On Sept. 20 about 1,000 people, mostly children and teenagers, left their classrooms, gathered outside city hall, and marched downtown, demanding that Canadian governments and businesses provide international leadership in fighting climate change.
On the sidewalk outside city hall, kids chanted and waved signs at passing vehicles.
“If you don’t start acting like adults, we will!”
“We only have one Earth so don’t mess it up!”
The march was one of hundreds around the globe on the same day, the last day of Global Climate Strike Week, coinciding with Swedish activist Greta Thunberg’s trip to the UN Climate Action Summit in New York City.
The young members of the Fridays for the Future group in Nelson conducted several smaller versions of these vigils and marches throughout this year.
There were few if any climate strikes or marches organized by the over 25 crowd in Nelson, some of whom lashed out at the kids on the Nelson Star website and Facebook page, calling them naive and their (many) adult supporters hypocrites.
Meanwhile, according to the World Meteorological Association, 2019 ended the warmest decade on record and concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hit a record level of 407.8 parts per million in 2018 and continued to rise in 2019.
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that the speed of the loss of Greenland and Antarctic sea ice were unprecedented, the Arctic is warming at twice the speed of the rest of the globe, and melting Arctic permafrost has become a carbon emitter.
Nelson city council made a number of decisions this year aimed at either reducing greenhouse gases or mitigating the effects of climate change, as part of a worldwide trend that sees many city governments more active than national governments on this front.
It declared climate change a strategic priority, hired a climate change co-ordinator, and required electric vehicle charging stations in all new buildings.
Councillor Rik Logtenberg founded a national climate caucus of municipal elected officials that now has 200 members, and the city formally intervened in a Supreme Court of Canada case on carbon pricing.
They limited the number of motorized boats allowed if a future developer builds on the former Kutenai Landing site, gave priority to providing more infrastructure for walking and biking, and created new rules for wildfire-resistant landscaping.
By the end of this year, Warfield, Castlegar, Silverton, New Denver, Rossland, Slocan, Nelson, Kaslo and the Regional District of Central Kootenay had all pledged to transition to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050 in a campaign run by the West Kootenay EcoSociety.