Participants gather on the Third Avenue Bridge in downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa, during the RISE for Climate Action on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

CEDAR RAPIDS – Nearly 200 people joined together in Greene Square Park on Saturday, Sept. 15, as part of an international effort to address climate change.

The RISE for Climate Change action was one of 900 events held internationally  to raise awareness of the Global Climate Action Summit happening in California.

Speakers emphasized the importance of voting in the midterm elections this November, and researching candidates’ stances on renewable energy and other issues related to climate change.

Related: Book review, America’s Climate Century

Children colored posters during the event in Greene Square Park. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

David Osterberg of the Iowa Policy Project noted that Iowa has a rich history in renewable energy and energy efficiency, but recent legislation drastically cuts the energy efficiency requirements by investor-owned utilities. The solar tax credit also is threatened, he said.

Utilities also are trying to weaken net metering, which allows customers with solar panels to run a meter backward when solar energy is at its peak, producing more electricity than the property uses.

“They don’t like you having solar on your homes,” Osterberg said. “They’re trying to get rid of it.”

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Participants also registered to vote, learned about electric vehicles and other ways to decrease their carbon footprint before marching to the Cedar River for a blessing of the water.

Event partners included: IOWA 350, Sierra Club, IRENEW, Prairiewoods, League of Women Voters, United Nations-Linn, Green Iowa AmeriCorps, Linn County Public Health, Veterans for Peace, Inter-Religious Council of Linn County, The Create Exchange, Interfaith Power & Light, Kennedy HS Electric Car, NextGen, Trees Forever, Alliant Energy, Feed Iowa First and the Iowa Policy Project.

See photos from a demonstration of vice president Mike Pence’s visit to Cedar Rapids earlier this year and more images from today’s event, below: