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marchEnvironmentalists are gathering nationwide for what may be the largest climate march in history. 

On September 23, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon will host an international climate summit in New York City. President Obama will be attending, as well as the heads of several leading nations and multinational corporations.

But before these political and business officials meet, men and women will go marching through the streets of New York in support of stronger environmental initiatives for the entire planet. The event is being called the People’s Climate March and, by all accounts, its attendance will be massive.

Approximately 1,000 environmental, religious, civic and labor organizations will be participating in the march, and from September 19-21, an alternative climate summit, the “NYC Climate Convergence,” will feature such activists as Naomi Klein, Vandana Shiva, Christian Parenti and Patrick Bond. Topics will range from fossil fuel divestment to the creation of living wage jobs.

From September 17th through the 24th, the Our Power Campaign is hosting an International Week of Solidarity for frontline communities around the world. They’re demanding that local, national and international decision-makers transition away from “dig, burn and dump” and towards “local, living economies.” The campaign sees the summit as more “business-as-usual” for international politicians and is demanding the involvement of the people in the global process.

On their website, they claim that, “This summit represents yet another step towards the corporate takeover of the UN climate negotiations, and the privatization of land, water and air resources under the guise of a global climate compact.”

Native American activists are also gathering, hoping to double the 35,000 attendance of the February 2012 climate rally in Washington, D.C.

Despite these impressive numbers, there are two men whose absence will be conspicuously noted at the event: Chinese President Xi Jinping and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Since 2007, China has been the world’s leading greenhouse gas emitter, with India trailing just behind the United States for third place. Though the September 23 summit is not an official negotiating session, Ki-Moon hopes to use the gathering to consult with nations ahead of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference.

Though neither China nor India has pledged a representative, both countries have shown some environmental progress in recent months. Modi has publicly come out in favor of pushing his country towards cleaner energy and last week China announced its plans to implement a nationwide cap-and-trade program in 2016.

Still, without two of the world’s three biggest polluters at the NYC summit, the future of global climate policies will remain up in the air until other countries can know their leaders’ thoughts.

“I think the important issue for us is really on the commitments that countries will bring,” says Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric. “And the Secretary General expects every member state to come with strong and bold commitments on climate change.”

For those who wish to attend the People’s Climate March on September 21, you can visit the official site for more information.

As of this writing, the march is scheduled to begin at 11:30 AM in Central Park West, between 59th and 86th streets.

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