By: Raveena Aulakh Environment, Published on Thu Sep 18 2014
More than 1,000 Canadians from across the country are heading to New York City to participate in the People’s Climate March on Sunday, billed as the largest and the most diverse climate change mobilization in history.
“This is really important because we need to show momentum going into the Paris (climate) negotiations in 2015,” said Tim Gray, executive director of Environmental Defence. “We need a global agreement to come out of that round in Paris.”
The march will also indicate to leaders such as U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper that “tens of thousands of people will come together, they will collaborate with others so that the Paris talks are successful,” said Gray.
Organized by more than a dozen environmental, labour and social justice organizations, over 150,000 people are expected to march.
They will start at about 11:30 a.m. Sunday at Columbus Circle and finish at 11th Ave. and West 34th St. It is not clear how long the almost-four-kilometre walk will take, but it will end with a block party in the evening.
The march comes as leaders from more than 120 countries prepare to attend a United Nations Climate Summit on Tuesday to announce initiatives meant to move the world toward limiting global warming.
The U.N. summit aims to get leaders to promise action on emission cuts that could be part of a global agreement to be approved at the U.N. climate talks in Paris in 2015.
Climate change and its ramifications will definitely take centre stage in New York next week, said Cam Fenton of 350.org.
“It is all very exciting,” he said in a phone interview from New York, adding people from all over the world would be attending.
In Canada, buses will take people from Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Kingston and Halifax. “Basically anyone concerned about the biggest threat of the times: climate change,” said Fenton.
Mobilizing people in Canada has been a collaborative effort, with leading green groups such as Environmental Defence, the David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund participating.
Environmental Defence is also organizing a panel discussion in Manhattan on Tuesday with Quebec-based Équiterre and the National Resources Defense Council to discuss how to take advantage of emerging clean economies. Glen Murray, Ontario’s environment minister, will talk about the province’s plan to reduce carbon emissions, said Gray.
This is especially important for Canada, Gray said.
“Canada is becoming a global laggard … we have the same CO2 reduction goals as the U.S.: 17 per cent reduction by 2020,” he pointed out.
The U.S. has a plan to get there. “But Canada is not moving on its biggest polluter … the oil and gas industry. We are concerned that Canada is not reducing emissions at the national level and that we are not investing in clean technology as the U.S. is.”
(In 2009, Canada committed to reduce emissions by 17 per cent from 2005 levels as part of the Copenhagen agreement but is on track miss the target.)
Canada, in fact, is expected to miss even its own internal operational goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
It just won’t be leaders of green groups in Canada who will march on Sunday. Others who aren’t activists but care about the environment and the impact of climate change will also be there.
“I want to be there because I don’t just see it as an environmental issue,” said Tim Nash, a sustainable economist at Sheridan College. “This is a social issue and it is an economic one, too, that will have an impact on the economy if we don’t do something very soon.”
The march, he said, will be a way to tell politicians and decision-makers that people want immediate action on climate change.