Polar bears bike for Greenpeace campaign

Greenpeace calls on preservation of fragile Arctic

Dressed-up cyclists rode in cities all around the world this weekend — including Montreal — as part of Greenpeace’s Arctic campaign.

Despite the rain, about 50 people met Saturday afternoon in Laurier Park for the Ice Ride organized by the non-governmental environmental organization. After decorating their bikes and dressing up as polar bears, the riders went along a 12 km ride hoisting 16 letters spelling “Sauvons l’Arctique” (save the arctic).

Greenpeace’s main demand is creating a sanctuary in the Arctic region. “The idea is to create around the North Pole, an area free of oil exploration and fishing,” said Charles Latimer, Greenpeace’s Arctic campaigner. “Climate change impacts the Arctic more than any other ecosystem. [The] Arctic is a climate stabilizer for the planet. If the Arctic changes, we are all affected.”

This ride followed the International Declaration on the Future of the Arctic launched in 2013 by Greenpeace. The declaration explains what the protection of the Arctic should be and was signed by well-known Canadians like David Suzuki and Margaret Atwood and will ultimately be presented to the leaders of the Arctic Council as well as to representatives at the United Nations.

“Definitely, [the Ice Ride] is a people’s mobilization targeted to our politicians and the leaders of the Arctic states as well as the entire world,” Latimer said. The Ice Ride happened in 150 towns around the world; Thailand’s efforts brought 1,200 people in Phitsanulok and created one of the biggest showings.

“We did a poll this summer that showed that three-quarters of people wanted the Arctic protected,” Latimer said.

A participant in the Montreal’s ride, Elisabeth Segura, said, “It is important here because Canada has a big part of the Arctic, we are very affected for everything happening in the Arctic; anyway I believed it is important for everybody, Arctic changes affect the climate in the whole world.”

The wind and rain did not encourage a lot of Montrealers to ride for the Arctic Saturday. Noe Lizarazo, one of the participants, was a bit disappointed by the numbers. “I think unfortunately we need more publicity for the environment for people to start realizing we need to do something,” he said. “As part of the industrial world, we are the more contributing to global warming so it is an obligation to do something.”

The Ice Ride in Canada also supported Inuit communities. Greenpeace helps residents of Clyde River, Nunavut. The National Energy Board gave a licence for seismic testing in Baffin Bay that will have an impact on marine mammals, according to the Inuit community. “We want to share their story,” Latimer said. “Often indigenous people are at the forefront of climate change or industrial development and often they are left with any say on that is happening on their lands.”

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