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Utah Joins People's Climate March

Utahns joined marchers around the world Saturday for what was called “The People’s Climate March.” They gathered outside Salt Lake City’s downtown library.

“We refuse to give up,” Piper Christian told the crowd.

Christian set the tone by telling how state lawmakers have rejected two, student-initiated climate measures this year. A seasoned climate activist even though she’s a high school junior, Christian said the march energized her.

“I think it has potential to be a major turning point,” she said. “All getting together and meeting in places like this, and gaining that morale and optimism that we can take this on, and it’s an amazing opportunity to network and realize that we can do amazing things together.”

Organizers estimated a crowd of about 1,500.

“I think we’re seeing a sort of movement of young people becoming involved with politics, me being one of them,” said Brendan Phillips, part of a team gathering signatures to qualify the Green Party to be on Utah ballots. “People are realizing they need to be involved if we want to save our planet.”

Speeches linked social justice, refugees and indigenous rights to the broader goal of protecting the world from carbon pollution.

Jim Westwater, who founded the Utah Valley Earth Forum a decade ago, credited climate skepticism in the Trump administration for inspiring such a big crowd.

“It is very encouraging,” he said, “to see young people standing up and express themselves and their concern for the future that our older generations are leading us in.”

The rally at Library Square ended with a march to the Governor’s Mansion.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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