Sunday rallies in Amherst and Northampton are part of Global Climate March

Last modified: Saturday, November 28, 2015

NORTHAMPTON — With the United Nations climate summit set to begin in Paris on Monday, people in Northampton and Amherst will rally Sunday evening in support of a treaty aiming at reducing carbon emissions.

“These climate talks in Paris are what many climatologists are calling the last, best chance to prevent catastrophic global warming,” said Marty Nathan, of Northampton, a member of Climate Action Now, a Pioneer Valley-based organization focused on explaining how climate change and disruption is adversely affecting both poor Americans and people living in developing countries.

Nathan said 2015 will be the hottest year on record.

“We’re coming out to support the nations of the world in making the hard choices to reduce greenhouse gases,” said Tim Holcomb, of Amherst, also a member of Climate Action Now.

The Northampton rally will start at Northampton High School at 5:30 p.m., with residents and families joining students and faculty at Smith College for a walk to the steps of City Hall, where activities are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.

In Amherst, the rally begins at 6 p.m. on the North Common, with a model of the Eiffel Tower on display, singing by the Raging Grannies, and people reading their “letters to the future” about what they want for their descendants and what they are asking world leaders to do in Paris. The event will conclude with the ringing of bells at the Grace Episcopal Church.

The rallies are two of more than 1,900 planned across the world as part of the Global Climate March, with advocates pushing for a treaty that commits countries to leaving 80 percent of current fossil fuel reserves in the ground. By doing this, the projected rise in global temperatures would be held to 2 degrees centigrade.

“Within the organizations that are sponsoring this, we really are keeping the faith that there will be some kind of substantive agreements that move us forward in an international dialogue that has to happen,” Holcomb said.

Organizers argue that previous negotiations, since the Kyoto Protocol in the 1990s, have not yielded powerful enough agreements, though there is growing confidence with organizers pointing to President Obama’s successful negotiations with China last fall following a climate march in New York City, and his recent rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline that would have brought oil from tar sands in Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast.

But Nathan said the struggle will continue no matter what happens in Paris and that climate talks have only occurred because of the continued push from grass-roots organizations against powerful energy companies and interests.

Betsy Krogh, a member of the Earth Ministry team at First Congregational Church in Amherst, said in an email that people of many different faiths have been inspired by Pope Francis.

“We are hoping that the ‘Francis effect,’ the impact of the Pope’s encyclical on people of faith and the general public, will cause many people to join us in the movement to bring significant, effective and timely action to address climate change in Paris, and here in our local area,” Krogh wrote.

Besides Climate Action Now, the Pioneer Valley Mothers Out Front, is another organization sponsoring the Amherst rally and educating people about the dangers of continued use of coal, oil and natural gas as energy sources in heating, electricity generation, industry and transportation. Mothers Out Front has held weekly actions to lobby politicians in advance of the Paris talks for the past 40 weeks, representing the length of a pregnancy.

Organizers are asking participants to bring flashlights or other light sources, as well as signs and posters.

Among other sponsors of the rallies are, DivestOurPensionsNow, Smith College Center for the Environment, Ecological Design and Sustainability, Divest Smith College, Congregation B’nai Israel’s Tikkun Olam Committee, Western Mass American Friends Service Committee, Northampton Committee to Stop War, the Northampton Democratic City Committee, the Unitarian Society of Northampton, Florence Climate Action Group, Peace and Justice Committee of First Churches Northampton, the environmental club at Northampton High School, the Sanctuary Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst, Hampshire College Climate Justice League, Grace Church’s Greening Grace Committee and Collective Copies.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at


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