segment on msnbc of the “Occupy Wall Street” protests. He must have been there promoting his presidential campaign.

  37. Etaoin Shrdlu says:

    The results of 30 years of dumbing-down by our “educational” system is currently on display on Wall Street.

  38. Clinton M says:

    Climate hawks need to be able to summarize and influence public opinion with something simple, low-cost, and capable of mass production. This climate tool must be catching to the eye, not complicated, and contain enough “meat” to get the job done.

    With all the brain power devoted to this subject, why can’t we come up with something for the masses that can be mass-produced?

    You want more coverage? Start covering more people. Simple, low-cost, with the rib-sticking appeal of oatmeal.

    One letter sized sheet. Clear facts. WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR? Put it in your back pocket, hand it out like candy.

  39. Jan says:

    I’m torn about this. I think this is definitely part of the same status quo, but I also don’t want to see this movement co-opted by any organization. He won’t be asking for donations to his organization there, will he?

  40. Joe Romm says:


  41. Artful Dodger says:

    This gambit started when Nixon went to China in 1972. “Most-favored Nation” trade-status was the signal Pollutocrats needed to begin the mass-migration of manufacturing jobs from North America to Asia.

  42. Artful Dodger says:

    … as you will own the consequences of climate change.

  43. Artful Dodger says:

    … and in your Comment. You display only rhetoric, bereft of critical thinking.

  44. Artful Dodger says:

    Has it occurred to you that ‘continuous crisis’ is a deliberate tactic? A way to deny basic human needs in order to control minds, and avert focus on longer-term issue? Just sayin…

  45. Great mother says:

    Ive never really had anything to do with politics thought it was corrupt but the way the world is going lately things don’t look very good. I am not a member of a militia but i think are for fathers that wrote the constitution would not want this country being ran by corporate greed it is every bit as bad as terrorism we should take are country over by force if need be re establish government close borders kick anyone that is not American any one with work visas out of the country and become a self sufficient country . also Politicians should be drafted or a lottery set up with social security numbers to be elected in office kinda like jury duty everyone has to do civic duty and to be paid no more than a soldiers salary to take the corruption out of the political Environment yes you may laugh and think this would not work but imagine if the entire us population were to take over each state all at the same time it could work and things could start to change for the better “ANARCHISM IS NOT TERRORISM IT IS GOING TO SAVE OUR PLANET AND YOUR COUNTRY ONLY IF YOU ORGANIZE AND ACT IF NOT CONTINUE TO SUFFER IT IS THE ONLY WAY TO MAKE THEM UNDERSTAND TAKE FROM THEM WHAT THEY TOOK FROM YOU” PEACE OUT !!!!!!!!!