When the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change starts in Bonn, Germany tomorrow, the Kootenays’ own Montana Burgess will be there hoping to influence the proceedings with her work through the Climate Action Network.
Burgess has been traveling to Germany routinely to do this work for the last seven years, and has grown accustomed to living along the Rhine while working daily to influence climate talks through media statements, daily newsletters and even theatrical performances.
“We do an action called ‘fossil of the day’ where we perform a theatrical, satirical presentation of the country that performed the worst that day,” Burgess told the Star.
“We’re highlighting inaction.”
During the convention, the international community will be working on the Durban Platform, an international agreement between 195 countries that aims to reach a new climate treaty by the end of 2015.
Burgess said being present for the proceedings is not only an opportunity to influence the process, but also an educational experience she can share with the Nelson community.
Having recently taken the position of community organizer for the West Kootenay Ecosociety, Burgess has been a vocal and prominent force in Nelson—marching front and centre in a recent climate parade, giving speeches in front of city hall, and working to raise awareness about the dangers of extractive industries and climate disruption.
And according to her, Canada is among those countries that aren’t doing enough. Her hope is to work towards electing a government that will.
“We have a tremendous opportunity here in the West Kootenay to do work around the federal election this year. The first step is making sure we don’t elect the Conservatives, because they have a terrible track record on climate.”
Burgess called the current government’s environmental efforts “pathetic”.
“They just released their intended international contributions report and it was shocking. Worse than Kyoto. And they have no plan to implement it.”
Burgess believes that since 2011, when Time Magazine named “The Protester” Person of the Year, there has been an international movement towards populations “taking back their power in ways we haven’t seen in a long time.”
“I think Occupy laid the groundwork for people to become community organizers and to do work on climate justice, mobilizing people with shared progressive values.”
She was especially thrilled to learn the Pope plans to release an encyclical on climate change.
“People are pretty pumped. It’s so inspiring to me because it’s an old institution and if he’s saying it’s time to take action, then that’s going to inspire so many people around the world and it will be a direct message to his bishops to do something.”
She believes that will have worldwide ripple effects that will reach Kootenay Lake.
“I think it’s an opportunity to build our people power in the Kootenays through our churches.”
And though the climate situation may look bleak, she believes there is still hope to effect change.
“The science says we still have hope, but we have to do something now. The way I think about it is you’re either part of the solution or you’re with the climate-deniers and you’re part of the problem. We should be clean and renewable energy leaders in Canada, and we can be. Let’s make our politicians do that work.”