13 November 2009

23 Days - It's Time to Listen

It's Time to Listen is a new youth-driven initiative that is asking Canadians (steal this idea in other countries!) to demand leadership from elected officials by flooding phone lines every Monday.

If you're in Canada, please follow up. If you live somewhere else, do the same thing in your country ... or hey! phone our Prime Minister of the Alberta Tar Sands. Here's their communiqué:

This December in Copenhagen, world leaders will meet to negotiate an international climate treaty. I cannot tell you how essential it is, for the future of life on earth, that our leaders come up with a fair, ambitious and binding agreement. There are only 23 days until Copenhagen — we must act fast.

Every single day I worry about what the future has in store if we/our leaders fail in Copenhagen, and everyday I work hard to demand action from our Canadian government, but I can't do it alone; we need to do this together. We need to tell our government that leadership at the UN Climate Summit, investment in clean energy and action on green jobs are the most important issues to us. They need to know that we're not going away and our numbers are growing. I am asking you to join hundreds of people across the country every Monday in calling our MPs and asking them to please listen, to commit to environmental justice (more info below), and to protect our future.

Last week in Barcelona, African countries walked out of UN climate talks because some rich countries like Canada are refusing to commit to deep cuts to global warming pollution, and Canada won the "Fossil of the Week" award at the same talks for being the most unhelpful country. We need to work together to change all of this. It will only take 3 minutes of your time, a small commitment given the severity of the climate crisis. As youth who are going to have to deal with the impacts of climate change, we really need all the help we can get.

There is more info below but here are the basics...

If you have never done this before, here is a little video (that's our Pedal for the Planet friend, Nadia in the video) that demonstrates how easy it is! And here's a script you can use in case you aren't sure of what to say....

"Hi, my name is _________ and I would like to leave a message for _______________ to tell him (her?) that Canada must commit to environmental justice in Copenhagen. It is not fair that those who have contributed least to the problem of climate change are, and will be, suffering the most. To do this, we want him to target funding to protect impacted communities including the North, rural communities and Indigenous communities and to commit Canada to world class climate targets like those in Bill C-311. Thanks, have a good day."

Here is the number and MPs to call in Canada....


Stephen Harper, Prime Minister - Harper.S@parl.gc.ca - (613) 992-4211
Jim Prentice, Minister of the Environment - Prentice.J@parl.gc.ca - (613) 992-4275
James Bezan, Chair of the Environment and Sustainable Development Committee - Bezan.J@parl.gc.ca - (613) 992-2032

Tell the following opposition MPs the same thing...

Michael Ignatieff, Leader of the Opposition - Ignatieff.M@parl.gc.ca - (613) 995-9364
David McGuinty, Environment Critic for the Official Opposition - McGuinty.D@parl.gc.ca - (613) 992-3269
Frank Scarpaleggia, Vice-Chair of the Environment and Sustainable Development Committee - Scarpaleggia.F@parl.gc.ca - (613) 995-8281

We are organizing it for every Monday (with a different theme) until Copenhagen but if that doesn't work for you, you can do it anytime, all the time. That said, when we do it all together, it demonstrates our unity and commitment and sends an even stronger message. So mark down Mondays on your calendar!

If you would like to do more than call, please sign up a location to host a "Climate Crew Monday." 
Email domesticactions@ourclimate.org to get a Climate Crew Starter Kit - and remember that only a few people is a great way to start. Here's a link to an online form to sign up a location for a Climate Crew - http://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?formkey=dHJsSVpuajFYbUltX25wdkJJNTZ3QkE6MA

This is what youth across the country did last week.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3U-Ecq0O0y8

Please, please, please pass this message along to your family and friends, we need to flood the phone lines.

Let me know if you have any questions or need more info.

Sad, angry, scared and full of HOPE,


More information on the Campaign

This campaign is called "It's Time to Listen"--a youth-led six week campaign in the lead-up to Copenhagen with a different theme each week for each of the Power Shift Principles

Oct. 26 - Time for politicians to listen
Nov. 2 - Reduce emissions now
Nov. 9 - Commit to environmental justice
Nov. 16 - Invest in clean energy, not tar sands
Nov. 23 - Create effective green jobs
Nov. 30 - Lead Canada to be part of a progressive global deal in Copenhagen

We're going to use a mixture of flash dances, quick actions, special missions, emails, videos, letters, phone calls and good ol' face-to-face communication to:

1: Tell our government that climate leadership at the UN Climate Summit at Copenhagen, investment in clean energy and action on green jobs are the most important issues to us. They need to know that we're not going away and our numbers are growing.

2: Make climate leadership at the UN Climate Summit at Copenhagen, investment in clean energy and action on green jobs the #1 issue for Canadians.

Sign up a location for a Climate Crew/Be part of a Climate Crew near you

This week our focus is on committing to environmental justice. Our Climate Crews are doing a range of actions from a "freeze" while one person calls out environmental justice facts, to a group of people representing poor countries with tape over their mouths to show that they don't have enough voice in these decisions, to a rich country/poor country face-off that ends with either a poor country "die-in" if the rich countries refuse to act or a mutual "gratitude dance" if the rich countries commit to be climate leaders.

You are welcome to think of your own action to promote environmental justice (but please don't break the law, trespass or put anyone's health or property at risk).

We will turn photos and videos from this action in an awesome video and viral email to get more and more Canadians plugged in to the campaign and acting. We'll also use the video and viral email to build to next week. So please take pictures and video of your action so we have evidence of all the support for environmental justice. You can upload the photos to the facebook page and there will be instructions for video upload on the facebook event.

You can find a list of locations on the facebook event - http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=191944257603 - We want to get 50 locations accross the country doing weekly flash dances and quick actions by the end of this campaign.

If there is a location near you then you just need to show up at the right time, and bring a cell phone or signs with the theme of the week with you.

If there is not a location near you it is easy to sign one up, and easy to get a Climate Crew going.

Email domesticactions@ourclimate.org to get a Climate Crew Starter Kit - and remember that only a few people is a great way to start.

Here's a link to an online form to sign up a location for a Climate Crew - http://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?formkey=dHJsSVpuajFYbUltX25wdkJJNTZ3QkE6MA

Since we're geographically scattered we're using a coordinated and unifying tactic to raise awareness and project unity. If you're planning on doing something really different please get in contact with us (250-858-6057) to talk about how the action works within the broader campaign strategy.


What is Environmental Justice?

It might be easier to explain environmental "injustice." Think of Canada's Inuit. They have lived on the sea ice for generations hunting seals and other important food sources, but have only contributed to greenhouse gas pollution for just over 50 years. As climate change melts the sea ice the Inuit lose not only their ability to hunt and provide for their families, they lose an integral part of their culture and spirituality.

In Bangladesh, farmers sow and harvest simple crops like beans, rice and lentils. Many use oxen for this task, not being able to afford a tractor or other motorized equipment. These poor farmers contribute very little to the world's skyrocketing carbon dioxide levels, but are at risk of losing everything to climate change. Rising sea levels combined with more violent storms are starting to force salt water inland, destroying valuable crops. Farmers are now faced with an uncertain future where each year could bring starvation.

Climate change, in combination with other land-use factors, is turning once habitable land into desert; this process is known as "desertification." The United Nations has claimed that desertification is the "greatest environmental challenge of our times," and estimates that two billion people world wide could be victims of desertification in the future. Many of the victims of desertification live in Africa. As with so many other vulnerable populations whos lives have been devastated by climate change, these people produce almost no greenhouse gases and have done almost nothing to cause the problem of global warming.

The key point is that climate change has the biggest impact on poor people that did little to cause it, whether they live in Canada's north, Canada's rural and Indigenous communities, Bangladesh's flood plains, or the rapidly desertifying parts of Africa. This is injust, you could even call it a climate crime.

How does Canada play into this? Well, we have one of the largest per capita rates of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet, and we have been emitting greenhouse gases en masse for over 100 years. In short, we are a nation that has helped cause the world's climate change crisis. Not only have we helped create the problem, we have more money and resources to do something about climate change, and to deal with the negative effects, than most countries around the world.

We need to step up and do our part to reduce emissions, here in Canada and around the world. We also need to provide aid for developing countries and vulnerable populations that are being threatened by climate change. When Canada attends the UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen this December, we need to push for an agreement that commits rich, industrialized countries to science-based emissions reduction targets, and that provides aid for developing countries to deal with the devastating effects of climate change.

That is what we mean by "environmental justice." Can you help us spread the word to Canadians and talk to our government?

Thank you!

Nadia Nowak
Student, UNBC Environmental Planning
E-mail: northernATcampusclimatenetwork.org

"If you can't fix it, please stop breaking it."
— Severn Cullis-Suzuki

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?