The Climate Justice 2019 Conference was organized in an attempt to bring people together to discuss the many emerging and dynamic aspects of the climate justice movement both locally and internationally – and start to work towards and more unified and strategic response to the climate. In the days leading up to the conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared a “national climate emergency” and re-approved the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion in an incredible display of hypocrisy. This added a sense of urgency to the many discussions which took place.
Organized by Climate Convergence Vancouver, the conference was a big success. Over 175 people participated in more than eight hours of keynote presentations, workshops and discussions. The room was diverse in background and experience – with many participating the entire day.
Tamara Lorincz - Co-founder of the East Coast Environmental Law Association and Board Members of Canadian Voice of Women for Peace opened with a special presentation, “What's War Got to Do with It? Militarization, War & the Climate Crisis?” She made a convincing argument that not only are imperialist war-makers the largest polluters, but that vast billions of dollars spent on weapons and war every year could easily fund all of the green energy and social programs we are so often told are too expensive to be realistic.
Cecilia Point of the Musqueam Nation also gave a Territorial Acknowledgement – emphasizing the history of the unceded Indigenous land which the conference was taking place on – and the importance of unity moving forward to confront the climate crisis and ongoing violations of Indigenous rights by the Canadian government.
The room was full when David Barsamian, author of over 25 books and director of Alternative Radio gave his feature presentation, “What do You Mean System Change Not Climate Change?” Barsamian, who has worked closely with Noam Chomsky, Edward Said and Arundhati Roy, detailed how capitalism created the current world crisis and is completely unable to solve it. “Luckily for us, capitalism is a system created by humans, which means humans can also dismantle it.”
He was followed by Climate Convergence organizers Alison Bodine and Brenna Rosen co-presenting a panel on, “The Climate Justice Movement - How Far We Have Come.” They gave many examples of past movements, from Bolivia to Clayoquot Sound in British Columbia – pulling lessons from both their successes and challenges. The breakout discussions after the presentation focused on how we could apply those lessons to our current organizing.
Arnie Jack of the Shuswap Nation made a special appearance to explain the process and history of Indigenous Nations fighting for their land and rights in British Columbia. He emphasized especially the role non-Indigenous people also need to play, "We need a mass mobilization at the Burnaby Mountain Tank Farm.”
The Conference presentations closed with Climate Convergence founding member Thomas Davies discussing, “Climate Convergence: Our Struggle, Our Perspective”. He focused on the evolution of Climate Convergence as a grassroots climate justice organization playing a significant role in the local movement against the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion, as well as the incredible potential of the climate justice movement not just to stop specific projects, but move towards building a just and sustainable world.
The conference was an important step towards the important goal of building and broadening not only the numbers of people involved in the climate justice movement but our collective understanding of how to confront the crucial work which remains. Check www.climateconvergence.ca for the many ongoing actions and events!
Follow Thomas Davies on Twitter: @thomasdavies59
Back to Article Listing