A demonstration organized primarily by students in City Park drew a crowd of about 100 on Wednesday afternoon.
The live-streamed event, led by several Queen’s and 350 Kingston students, calls on politicians preparing for federal elections to make climate change a priority, demanding action at the emergency level.
The rally focused on the need for political action on climate change, encouraging attendees to post on social media with the hashtags #CanadaIsOnFire, #JustTransitionNow and #ClimateChangeIsReal, and to tag local politicians.
The event joined a series of 350 Canadian demonstrations across the country, and speakers noted that the timing is important given the rampant wildfire situation in western Canada and a pending federal election.
Vic Sahai of the NDP party was the only local deputy candidate at the rally, and said he feels that presence at events like this is important to demonstrate that climate change is an important issue and to motivate others to act.
Sahai says we need to transition from an oil-based economy to a green economy, and says we are in a perfect position to do so as we try to recover from the pandemic.
He says Kingston, as an educational center, could be a leader in the transition.
“Queen’s University could become a center of excellence for ecological research,” said Sahai.
“St. Lawrence College could be one of those universities that we prepare for the transition of oil workers to the green economy.”
No other local deputy was present in person, although the Green Party sent official representatives.
Stephanie Sherman, a Queen student and organizer of the event, said young people can often feel helpless and overwhelmed by weather anxiety.
She says that an event like this allows everyone to demonstrate the importance of the problem.
“When things come up or we see the news, we just shut down, we don’t want to talk about it, but that’s the exact opposite that we have to do,” Sherman said.
“When an event like this comes up, people just jump into it. People feel the heat, the effects of climate change ”.
He added that people can vote and show they care about climate change, but the problem is one that cannot be solved at the individual level, but at the federal and global levels.
Kyla Tienhaara, assistant professor in the School of Environmental Studies and the Department of Global Development Studies at Queen’s University, referenced a report by the Indigenous Environmental Network and Oil Change International that suggests that 25% of carbon emissions North America have been delayed or arrested for the action. of indigenous peoples.
Both she and Sherman noted in their speeches that the indigenous community exercises more than its own weight in addressing climate change, and that climate action can also be an important step in reconciliation.
Tienhaara also stated that climate change is a problem that must be solved with equity and that it is directly linked to social problems.
She says research indicates that a shorter workweek would have a positive impact on emissions.
The decrease in commuting and energy used in office buildings is an obvious impact, but Tienhaara adds that a shorter work week could allow people more time and energy to live in an ecologically sustainable way.
“I know personally that when I’m really stretched for time, I’m more likely to get prepackaged food and people are more likely to drive rather than walk or bike,” Tienhaara said.
“Even if this is not going to lead to the biggest emission reductions, it’s about shifting our focus from GDP growth being everything to a wellness economy where people are happier even if they don’t lead a lifestyle. high carbon content. “
Tienhaara and the organizers encouraged the crowd to come forward and vote on September 20.
There will be a global climate strike on September 24.