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Global grassroots committed to fighting fossil fuel expansion: environmentalist,
By Jon Thompson,
December 14 2015

THUNDER BAY -- As the world’s leaders signed an historic climate deal in Paris, environmentalist Julee Boan was marching between the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower.

The Thunder Bay-based boreal program manager for Ontario Nature had been volunteering at the Zone d’Action pour le Climat for a week, culminating in Saturday’s Climate March rally.

Climate justice activists had intended for the action to come after meetings at the political level but promising negotiations caused the the international community to extend discussions another day. When the global agreement was reached, it immediately spread through the Climate March.

Boan called the atmosphere a “celebration” but added the thousands of climate activists weren’t celebrating the voluntary deal nearly 200 countries struck to hold the global temperature to rising only 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

They were celebrating the global community of local movements that will ensure world leaders keep their promise.

“I think the celebration came from the fact that we know we’re not alone, in showing governments and corporate power that people are watching,” Boan said.

“I think the main message that came out of that march was that people around the world will come together to oppose new fossil fuel development at every corner. That’s what’s going to hold them accountable to the promises they made in the Paris agreement.”

Many shared personal stories from their communities where climate disasters have impacted the quality of life for future generations.

“I found when you meet people who are on the very front lines of climate change and fossil fuel pollution -- often those are going hand in hand – you see how much responsibility we have in Canada as one of the countries who built our wealth burning fossil fuels,” Boan said.

“We have a substantial responsibility to the people who are suffering from this.”

To achieve the non-legally binding goal for rising global temperatures, the world would have to leave over 7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in the ground, essentially committing to weaning itself off of fossil fuel development.

National signatories will come back together in 2020 to discuss progress and next steps. That gives those movements a timeline to focus their efforts on domestic policies to diversifying energy production.

Boan returned to Thunder Bay refreshed and determined the local branch of that struggle would best serve the cause by resisting the TransCanada Energy East Pipeline.

The proposed conversion of an existing natural gas pipeline would transport 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day from the oil sands in Alberta through Northern Ontario to refineries on the East Coast.

Thunder Bay Council deferred a vote that would have condemned the pipeline in August but the issue is expected to arise again.

“Locally, that’s what we need to do. We need to stop that pipeline,” Boan said.

“We have two new Liberal MPs in town and we need them to stand up for us in these goals and they should also not support any new expansion of fossil fuel development.”

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