The purpose of the rally was threefold:
- to show President Obama just how large and passionate and urgent the climate change movement has become
- to urge the President to stop the Keystone XL pipeline
- to get the President to set carbon limits for power plants
The rally officially began at noon. Speakers included:
- Michael Brune; Sierra Club Executive Director
- Bill McKibben; 350.org President, Scholar at Middlebury College
- Van Jones; Rebuild the Dream President, NYT Best-Selling Author
- U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse; Rhode Island
- Maria T. Cardona; Latinovations Founder, Dewey Square Group Principal
- The Rev. Lennox Yearwood; Hip Hop Caucus President and CEO
- Chief Jacqueline Thomas; Saik'uz First Nation
- Crystal Lameman; Beaver Lake Cree First Nations
Michael Brune stated, "Tar sands oil is the most toxic fossil fuel on the planet. It leaves in its wake scarred landscapes and a web of pipelines and polluting refineries all the while delaying our transition to a clean energy economy."
Bill McKibben followed, "I cannot promise you we’re going to win, but I’ve waited a quarter century to find out if we were gonna fight. And today, at the biggest climate rally by far, by far, by far, in U.S. history — today, I know we’re going to fight.”
Van Jones' sentiment was repeated throughout the rally, "I think if you look at the status quo, the big polluters tend to win these fights. They’ve got the big money. They’ve got the big lobbyists and they tend to win these fights. And that’s why the people have to come out."
Senator Whitehouse agreed, "It sends a message to Congress that we’re here, we care and this is an issue that matters. And it sends a message to the president to be strong and we’ll have your back."
The rally then left the Mall and 40,000 strong marched to the White House.