While approximately 300 of her fellow Nelsonites were marching down Baker Street, climate activist Laura Sacks was in New York City at one of the largest climate change protests in history.
More than 400,000 people turned out for the march on September 21, which was days before leaders debated environmental action at the United Nations climate summit. Sacks said she was thrilled to participate in the global day of action, which included high-profile environmentalists including Bill McKibben, Leonardo Dicaprio and Jane Goodall.
“I came back energized and optimistic that we can make a difference. People can stand up, direct and lead our politicians and other people making decisions about our future,” said Sacks.
“Sometimes looking at the whole climate issue can be pretty despairing. You think ‘what can I do?’ You may have changed your light bulb a decade ago and you might walk to work, but it’s the system that has to change. And we need policy on the ground to actually help us change the system.”
Sacks is a volunteer member of Citizen’s Climate Lobby. She founded the Nelson chapter this year. The organization, which originated in the U.S., has over 7000 volunteers in North America and 40 active chapters in Canada.
The organization is currently advocating for a carbon fee and dividend system that could win bi-partisan support.
The way she envisions it, revenue from the carbon tax would return to residents and homeowners.
“There’s no silver bullet, but this is the closest thing we have,” she said. “The writing would be on the wall for businesses that the money will go back to the people, and we can use that money to invest in energy alternatives.”
Sacks said it will take average citizens like herself getting involved if Canadians have any hope to see a major change in climate change policy.
“We are supposed to be what the government is made up of. We’re not just lobbying our politicians, we’re trying to empower people to get involved in the political process.”
Sacks said the New York march was exhausting, but fun. The parade was originally scheduled to begin at 11 a.m., but didn’t get started until 2:00 and didn’t reach the route along Colombus Circle until mid-afternoon.
“Towards the end we were feeling pretty tired. I was marching with my brother next to this great brass band, and people on the sides of the streets were dancing. We were just boogying along.”
Unfortunately, she didn’t see any celebrities.
“My Mom was asking about that. Did you see Leo? No, unfortunately.”
For more information on Citizens Climate Lobby, visit citizensclimatelobby.ca.