By Scott Strasser, September 25 2014 —
Around 300 Calgarians demonstrated in the People’s Climate March (PCM) on Sunday, Sept. 21 to pressure the Canadian government to take action on climate change. The PCM saw hundreds of thousands of people participate in similar marches on the same day in an estimated 160 countries.
The largest march was in New York, where around 310,000 people took to the streets in Manhattan. The UN hosted government, business and philanthropic leaders at a Climate Summit on Tuesday, Sept. 23, hoping to advance action to reverse climate change.
Calgary’s march began at 1:30 p.m. at Olympic Plaza. Speakers from First Nations tribes, environmental groups and political parties took turns speaking to the crowd.
Green Party of Alberta leader Janet Keeping urged the audience to pressure the government to strengthen environmental regulations.
“It’s a matter of us changing the rules. We have to make it easier for all of us to do the right thing — easier to take public transit, easier to have our homes supplied with clean renewable energy,” Keeping said. “We’re all people of the land. Some of us don’t recognize that yet.”
Debra Faulk, a minister with the Unitarian Church, also spoke before the march. She suggested lifestyle changes will help people make necessary changes in their thinking.
“Climate change is here now and we’re the solution,” Faulk said. “If we each do the small things, eventually they’ll become the model for others to follow.”
Liberal MLA David Swann stressed that while it was great to see Calgarians take part, the march won’t be enough to encourage legislative change.
“You’ve taken the first step by coming here today. But this is not enough. If you’re not contacting your MLA, your minister of environment, your Premier, how are they supposed to know this is a priority?” Swann said.
The march began shortly after the speeches. Singing and chanting, the crowd snaked through the Beltline and 17th avenue.
“I think the planet should be our number-one priority, seeing as we’re all inhabitants of it,” said march participant Vanessa Mossat. “Even though our economy is heavily reliant on oil, we recognize that a change needs to be made.”
The UCalgary Greens are a U of C club affiliated with the Green Party of Canada. Club president Haider Ali said the march showed that Calgarians are starting to recognize the threat of climate change.
“It’s more than just doing the small things. It’s about actually getting involved and affecting the bigger issues and policy changes,” Ali said.
In time with the PCM, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund divested all its holdings in the fossil fuel industry. Forty other organizations did the same, resulting in around $50 billion in divestments.
“Climate change is the biggest issue of our generation and there will be severe short-term and long-term consequences if we don’t address it,” Ali said.