Kootenay activist Montana Burgess traveled to Bonn, Germany in June to be a part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and she’s returned feeling inspired and tentatively hopeful.
“These intercessionals are not quite as dramatic, because often you don’t have the higher-powered decision makers in the room,” said Burgess. “But some really interesting things happened, including all countries committed to making emission reduction pledges.”
She said Canada’s weak historical track record on climate disruption—failing to adhere to their Kyoto promises, for instance—doesn’t mean there can’t be meaningful action in the future.
“The pledge is to reduce our emissions by 2030 by 30 per cent from 2005 levels…okay, it’s a commitment. But frankly it’s not very good based on science and historical responsibility. When you do the math, reducing by 30 per cent by 2030 is about a 1.5 reduction from our Kyoto commitment, which we haven’t even met.”
She remains skeptical.
“They don’t even have a plan to implement it.”
During the conference the G7 met—the U.K., U.S., Canada, Italy, Japan, Germany and France—and pledged to eliminate fossil fuels by the end of the century.
“But the end of the century is way too long. Science says we need to be more ambitious,” she said.
All of this is building up to the UN climate talks in Paris later this year. Burgess believes the Bonn meeting has set the tone.
“I’m very hopeful and the reason is I think we’re going to get a deal coming out of Paris. It won’t be what we need to stop climate change, but it will signal an end to the fossil fuel era.”
Meanwhile, Burgess has returned to the Kootenays, where she spearheaded a cross-community faith-based event expressing solidarity with Pope Francis’ recently released encyclical Laudato Si.
“This is a really positive moment for climate action, now that the G7 has sent this message and the Pope has come out in support. We’re doing lots of stuff locally to keep the ball rolling,” she said.
Burgess now has her gaze fixed on the upcoming federal election. She’s working to support MPs who will commit to taking action on climate disruption.
“Folks should look for themselves at the candidates and their track records on the climate, on social justice and democracy, and then we can think about how we’ll elect someone who will take real climate action,” she said.