Already the biggest demonstration for the climate, the People’s Climate March on Sunday rallied hundreds of thousands of citizens around the world including over 1,000 in Montreal.
Following up the Bill McKibben and Ellen Gabriel climate talk that took place in early September, Concordia students and representants of Concordia Student Union joined the march starting in La Fontaine Park on Sunday afternoon.
CSU representatives had been visiting Concordia’s classrooms for the two last weeks to try to get students out for the march and raise awareness about fossil fuel economy.
The vice-president for external affairs and mobilization explained the importance of getting involved in the climate change movement.
“The impact was more the collective showing up [of] different parts of civil society. We were happy to see students from Concordia and [to] be here in support of what is the largest crisis facing humanity, which is anthropogenic climate change,” Anthony Garoufalis-Auger said.
Banners reminded the public of the the main concern of Canadian and Quebec environmentalists: the construction of pipelines and development of tar sands.
“We want the government to be fiercely opposed to the Energy East pipeline project,” Isabelle St-Germain, deputy director of Équiterre, said.
“While Quebec has an ambitious climate plan that brought down greenhouse gas emissions to 15 per cent since the ‘90s, emissions went up to 15 per cent in the whole of Canada because of tar sands.”
The march was set up to precede the UN Climate Summit this week in New York on Sept. 23 — a summit which Prime Minister Stephen Harper will not attend.
“It is very much in line with his current policy of just expanding the tar sands. Stephen Harper is clearly not on the side of the scientific community on climate change but on the side of the fossil fuel industries which want to continue these extraction projects,” Garoufalis-Auger said.
While some think capitalism can’t mix with the environment — which is the subject behind Naomi Klein’s latest book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate — the coordinator of the People’s Climate March in Montreal was optimistic. “Economy and ecology go together hand by hand,” Jenny Loughran said. “We can invest in a greener future, in green technologies and this is going to benefit to the global economy, not just Canada.”
Volunteers organised the march in five weeks through the use of social media.
For Loughran, Montreal must be an example for the rest of the country. “As part of Canada, unfortunately, we have a terrible reputation when it comes to climate change,” she said. “So it was really important to make sure we are part of this movement.”
The organizations joining the march will continue organizing other protests against climate change in a near future. Earth Day in particular, held on April 22, will be the next big event — in 2012, it gathered 250,000 people in Montreal.
More about the People’s Climate March and pictures from all around the world on http://peoplesclimate.org.