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Council chapter activists at ‘climate welcome’ in Ottawa


Hamilton chapter activist Lora Picchi and London chapter activist Dimitri Lascaris at yesterday’s ‘climate welcome’ gathering.

Two activists from the Council of Canadians London and Hamilton chapters risked arrest yesterday in a peaceful direct action in front of Rideau Hall to encourage Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to receive a stack of reports highlighting the urgent need to take action on climate change without delay.

The Ottawa Citizen reports, “A group of about 40 environmental activists who staged a sit-in outside the main gates at Rideau Hall went home optimistic Thursday after one of the prime minister’s assistants came out to speak with them. The group had been protesting to demand that Justin Trudeau freeze the expansion of Canada’s [tar sands] and head to the United Nations Conference on Climate Change on Nov. 30 with specific emissions reduction targets. …Pavan Sapra, an assistant to the prime minister, spoke with [350.org organizer Clayton] Thomas-Müller at the gates and accepted copies of scientific reports and treaties with indigenous groups that the demonstrators had brought as ‘welcome gifts’ for Trudeau.”

The Canadian Press adds, “The COP21 United Nations climate conference is scheduled from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 in the French capital, where the international community hopes to hammer out a binding, post-2020 agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change. Trudeau made a point of highlighting his new government’s more co-operative international stance on climate policy after he was sworn in Wednesday, and he’s invited all the provincial premiers as well as non-governmental organizations to Paris. But he’s refrained from setting targets for reducing greenhouse gases until he can put a plan together with the provinces.”

The Council of Canadians has signed the Leap manifesto which calls for “no new infrastructure projects that lock us into increased extraction decades into the future” and asserts that we could have a 100 per cent clean economy by 2050. Our hope is that Prime Minister Trudeau will endorse the 2050 target and reject the Energy East pipeline. That 1.1 million barrel per day pipeline, which is scheduled to be operational by 2020, would help spur up to 750,000 barrels per day of additional production from the tar sands when science is telling us that 85 per cent of the tar sands must remain in the ground to keep global warming below the 2 degrees Celsius upper limit.

Tomorrow, the ‘Climate Welcome’ will include gifts of water to the prime minister to remind him about the risk that is posed to waterways by climate change, tar sands expansion and pipelines. Ten Council of Canadians chapters have collected water samples for this day including our Saint John chapter. They drew water from the Bay of Fundy to highlight that the Energy East project – given its proposed 7.6 million barrel tank farm and massive marine terminal complex for export supertankers – poses a direct and unacceptable threat to their community and its surrounding waters.

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow will be in Paris at the COP21 summit to highlight the importance of water protection in relation to climate change and to encourage the prime minister to support an exclusion in the climate agreement to be negotiated there that would protect it from the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) challenges found in ‘free trade’ agreements.

Further reading
Barlow calls for protection from ISDS challenges in Paris climate agreement (Oct. 2, 2015 blog)
Barlow to intervene at the COP 21 climate summit in Paris-Le Bourget (Oct. 16, 2015 blog)