Canadians converge in New York for world's biggest climate rally

Photo submitted by Zack Embree

Sierra Club executive director John Bennett is planning to be among hundreds of Canadians converging in New York City to join the Peoples' Climate March on Sunday. With over 100,000 people expected to take their slogans to the streets and coordinated rallies in cities from around the world, it's said to be the biggest climate rally in history. 

"I'm done waiting. Twenty-five years of waiting is enough," Bennett commented in a news release. "We need action now!"

Vancouver-based photographer and filmmaker Zack Embree went to New York to express both the urgency for policies to address climate change and to capture the moment through his lens. 

"There’s a huge conversion of people here in New York City," Embree told the Vancouver Observer today while making his way to Manhattan by public transit. "People are taking part in a huge march from all over the world here to make a statement that we really need concrete action right now on climate change....It's a historic moment."

Embree said the demand for people to take concrete action to address climate and environmental issues was gaining real momentum.

Renowned environmental advocate and author Tzeporah Berman said Canada would be a focus at the rally, given the Canadian government's dismantling of environmental laws in order to pave the way for rapid oil extraction.  

"You now have this aggressive push for oilsands pipelines from the Harper government that has ignited communities across North America," said Berman in a CBC interview today. 

She said climate change was now widely accepted as being an urgent problem that needed to be addressed.

"You also have some of the most conservative bodies in the world -- the World Bank, the International Energy Agency -- calling on us to leave two-thirds of the remaining fossil fuels in the ground and saying that it is affordable to move toward cleaner, safer energy."  

Berman said people were seeing the increase in extreme weather events, such as Hurricane Sandy that ravaged New York two years ago, and starting to connect a growing sense of crises with concrete solutions.

"Unlike in the past, people see it is possible to get the changes we want to happen. We’ve seen a dramatic rise in renewable energy, in part because of to technological advances, but also because of policy adaptation.... We’ve seen a 400 per cent increase in investment in renewable energy in the last 10 years."

Berman wrote today in The Globe and Mail about Canada's mixed reputation in the world, having started off as an early leader in environmental policies, only to become the only nation in the world to have bailed out of the Kyoto agreement in 2011.

In addition to environmental and social justice activists, a number of prominent First Nation activists are expected to be at the event, including Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations spokeswoman Eriel Deranger, Beaver Lake Cree First Nation member Crystal Lameman, as well as Melina Laboucan-Massimo, a member of the Lubicon Cree Nation and Climate Campaigner with Greenpeace Canada.

Vancouver Observer Publisher Linda Solomon Wood is in New York to cover the rally as well (see her below, with Democracy Now host Amy Goodman). Stay tuned for more. 

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