Environmentalists are turning up heat on Canadian politicians heading to
a Dec. 6 climate change conference in Copenhagen — by targeting moms.
The new campaign, Moms Against Climate Change, features a gut-punching
staged video, filmed in Toronto.
It shows masses of youngsters protesting against climate change, beaten
back by burly baton-wielding riot police.
It also features a website (takeactiononclimatechange.com), inviting
parents to post their kids’ photos on a virtual wall, asking: “If our
children knew the facts we do, they’d take action. Shouldn’t you?”
Once the climate change conference gets under way in two weeks, the
activists intend to project the photo images on walls near the
Copenhagen proceedings and Parliament Hill.
The environmentalists are aiming to hit hearts more than heads, while
sending a message that it’s kids who stand to suffer most from climate
The campaign is being coordinated by Ontario-based Environmental Defence
Canada and Forest Ethics, which operates on both sides of the border.
A key part of their climate change message, of course, relates to the
Alberta oil sands which significantly boosts Canada’s greenhouse-gas
In a separate thrust last summer, Forest Ethics sent letters to more
than 100 Fortune 500 companies, warning any use of tar sands fuel “puts
their brands at risk.”
In a follow-up press release six weeks ago, the group warned: “A public
campaign could be launched against any company that does not act to
eliminate from their operations high carbon fuels such as those from the
tar sands.”
The press release names 12 of the companies that so far have refused to
engage in discussions, including corporate giants like HJ Heinz,
Hershey’s, Coca-Cola and Kraft Foods.
Forest Ethics wants companies to ensure their transportation fuels don’t
derive from tar sands oil.
“In early 2010,” it advises, “we will begin educating the employees,
executives, shareholders and customers of companies like yours.
“And while we are resolved to work together with those that demonstrate
leadership on this issue, we intend to launch a public campaign focused
on companies that do not act responsibly.”
Forest Ethics climate director Merran Smith, based in Vancouver, last
week told me that her group will use strategies that worked to protect
B.C.’s old-growth forests to try to halt U.S. consumption of oil from
the tar sands.
Her group has little sympathy for the economic arguments being rallied
against a freeze on oil sands production.
While it’s true, Alberta’s oil sands boosts Canada’s GDP and Alberta’s
prosperity, Forest Ethics says the climate change implications of the
development leave Ottawa no choice but to help Alberta transition away
from production. Adaptation costs will only grow through delay.
A recent report by the Pembina Institute and David Suzuki Foundation
confirmed, most of the pain of curtailing Canada’s GHG emissions will be
borne by Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Smith argues that Ottawa is proficient at helping provinces that are
facing economic dislocation.
She cited federal funding for Newfoundland’s cod fishers and B.C.’s
forest sector when it was hit by a pine beetle infestation, a blight
enabled by climate change.
“Let’s say Alberta produced asbestos,” Smith posited, “would we keep
producing it because we didn’t want to transition to something healthier?”
The scary answer to that question is that Quebec continues to produce
and export asbestos, a product strongly associated with a form of lung
cancer. Which underscores how difficult the tar sands debate really is.