This Day in History

Oct. 24, 2009: International Climate Day of Action

Time Periods: 2001-
Themes: Environment, Climate Justice, Organizing

In the lead-up to an international conference on climate change, climate activists organized a “day of action” for October 24, 2009. Millions of people gathered at thousands of events all over the world, demanding that governments and corporations work to slash CO emissions and enforce environmental protections.

An “Earth ball” at a rally in Istanbul, Turkey, with the figure 350 — signifying the safe upper limit in parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere.

An “Earth ball” at a rally in Istanbul, Turkey, with the figure 350 — signifying the safe upper limit in parts per million of CO in the atmosphere. Source: Mustafa Ozer/AFP/Getty Images

As reported by Democracy Now!, International Day of Climate Action Marked in 181 Nations:

Activists across the globe rallied on Saturday to call on world leaders to take strong measures at the upcoming climate talks in Copenhagen. In an international day of action, people in 181 nations organized more than 5,200 events. The main organizing group called Saturday the most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history. The events centered on the number 350. Scientists say 350 parts per million is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. We are currently at 387 parts per million. Around the shore of the Dead Sea, Israeli activists made a giant 3, Palestinians a huge 5, and Jordanians a 0. In the Maldives, protesters took part in an underwater protest to raise awareness of how rising sea levels might affect the island nation. In Ethiopia, some 15,000 people gathered in a massive rally on Friday calling for a strong international climate change treaty. Gopal Dayaneni of the Movement Generation spoke on Saturday at a rally in San Francisco:

The story of the solution to our problems begins with the communities on the ground, on the front lines of the root causes of this problem: the communities in Richmond who are fighting Chevron, the communities in Appalachia who are fighting coal, the communities in Alberta who are fighting tar sands, indigenous peoples all over this planet fighting to protect their forests and their livelihoods, fisherfolk all over this planet fighting industrial trolling. Those communities on the front lines of this struggle are the source of our solutions.

Greenpeace field organizer Lauren Thorpe also spoke in San Francisco:

We are going to have more hurricanes, more forest fires, and if we don’t do anything, the sea levels will actually rise. So this movement today is calling for those solutions to global warming that will prevent that from happening. And it’s a doable thing, but we have to act now, and we have to act fast. And we need the solutions that are at the actual scale of the problem, so we need strong, bold leadership from our president.

Just days before the International Climate Day of Action, former Anglican archbishop of South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Desmond Tutu, wrote an article for USA Today. As reported by, Tutu wrote, in part:

In South Africa, we showed that if we act on the side of justice, we have the power to turn tides. Worldwide, we have a chance to start turning the tide of climate change with just such a concerted effort today. Read more.

This event is included on the Zinn Education Project’s Climate Crisis Timeline.