On December 16, the United Nations (UN) Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP25 concluded in Madrid, Spain. As described by António Guterres, Secretary General of the UN, “the international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation & finance to tackle the climate crisis.”
However, this angering conclusion was to be expected. Multiple news and scientific reports have reported widely on how he world’s richest countries, including Canada, are far from reaching the 2015 UN Paris Agreement climate targets. These countries have the greatest resources to fight climate change at their disposal yet they are even further away from reaching what is required in order to keep the planet from warming above 1.5 degrees Celsius – what scientists around the world have agreed is a critical point in avoiding devastating and irreversible impacts on humanity from climate catastrophe (IPCC Report, 2018).
In contrast, the streets outside of COP25 were filled with 500,000 people marching for the climate solutions that humanity so urgently needs and Indigenous youth from Canada occupied the Canadian Embassy against the government of Canada’s approval of massive resource extraction projects. Actions protesting the empty words of COP25 were part of the growing international climate justice movement, first inspired by the struggle of young climate activist Greta Thunberg, that continues to bring millions of people out into the streets around the world.
From Vancouver, Canada, mobilizations in defense of mother earth continue to unite people from all different walks of life in the streets. Actions in December were especially focused on the critical demands to end the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion, the Coastal GasLink LNG pipeline, the Teck Mine in the Alberta Tar Sands and the construction of the Site-C Dam, as well as continued support for the important court cases of Indigenous nations defending their sovereignty and rights.
Climate Convergence – Metro Vancouver’s grassroots climate coalition continued to organize, co-organize and support these important demonstrations of resistance to the government of Canada and their policies that continue to put the interests of profit above those of people and the planet.
On November 30, local hip-hop community organizer Estea Elements organized the second edition of the “Music for Our Mother” fundraising series. The proceeds from this event, which featured a fantastic line-up of artists dedicating their talent and time, including Ndidi Cascade, Reuport Common, Obcdn Optimo & Mannemewho (CCT), Million Elements and Trevor Mills, wen to support the ongoing organizing of Climate Convergence.
With the expected government of Canada announcement about the approval of the massive Teck Frontier tar-sands mine looming, Climate Convergence and 350-Vancouver came together to organize a lively demonstration in downtown Vancouver. On December 6, activists denounced Teck, which paints itself as a “green” and “responsible” corporation - while at the same time trying to build a 292 square kilometre mine (that’s twice the size of Vancouver) that projected to operate for the next 40 years.
It is no surprise that the government of Canada is expected to give the project the green light despite the clear environmental devastation and trampling of Indigenous rights that this project imposes. By producing 260,000 barrels of bitumen a day, Teck Frontier will fill the capacity of TMX. The government of Canada spent $4.5 billion tax-payer dollars on the existing Trans Mountain pipeline and expansion project – so they have no choice but to approve the mine that they need to fill the pipeline.
That is one of the reasons why continued consistent and clear opposition to TMX is critical to stopping tar sands expansion. Therefore, when the CEO of Trans Mountain announced that pipe for the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion (TMX) project will be in the ground before Christmas day, Climate Convergence was quick to announce a street action demanding “No TMX Pipeline & Tar Sands Expansion!”
On December 18 activists joined at the busy intersection of Cambie Street and Broadway to denounce this hasty declaration with powerful chanting, information tabling, and bright lights signs demanding “No TMX Pipeline.” Despite four ongoing court challenges from Indigenous nations in the Federal Court of Appeal, 1200 outstanding permit applications in BC, the Federal government continues to push ahead with the TMX pipeline expansion - regardless of the devastating environmental impact and the massive waste of at least $20 billion tax-payer dollars. In fact, this action took place on the same day that organizations in BC, including the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) launched a new petition demanding that the government of Canada reveal the real costs of the TMX project. As stated by Chief Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Secretary treasurer of UBCIC during the press conference announcing the petition, the government of Canada has the obligation to reveal the costs of TMX, "so we can have a full discussion around the billions of public dollars spent on oil infrastructure during a time when Indigenous communities lack safe drinking water and critical work on reduction of carbon emissions is needed for a climate safe future."
Following the successful intersection action, there was a community potluck organized by Climate Convergence to give activists the opportunity to reflect on the victories and challenges of climate justice organizing in Vancouver. A diverse group organizations and individuals joined in, and the night was full of warm and encouraging exchanges looking forward into continued climate justice organizing in the new year.
Without continued organizing in opposition of projects such as TMX and the Teck Frontier tar-sands mine, these devastating projects would have already been built – and only continued united action in the streets, schools, and workplaces can stop them from being built once and for all. Whatever promises are made – whether by Prime Minister Trudeau in Ottawa, or by the world’s wealthiest countries at meetings of the United Nations, it is people organizing in the streets against the climate crisis that will win a future for humanity and a healthy planet to live on. To join Climate Convergence come to the next organizing meeting or event by checking www.climateconvergence.ca.
Follow Alison on Twitter: @alisoncolette
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