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Take a walk — for a change

The Chronicle-Journal,
Guest column by Kerstin Muth,
November 28 2015

THUNDER BAY

The world has big opportunity for “change” at the United Nations Climate Change meeting in Paris — to make the commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius and avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

There are a few reasons for optimism in Paris. To date 140 countries have submitted their greenhouse reduction plans. Although the combined impact of these reductions has been calculated to still result in a 2.7 degree global temperature rise, it is an improvement from previous years. The goal in Paris is to toughen these plans so that the maximum global rise will be less than 2 degrees in order to prevent more dangerous climate change such as more extreme weather including droughts and floods as well as from rising sea levels and coastal damage.

Renewable electrical power generation capacity continues to increase globally. The greatest increase is in solar energy. Solar photo voltaic capacity was only 2.6 GW in 2004 and 139 GW in 2014. That is an increase of over 50 times!

The voices speaking out for action on climate change are growing and include organizations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary fund. Munich Re, a leading global re-insurance company, states that “Any further adjournment of a legally binding CO2 emission-limitation legislation towards future world climate summits will increase the need for adaptation measures (and the financing thereof) to changing weather patterns and weather risks. Recent studies underline that this would not be a reasonable way to handle climate impacts — neither in humanitarian nor in economic terms.”

Pope Francis has made action on climate change a moral issue. Technology and politics alone are not enough without ethical considerations. He expressed his concern for nature, for future generations and especially for vulnerable people around the world who are at greatest risk from the impacts of climate change.

Nov. 29 is the date for the Global Climate March organized by Avaaz. So far there are 2,326 events occurring around the world. It is the best moment to publicly show political leaders the importance of coming to a meaningful agreement in Paris.

Last year the People’s Climate March on Sept. 21, 2014 drew 400,000 people in New York City alone. The huge march planned for Paris this year has been cancelled by French authorities due to security concerns in light of the recent tragic events. Organizers of the march have called out to people everywhere to march “on behalf of those who can’t . . .”

Slogans are often about change and climate change movements are no exception — “To change everything, we need everyone, everywhere” and “Je suis le changement.” “Real Change” was the slogan for the recently elected Liberal government. The “real change” they have promised on climate change includes that “Canada urgently create a national environmental strategy that embraces scientific evidence and accepts the reality of human-caused climate change, champions mandatory international agreements to keep the Earth’s atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations below the level that would increase global temperatures by 2 degrees Celsius, sets firm annual targets for Canada’s fair share of emission reductions, takes appropriate action to ensure they are met and publishes independently-validated annual progress reports.”

People in Thunder Bay have a chance to demonstrate the importance of real change on climate change to our local, provincial, national and global leaders on Sunday. Join the local coalition of CUSP (Citizens United for a Sustainable Planet), Thunder Bay Chapter of Council of Canadians, Fossil Free Lakehead, Ontario Nature, Lakehead University Environment Law Student Association, Environmental Film Network and Environment North in a Thunder Bay People’s Climate March. The walk will begin at Hillcrest Park at 1 p.m. We will be walking from Hillcrest Park to the new Maple Tops Activity Centre at Park and Court.

After the walk there will be a showing of the film This Changes Everything at 2 p.m., in the Maple Row theatre (formerly the Paramount). This thought-provoking film by Avi Lewis presents seven portraits of communities on the front lines of the climate change challenge around the world, including the Alberta Tar Sands. The film, inspired by the book of the same name by Naomi Klein, presents the idea that tackling climate change can also transform a failed global economic system. As is the tradition with films presented by the Environmental Film Network there will be an opportunity for discussion after the movie.

For more information on the walk and the film go to efilmnetwork.wordpress.com.

Kerstin Muth is a member of Environment North.

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