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Canadians Care for Climate Change

Canadians gather across the country taking place in more than 300 climate change demonstrations.

by Aethne Hinchliffe

An oil barrel is displayed facing Aberdeen Road in Bridgewater in front of MP Gerald Keddy's office.
An oil barrel is displayed facing Aberdeen Road in Bridgewater in front of MP Gerald Keddy's office.
Volunteers help string up a 'Climate Action Now' banner.
Volunteers help string up a 'Climate Action Now' banner.

“Emissions here, emissions there, emissions every day!  The tories know that one day soon the earth will have to pay.  Hey!” sang a group of protestors to the tune of Jingle Bells. 

On Tuesday, December 15, a crowd gathered in front of Member of Parliament Gerald Keddy’s office in Bridgewater for “Time for an Oil Change 2.”  This was one of many events that happened in and around Halifax during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen Denmark.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference kicked off on December 7, and so too did Halifax’s climate change events.

A large barrel of oil was rolled to the front of Member of Parliament Peter MacKay’s Halifax office on the first day of the UN conference.  The action was called “Time for an Oil Change” and was organized by the Ecology Action Centre (EAC).  

From December 11 to 14, concerned Haligonians protested in front of local Member of Parliaments’ offices, such as Mike Savage and Geoff Regan.  Both Savage and Regan voted to delay Bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Bill.  Bill C-311 commits Canada to reducing its greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions to at least 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is calling on countries to cut ghg emissions by 25 to 40 per cent below 1990 levels to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Another group organizing events is the Sierra Club’s Atlantic chapter, of which Gretchen Fitzgerald is the Executive Director.  On December 14, Santa’s elves tried to convince local Members of Parliament to save the North Pole by asking them to support Bill C-311, a stunt organized by the Sierra Club.

Nova Scotia has the highest emissions per capita in the country.  “We burn coal for electricity, which is a huge source of greenhouse gas emissions,” explains Fitzgerald.  Further, Nova Scotia power is one of the top five industrial powers in the country, says Fitzgerald. 

Cheryl Ratchford, energy co-ordinator at EAC spoke with Members of Parliament in Ottawa before the conference and tried to convince them of the importance of Bill C-311.  According to the Members of Parliament she spoke with, Canadians do not vote based on a politician’s stance on climate change, thus many decided to vote against the Bill.

But climate actions that have been taking place across the country seem to tell another story.  More than 300 events have taken place in cities across the country, including an occupation of Prime Minister Harper’s office, demanding that he take "aggressive action on climate change before the end of the Copenhagen conference or resign as the Prime Minister of Canada."

While people throughout Canada took to the streets to shout, march, sing and light candles for climate change, approximately 15,000 were expected in Copenhagen, including climate negotiators and political leaders from 192 countries.  Canadians and many others are disappointed by Canada’s role in the conference, including a leaked document revealing the Conservatives’ plan to exempt the Alberta Tar Sands from greenhouse gas reduction targets.

Nova Scotian Yuill Herbert, Director of Sustainability Solutions Group, was one of many Canadians who went to the conference.  Herbert became interested in environmental issues through spending a lot of time in the forest and watching forests be destroyed. 

“It is massive in every sense – in the number of people, the number of countries being represented, the number of organizations participating, the size of the negotiating rooms, the immensity of the task,” says Herbert about his impressions of the conference.

“Tuvalu and the group of developing countries have played a critical role in standing up to the large countries and putting a legal agreement back on the table,” says Herbert in describing one of the most interesting things that has happened at the conference. 

Tuvalu is the smallest nation on earth, 26 square miles of low-lying land that is being threatened by the rising tides of climate change.  As the UK’s Telegraph reported December 12 “Tuvalu delegate rose twice on successive days, on Wednesday and Thursday, and caused proceedings to be suspended in both of the two main negotiating processes in Copenhagen's cavernous concrete Bella centre.”

With Copenhagen conference ending in just a few days, Yuill will return to Nova Scotia where he plans to “tell them [citizens] about Tavalu and illustrate the truly inadequate approach being used by Harper.” 

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Topics: Environment
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Is there a reason for the 3 different spellings when referring to Tuvalu? If not, there needs to be a little bit of editing done. It must've just slipped through! 

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