The community room was packed, the mood a mix of curiosity, and urgent anticipation. Not a normal Tuesday night at the Antigonish People’s Place Public library.
Close to 100 people had come to take part in a town-hall style meeting which is currently being repeated in 150 communities across Canada.
“There are people in those communities who are doing the exact same thing we’re doing,” said Chad Brazier who helped organize the event in Antigonish on May 21. “People who see the writing on the wall as presented to us by global scientists and which we can see with our own eyes.”
Halifax, Mahone Bay, Charlottetown, Edmundston, Moncton and Saint John are the Atlantic Canadian municipalities which have already declared states of climate emergency.
There are over 300 municipalities across Canada that have done the same thing in order to highlight the need to reduce carbon emissions.
However, these declarations do not lead to specific actions. That’s where The Pact for a Green New Deal comes in.
On May 5, 2019, over 67 separate organizations across the country came together to endorse The Pact for the Green New Deal, a non-partisan coalition calling for a 50 percent reduction to Canada’s fossil fuel emissions within the next 10 years.
What exactly the American – inspired Green New Deal is, and how it would look in Canada is what people had come to learn and decide.
“It’s a vision that acknowledges where we’re at today. That we are in crisis.” said David Elliot, another organizer for the gathering. “It lays out a vision, a groundwork to where we could be at the end of a set period of time.”
That time being between now and 2030, when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report states that the average surface temperature on earth will likely reach 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels. This could severely effect sea-level rise, bio diversity, human health, and our long-term survivability.
In order to avoid that outcome, the IPCC calls for “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society,” and that’s also what The Pact for a Green New Deal demands.
Once this was explained to those gathered in the community room, everyone in attendance was given the chance to contribute ideas on how Canada can meet those demands.
There were six tables spread throughout the library where people were asked to write down what a Green New Deal in Canada should include, and also what should be left out. According to the organizers the information will be collated, packaged, and then sent to The Pact for a Green New Deal national body which will then deliver the information to policy makers in Ottawa.
“When your voice is heard you feel like something might actually change,” said Nancy Turniawan who lives in the community of Lakevale in Antigonish county. “People have enough to say and are that interested than an hour is not enough.”
“It can’t come from the top down,” said Elliot. “No one knows better than what needs to be done then the people in this room, the people in the community, the grassroots. That’s what we’re here to do today.”