On Monday, Belleville was host to a town hall meeting as part of the non-partisan coalition called the Pact for a Green New Deal.
Approximately 75 people attended this event along with several Prince Edward County residents concerned about climate change and its effects on the human race.
According to the United Nations (UN) there are only 11 years to cut our carbon emissions by half in order to avoid unprecedented environmental catastrophes caused by warming global temperatures.
Cutting emissions in half within the next decade, while protecting jobs, is only one of the Green New Deal’s mandates. Many of the concerns highlight the relationship between environmental and social justice issues.
The Green New Deal is a an idea perpetrated by a group of people and organizations devoted to changing the conversation from one that revolves around whether or not climate change is happening to what can be done to mitigate the effects of climate change and stop it from progressing.
With over 70 organizations involved and over 60 notable endorsements, such as that from environmental activist David Suzuki and musician Dan Mangan, the movement is quickly gaining momentum.
Environmental issues from coast to coast may vary in their scope and definition but what many people in each region of this country have in common is concern with increasing environmental disasters.
In an aptly named “town hall” event, one of many that is an organized group of events taking place across the country, a local group of citizens met to voice their concerns and write down what they believe needs to change in order to effectively reverse and/or mitigate the effects of climate change.
Many of these concerns highlight the relationship between environmental and social justice issues.
Prince Edward County resident Lynne Rochon, a member of the Council of Canadians attended the town hall event in Belleville and spoke with the Gazette as to why she’s getting involved in the Green New Deal and what climate change means locally.
“I think there are a lot of people in the County who are very much concerned about the state of the environment. And I think a lot of us feel that there are things the municipality can do to protect ourselves from the disasters that are going to happen if we don’t get our CO2 levels down.
Debating the words with which to describe the state of the climate is just so time consuming stated Rochon.
Lori Borthwick, host of the local town hall event, also took time to speak with the Gazette. She is involved with three organizations, 350.org, Lead Now, and the Council of Canadians, all of which support the Green New Deal.
“We are hoping to involve people from all walks of life. We want input from everyone-that gives you the best ideas-if you discuss the issue of climate change with Canadians from every walk of life,” stated Borthwick.
Like many other supporters of the Green New Deal, Borthwick hopes that through these town hall events, governments are going to realize that this is a really important issue for Canadians.
“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been noted as having said that Canadians are ‘preoccupied’ with the environment,” states Borthwick. “We are not so much preoccupied as realizing that it is the biggest issue of the times and we need to tackle and mitigate as much as possible in order to continue any type of civilization going forward. We really do need to get a handle on it.”
The hope of organizers, such as Lori Borthwick, is that the local politicians such as MP Neil Ellis will realize that having 100 or so people attend their town hall meeting makes it a significant event.
“Hopefully,” she says “it will move the needle so that every party starts looking at climate change and making plans to tackle it-really put it on the agenda,” adds Borthwick.
Among the county resident attending was Bay of Quinte NDP federal candidate Stephanie Bell.
Once the data from the town hall events across the country has been collected, it will be collated into a pact which can then be distributed to political parties who will, hopefully, incorporate some of the concerns into their agenda.
“Hopefully if they see that there’s enough of a momentum about it, if we make this an election issue, we’re hoping we can get it brought into the mainstream and actively worked on,” adds Borthwick.
Many grassroots organizers across the country are taking aim at municipal governments to begin tackling climate change.
With less red-tape to cut through and the ability to make things happen a bit faster than the federal government, Borthwick believes municipal governments must be the first step to effectively introduce steps to combat climate change.
Unlike the seminal novel by Rachel Carson, which arguably spawned the modern environmental movement, this is not a ‘silent spring’. If you listen closely, a rumbling of discontent can be heard from coast to coast.
With climate emergencies being declared across the country, including here in the County, it would seem the fate of the environment is becoming a priority for a growing number of Canadians.