It was standing room only last night at the Newmarket Old Town Hall as local citizens joined the Canada-wide conversation on climate change.
That movement is known as the Pact for a Green New Deal, a growing coalition of citizens, community groups, unions, musicians, artists and more, who are sharing ideas at town halls across the country about what they believe Canada should and should not do to solve the climate crisis.
About 130 citizens from Newmarket and beyond came out to the May 29 event organized by the newly formed environmental group Drawdown Newmarket-Aurora, co-founded by Fran Bazos and Teresa Porter.
“One of the ideas behind our group is to bring environmental groups together to have a louder voice and greater influence in politics,” Bazos said to the packed house. “Politics is where everything is going to happen and we need to let our politicians know that this is important to us and that we’re going to vote on the environment.”
Porter emphasized to the evening’s participants the urgency to cut Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, an 11-year timeline noted by leading climate change scientists and researchers of a potential global warming of 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels by then if emissions continue to rise.
The Green New Deal calls on the federal government to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect biodiversity, rise to the challenges that climate change increasingly presents, and create more than one million jobs in the process.
“We need to do something, and we need to do it now,” Porter said.
It is a proposal that is gaining in popularity among people and groups from all walks of life, especially young people who know their futures are at stake, social justice organization the Council of Canadians said in a recent statement.
“It means making all our communities healthier. It means reconnecting and feeling safe again. It means all of society heeding the call from young people, and coming together to avert disaster, planning not just how to sustain this generation, but the seven that come after it. A Green New Deal in Canada must lift us all, together,” the council states.
As Newmarket’s event got underway, here are some highlights of what was overheard:
“When they started talking about the abolition of child labour, they said it can’t be done. They said that about regulating the emissions in cars and the gas mileage, the abolition of CFCs. They’re always telling us it can’t be done. Remember, it can.”
“Get manufacturers to make easily recyclable wrappings and containers a priority. Do dishes and laundry in off-peak hours and hang to dry. Cycle or walk whenever possible.”
“I hope young people get out and march, it’s your world coming up.”
“We want to encourage recycling and textile pickup, things that we deal with already, just do more of it.”
“Re-institute subsidies for electric cars and create more charging stations for e-cars.”
“We need more training for our young people in renewable energy, local and sustainable agriculture, eco-systems and natural resource management. Preparing our youth for more sustainable growth is very important.”
“If you take a tree, plant a tree.”
“Everyone should Google Greta Thunberg’s TEDxStudent talk.”
“Corporate greed is at the centre of a lot of this. Corporations are considered people in law, so they have a lot of rights that prevent us from being able to control many factors affecting the environment.”
“Anything that we can do as individuals to reduce our own carbon footprint is well worth it. All the changes that we can make are not enough to reverse the situation, so we really have to look at the big players.”
“Activists learning how to carry out civil disobedience to pressure politicians and corporations.”
“The amount of support of the fossil fuel and car industry and the big players destroying this planet is obscene.”
“The amount of styrofoam cups in use at hospitals is amazing. Bring a reusable water bottle.”
“Why isn’t there more emphasis on repair? It’s too easy to just throw stuff out.”
“Hold corporations accountable.”
“Make transit more affordable and convenient for people to use.”
“A big problem is the size of houses. Every individual could be allowed a per-person amount of energy use. If you’re in a monster home and you use it all up, you have to pay more.”
“Following the footsteps of a lot of European countries that have placed a ban on new gasoline car sales in the coming years. The earliest is Norway, in 2025 you will not be allowed to buy a new gasoline car. As that happens, the automakers, facing the bigger picture, they will transition to electric and hybrid cars and that’s when ideally the government puts in more chargers, brings back programs that incentivize businesses to install chargers at work, shopping malls, things like that.”
“Preparing and planning for climate refugees because there are going to be thousands if not millions of displaced human beings and, Canada being the country that we are, we’re going to try to take a lot of those people in, I hope.”
“I don’t know why we’re not doing this yet, is incentivizing not only solar, wind jobs, but the training for those jobs. With a proper plan in place, everyone could have a job if you want a job in solar or wind. The more we build those up, the less we have to rely on coal, natural gas, etc.”
For more information on Drawdown Newmarket-Aurora, visit Facebook.For more on the Pact for Green New Deal, click here.