Tonight, activists will officially launch the local chapter of the climate-change organization 350.org
, with the goal of building a network of concerned citizens and "elevating the question of climate disruption within the consciousness of the decision-makers."
"It started with a small number of people who were actually on the buses that went to the climate march in NYC in September of 2014," says Peter Wray, a Pittsburgh350
steering-committee member "We decided we should form a small climate-action network in Pittsburgh."
Wray helped organize buses for Sierra Club and Thomas Merton Center members to attend the People's Climate March last September. Students from Carnegie Mellon University and the Service Employees International Union also joined the trip. Other organizations from Pittsburgh also organized their own buses, and Wray says there ended up being more than 100 people from Pittsburgh at the march.
Wray says Pittsburgh350 will be an informal network — no official office or staff — of environmental organizations, labor unions and faith-based groups to share events that address the impacts of climate change.
"What we hope to do now is to, through various means, educate people about climate change through simple things like letters to the editors, a speakers' series, but also directly address climate change by supporting campaigns for divestment of endowments or pension funds away from fossil fuels," Wray says. "Another approach is a carbon tax, and that of course is through congress and our local congressmen."
Wray also cited a fuel switch for Port Authority buses to compressed natural gas
and the speed-limit increase
on the Pennsylvania turnpike as issues the local chapter would take up.
"We feel that our officials are just not yet attuned to doing a check on whether decisions they’re making meet the requirements for reducing the impact of climate change," Wray says.
The kick-off at 7 p.m. at the Kingsley Association, in East Liberty, is expected to draw nearly 100 people.