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Activists plan marches, murals ahead of Gov. Brown’s climate summit

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David Solnit (center) and activists paint a mural using environmentally friendly paints and clay soil from the Sierra foothills (Ian Williams/SF Examiner).

Just days before an international climate change summit arrives in San Francisco next month, protesters plan to fill the streets with marches and murals in a bid to change the course of climate leadership.

A press conference Wednesday for the Rise for Climate, Jobs, and Justice Mobilization gathered an eclectic group of speakers in front of the Ferry Building to rally support for their Sep. 8 march down Market Street.

March organizers expect tens of thousands of participants to arrive in San Francisco just days before the Sep. 12 Global Climate Action Summit to call for increased efforts in the fight against climate change.

The summit will assemble leaders from state and local governments, including California Governor Jerry Brown, for a showcase on domestic and international climate change abatement efforts.

For some, however, more drastic changes are needed.

“Real climate change leadership means stopping climate change at its source and leading [a] just transition away from an economy based only on profit and pollution toward healthy, life-sustaining economies that benefit everyone,” said Miya Yoshitani, the executive director of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network.

San Francisco’s march will serve as a flagship demonstration for similar events held across the country on the same day. New York City, Miami and New Orleans, among others, will all host demonstrations to urge elected officials to take action on climate change.

Thousands of march participants will gather near Sue Bierman Park before marching down Market Street to Civic Center Plaza, where 55 murals will be painted in and around the park to create what organizers are calling the biggest street mural ever.

During the press conference muralist David Solnit and other artists painted an example of what participants can expect to see on Sep. 8. The blue and gold mural was ringed with a black band of charcoal that Solnit collected from the remains of fires just outside Napa.

The artists participating in the landmark mural have been given a prompt.

“What’s one solution to climate change and injustice in your community?” Solnit said.

The march was born largely from dissatisfaction among communities that have seen too little change and a disproportionate burden from climate change’s impacts, such as those living with poor air quality near the Chevron Richmond Refinery, organizers said.

A spokesperson for the Global Climate Action Summit said the two events support the same cause.

“I think it’s perfectly understandable that local communities want to protest,” said Nick Nuttall, director of communications for the Global Climate Action Summit. “But there also needs to be some realism. Two centuries of fossil fuel use can’t be reversed with the push of a button.”

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