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Historic climate strike just pulled the fire alarm

A tectonic shift in climate politics just happened. 

Millions of people mobilized to demand climate justice, a just transition, and a Green New Deal. The recent climate strike was the largest climate protest in history, with an estimated 7.6 million people participating on every continent around the world from September 20-27.

According to the Global Climate Strike website, there were 6135 actions in 185 countries, involving at least 73 trade unions (including many in Canada) and 820 organizations.

In Canada, on September 27 upwards of a million protested from coast to coast to coast including a staggering 500,000 in Montreal at a demonstration led by Indigenous peoples and joined by Greta Thunberg. 

I’ve been to many protests in Ottawa over the years and this was one of the largest I’ve ever seen here, with 20,000 people taking part. In many places these were some of if not the largest protests about anything ever, including Vancouver, Victoria, Ottawa, and Toronto where tens of thousands hit the streets. 

The physics of our climate emergency don’t negotiate, but the escalating climate strikes are changing the political math of what’s possible to address the crisis.

Studies show sustained and active mobilization from 3.5% of the population is what it takes to win systemic change. We’re getting there. However, our work is not yet done. 

One interesting proposal is for a global week of action in 2020 starting on Earth Day (April 22) and culminating on May Day (May 1), also known as International Workers’ Day. This could be a powerful way to deepen solidarity between the climate justice movement, the labour movement, and Indigenous peoples, a critically important partnership that we need to win a just transition for all workers, peoples, and communities.

But in the shorter term, we’re still in the midst of a federal election in Canada. We can and we must continue to keep the pressure on to ensure climate justice and a Green New Deal stay front and centre leading up to Election Day. You can download the Council of Canadians’ Voter’s Guide and climate-focussed election organizing kit to learn more and take action.

And then, after the election we need to be in the streets in even greater numbers than ever before. 

The house is on fire and we’ve now collectively pulled the fire alarm. Now we need to put it out. Last week we just demonstrated we can. For another world to be possible, we must become unstoppable.

Children at Climate RallyRally at legislature