Dialog on green new deal for Canada reaches Smithers

Coalition wants Canadian CO2 emissions cut in half by 2030


From left, Tina Portman, Jesse Hiemstra and Debbie Wellwood participated in a green new deal townhall in Smithers June 6. (Trevor Hewitt photo)

Bulkley Valley residents had the opportunity to weigh in on elements that will constitute a “green new deal” for Canada at a townhall meeting in Smithers on June 6.

The event was put on by the Coalition for a Green New Deal (C4GND), which has been holding these meetings across the country.

“What these meetings are about is getting Canadians together to talk about what they would like to see in a green new deal for Canada,” said Tina Portman, environmental advocate and host of the meeting. “A green new deal for Canada is a large-scale national push to address what we need to do to meet our climate target.”

“People from all walks of life can be part of the solution if they want to be,” said Debbie Wellwood, a wildlife ecologist who attended the event. “We all have something to offer and we should also be ready to lend people a hand that need a hand. That’s an important part of the green new deal, that people don’t get left behind.”

“People have debates about whether its top-down problem solving or bottom-up problem-solving,” said Wellwood. ” I think that it has to come from all levels, going back to the individual, and the community, and the family. Everybody at all levels, because it is so urgent, needs to be thinking about this and working on it.”

Inspired by Le Pacte in Quebec, the core demand of this grassroots movement are that policies be implemented that would reduce Canadian carbon emissions by half within the next 11 years; that economic stimulus be provided for safe and renewable energy, green jobs and infrastructure; and that the autonomy and sovereignty of First Nations is respected by working alongside Indigenous communities with free, prior, informed consent.

Portman says that the danger of climate change has been ignored for too long.

“From the Rio climate convention, through the Kyoto Protocol and the Copenhagen Accord, Canada has a history of falling short of carbon-reduction goals, she said. “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has presented us with a new goal: To reduce our CO2 emissions to the level of 308 megatonnes by the year 2030 (a 50 per cent reduction of 2017’s CO2 emission level).”

Portman and the others involved see this as a narrow window of opportunity to act before “runaway climate change.” MORE

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