Quebec makes national history for one of the country’s largest climate marches

Intro

All eyes were on Quebec City today as more than 25,000 people from across Canada assembled for the largest climate march in the city’s 15 years, and one of the largest in the country’s history. After tracing a route through the city’s downtown core, a sea of red-draped protesters who have “reached their boiling point” with the state of global temperatures and their leadership descended on Quebec’s Parliament Building demanding climate protection from their leaders, an end to tar sands and pipeline expansion, and a just transition towards renewable energy resources. First Nations, environmental groups, students, unions, families, health advocates, public figures and grassroots organizers from elsewhere in Canada came into the city on more than 100 buses. In solidarity with Quebec marchers, organizers put together events in Halifax, Calgary, Vancouver, and even south of the border in Maine. This historic rally comes just weeks after the deadline to submit national pledges to the UN climate process, with Canada positioning itself as the only country in North America dodging these commitments. With premiers from neighbouring provinces meeting in a few days to discuss climate and energy, and Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne expected to sign a cap-and-trade deal with Quebec this Monday, marchers are urging their provincial leaders louder than ever to pave the way for a national energy strategy that puts the health and safety of communities above tar sands and pipeline interests.

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RT @DefendClimate Things we love about this march: GIANT HUMAN THERMOMETER which looks as impressive as it sounds! #ActOnClimate

Key Points

  • The rest of the world is moving forward on climate, leaving Canada far behind. The US and the EU submitted their targets for upcoming climate meetings in Paris before the March 31 deadline, while Mexico is the first non-industrialized country to submit their national contributions to the UN negotiation process. China also committed to curb emissions last fall, while India plans on delivering an ambitious renewable energy plan. Leaders around the world are making their mark, and if growth continues at this pace, Canada’s legacy is on the line.
  • Climate change is an issue of social justice. Marginalized communities around the world are often the hardest hit by pollution and climate change. At the Act on Climate march, First Nations communities — who have suffered directly from the impacts of tar sands developments — were on the front lines of a solution during this national moment. Climate action has become a no-brainer: the science is unequivocal, the technology is available, and as a result public pressure is growing. People want clean air, better health, secure jobs, and an end to poverty. From local fights to global polls, the majority of people support bold action.
  • Canada has an opportunity to show the world that it cares about the climate by launching a serious national energy strategy. Thousands of people came together for this historical march, showing the popularity of acting on climate immediately before interprovincial meetings. If premieres and federal leaders commit to halting pipelines, tar sands production and other fossil fuel growth, Canada’s leaders have the opportunity to show that they are listening to the people they represent and can take action to reverse their country’s reputation as a climate laggard.

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Key Quotes

  • “The economic reality of a low carbon world is here. We have wind and solar economically viable in most jurisdictions; businesses are making millions of dollars selling these technologies today. It has been accepted practice over the last 10 years for the Canadian government to promote the tar sands, but politicians will have to take a side. They can’t say something here and something else there. They’re going to have to choose in terms of what kind of country they want.” – Équiterre director Sidney Ribaux
  • “Resistance by First Nations to the Energy East project is growing by the day. The more our peoples learn about the Energy East project, including the risks of toxic dilbit spills, the project’s contribution to catastrophic climate change, how the tar sands have ravaged the lands, waters, air and health of our indigenous brothers and sisters, and especially how brave and unified First Nations out West have beaten back their own pipelines, the more our peoples are saying that they do not want the project and will fight to stop it. First Nations are not against all forms of development but they are certainly against irresponsible forms of development like tar sands expansion, which jeopardizes the future of both indigenous and non-indigenous peoples alike.” – Grand Chief Serge ‘Otsi’ Simon of the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake
  • “Today’s march is undeniable proof that people in Quebec and across Canada want meaningful action on climate change[…] Our political leaders must accept this responsibility, put in place ambitious measures to combat climate change and keep tar sands pressure out of provincial climate talks.” – Christian Simard, General Director of Nature Québec
  • “While our prime minister continues to impede real action on one of the largest and most urgent issues facing Canada and the world, people across this country are making it clear they want climate leadership […] Our provincial leaders must do what’s essential by supporting renewable energy and not tar sands pipelines.” – Joanna Kerr, executive director of Greenpeace Canada
  • “There is no way around it, Alberta’s tar sands are the greatest source of Canada’s emissions growth and cannot be counteracted in the short-term by reductions elsewhere because the growth would be just too big.” –  Adam Scott, climate and energy program manager at Environmental Defence

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  • MT @ricochet_en: Organizers have tabulated estimates from 80 observers/security to produce a final crowd estimate: over 25,000 #ActOnClimate
  • RT @s_guilbeault That’s what a human thermometer with 25 000 people asking our leaders to act on climate looks like! #ActOnClimate