British Columbians are bracing for yet another hot and dry summer, following two summers of record wildfires and smoke. In spite of decades of targets and treaties, climate polluting emissions have still not declined globally, nationally, or provincially. The IPCC warned in its report last fall that we need to cut global emissions in half in the next decade or we will hit irreversible tipping points in our climate system.
This news could lead to despair, but not for eight locals who travelled on their own dime to Victoria last month to lobby for climate solutions. They were joined by others from across B.C. to meet with MLAs to gauge their understanding of the climate crisis, and to offer some solutions.
Volunteers from Citizens’ Climate Lobby met with 26 MLAs including George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, and local MLA Michelle Mungall, Minister of Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resources. They hosted meetings with NDP, Liberal and Green Party caucuses and met with the executive director of the BC Climate Action Secretariat.
People like local Uphill Bakery owner David Beringer took time away from his business to go on the lobbying trip because of the urgency he feels about climate change.
Fellow climate lobbyist Judy Betts said, “It was the birth of my first grandchild that prompted me to find the courage to ask our MLAs to take action.”
“Organizing volunteers from across B.C. to converge on Victoria and speak with one voice on climate action is a big task, but it’s important that we show up,” said volunteer Judy O’Leary who co-leads CCL-BC with Laura Sacks. “The oil and gas lobbyists are there pressuring them all the time, so we need to remind our elected officials about the power of constituents’ voices.”
At the meeting with Mungall, they thanked her for her government’s work on CleanBC, and then presented a local petition and an open letter. The ask is for financial supports to be shifted from developing fracked gas and a new LNG industry to communities to help with the costs of reducing emissions and adapting to climate impacts. The petition was signed by hundreds of community members and the open letter was signed by the City of Nelson, Village of Kaslo, and various community groups, businesses and faith organizations.
Since that meeting, the RDCK, who had earlier declared a climate action imperative, also signed the letter at their board meeting on May 16. The Village of Salmo signed on May 28.
Inspired by Greta Thunberg and the Fridays for Future movement, youth across the world are conducting school strikes for the climate — including hundreds in Nelson — demanding that everything possible be done to address the climate crisis. Most recently students at L.V. Rogers Secondary conducted a 24-hour sit in for climate action.
“It is time for all levels of government to listen to the people and align policies so we can rapidly reduce emissions,” said Sacks. “More of of us need to speak to our politicians about the urgency of the climate crisis. The time to step up is now.”