No New Pipelines in a Climate Emergency!
When public health and safety measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic were first introduced in March 2021, it became clear that climate justice actions would have to change as well. Mass rallies, consistent street actions, and in-person public educational meetings have not been regularly possible over the past two years. However, for Climate Convergence, a grassroots climate justice organization in the Metro Vancouver region of British Columbia, this did not stop the consistent and creative actions.
Through large-scale postering campaigns, online “Webinar” public events, and physically distanced rallies and banner drops, Climate Convergence has continued working to build a more united and stronger movement for climate justice, Indigenous rights, and a just, sustainable world.
These actions have brought together people and organizations from BC, across Canada, and worldwide. They have also covered a range of local and international struggles, with the understanding that the defeat of a climate destroying project anywhere is a victory for all poor, working, and oppressed people everywhere.
STOP TMX! No CGL!
As the climate catastrophe escalates – both the federal Liberal government and the NDP government of BC continue to support the reckless construction of the Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) and Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipelines.
On February 18, 2022, the Trudeau Liberal government announced that the Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) pipeline cost jumped from an estimate of $12.6 billion to the outrageous price tag of $21.4 billion. This is a 70% increase in the estimated costs for this environmentally disastrous pipeline –spending that will continue to fall on the shoulders of people in Canada. All this money could be spent on healthcare, education, housing, and social justice, not climate destroying pipelines.
Meanwhile, the BC NDP government is pushing ahead with the reckless construction of the Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline. The Coastal GasLink pipeline is a fracked natural gas pipeline planned to run 670km from near Dawson Creek, BC, to a new liquified natural gas export facility on the BC coast in Kitimat. Fracking gas is devastating to both the environment and human health, which is why the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs, whose traditional territory the pipeline is planned to cross, continue to oppose the pipeline.
Wet’suwet’en land defenders and allies face violence and persecution as they defend their traditional territories. In November 2021, 27 land defenders were brutally arrested during peaceful actions against the CGL pipeline. They continue to face charges.
Climate Convergence has been working with other grassroots and community groups throughout the pandemic to find creative and effective ways to oppose the TMX and CGL pipelines.
This has included a consistent campaign of banner drops and bright light sign displays focusing on the demands of “Don’t Drill Burnaby Mountain,” “No TMX & CGL Pipelines!” and “Drop All Charges Against Climate Activists and Land Defenders!” The actions over roads and highways, or at busy intersections, receive continuous and enthusiastic support from people passing by, showing that there are many people we can bring into the movement against the climate destroying TMX and CGL pipelines.
Activists Fight Back Against Police Attack on Peaceful Climate Rally
On November 12, 2021, Climate Convergence initiated a “United for Climate Justice” rally and march to mark the COP26 United Nations climate summit's final day in Glasgow, Scotland. This action was co-organized by Climate Convergence, the Sustainabiliteens, Mountain Protectors, Protect the Planet Stop TMX, 350 Vancouver, Fridays for Future Vancouver, BROKE, Greenfaith, and the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty BC.
That day, over 250 people gathered in downtown Vancouver, filling the plaza in front of Environment and Climate Change Canada with beautiful banners and signs with strong climate justice messages. Participants in the action chanted together during a dynamic program chaired by Climate Convergence organizers Alison Bodine and Hanieh Shakeri, which featured speakers including Cedar George-Parker of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation; T’uy’t’tanat-Cease Wyss of Squamish, Stolo, and Hawaiian descent; parents and toddlers from Babies for Climate Action and hip-hop artist Estea Elements.
However, this peaceful gathering was severely disrupted when the Vancouver Police (VPD) forcibly arrested three young climate justice activists right as the march through the streets of downtown Vancouver was about to begin. These young people were participating in a ceremony where they used washable red paint to leave handprints on the building housing the department of Environment and Climate Change Canada.
Because of these unjust and violent arrests, the planned march to the CBC was then turned into a spirited solidarity march to the VPD station, where the young climate activists had been taken. Along the way, there was chanting, drumming, and more speakers, including Jolene Andrew of the Wet’suwet’en & Gitxsan Nations, who spoke about the continued fight against the Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline.
A rally continued in the street in front of the police station for two hours – until all three of the young people arrested were successfully released. This was a great victory for everyone that gathered that day. However, the struggle continues to ensure that all charges against them are dropped.
Climate Convergence has continued to demand that all charges are dropped against these three young activists and all land defenders and peaceful climate justice protestors.
Online Actions Unite People Locally and Internationally for Climate Justice
The climate justice movement must not only focus on one important struggle, one province, or even one country to be effective. The climate crisis is international, so the struggle against it must be global. In 2021, Climate Convergence organized 10 webinars that mobilized support online against the climate emergency internationally, in solidarity with Indigenous land defenders and climate justice activists around the world.
This included a successful webinar held following the COP26 United Nations climate conference in November 2021 called “After COP26 - What is Next?” This webinar brought together Métis activist Erin Blondeau, Communications Coordinator at Indigenous Climate Action and a delegate to COP26; anti-war activist and organizer Tamara Lorincz, who was in Glasgow during COP26 organizing to challenge military spending and emissions; Abby Herd, a Simon Fraser University (SFU) student and organizer with SFU350; Hanieh Shakeri, a member of SFU350 and Climate Convergence, and is on the Solidarity and Social Justice Committee of the TSSU (Teaching Support Staff Union of SFU); D’Arcy Briggs, an organizer with Climate Justice Victoria and Climate Convergence central organizer Alison Bodine.
The February 9th, 2022, “Fighting to Stop Oil & Gas Pipelines and Start Building a Better World!” webinar was an opportunity to hear important updates and ways to support the ongoing struggles against the TMX, CGL, and Line 3 pipelines from organizers and land defenders on the frontlines. This included: Sleydo' (Molly Wickham), Gidimt’en Checkpoint Spokesperson and key leader in the Wet'suwet'en fight against the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline; Brandi Morin, award-winning Cree/Iroquois/French journalist from Treaty 6 territory in Alberta; April Thomas, spokesperson for the “Secwepemc Say No TMX” defendants currently representing themselves in court for peacefully resisting TMX pipeline construction on their traditional territories; members of Climate Justice Committee – Minnesota, active participants in the fight to Stop the Line 3 Pipeline; and Thomas Davies, Climate Convergence founding member and author of “System Change Not Climate Change!” (Battle of Ideas Press).
As with the webinar following COP26, this webinar raised the important discussion about how to build a more united and stronger climate justice movement with a vision for a just and sustainable world. Climate Convergence was also able to fundraise over $1100 for the Gitxsan Land Defenders Legal Fund, to support the legal costs of defending the unceded traditional territories of the Wet’suwet’en from being encroached upon by the Coastal GasLink Pipeline.
System Change, Not Climate Change!
The disastrous response of big business and capitalist-imperialist governments to the growing climate crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic has led people around the world to question the “status quo” when it comes to the “profit before people” capitalist system that we live under.
In addition to building the ongoing struggle to defeat the TMX and CGL pipelines, now is a critical time for building a mass anti-capitalist movement in defense of mother earth to demand “System Change, Not Climate Change!” The growing climate crisis should not make us depressed or disheartened; it is instead a call to take action and work together to build the better world that we know is possible!
Climate Convergence meets online every two weeks to discuss important developments in the struggle for climate justice and Indigenous rights locally and internationally and plan for upcoming events and actions. To find out how to get involved, visit: www.climateconvergence.ca
Follow Alison on Twitter: @Alisoncolette
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