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Protesters march along George Street during the COP27 Global Day of Action to raise awareness for the climate crisis on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022 in Peterborough, Ont. Over 60 people attended the rally organized by Peterborough Alliance for Climate Action (PACA), with For Our Grandchildren. CLIFFORD SKARSTEDT / EXAMINER

A Global Climate Rally on Water Street

Written by
Robert Gibson
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November 24, 2022
A Global Climate Rally on Water Street
Protesters march along George Street during the COP27 Global Day of Action to raise awareness for the climate crisis on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022 in Peterborough, Ont. Over 60 people attended the rally organized by Peterborough Alliance for Climate Action (PACA), with For Our Grandchildren. CLIFFORD SKARSTEDT / EXAMINER

World leaders, environmentalists, corporations and lobbyists are meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt for the 27th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) from November 6th to the 18th. The stated aim of COP27 is for “countries to come together to take action towards achieving the world’s collective climate goals as agreed under the Paris Agreement and the convention” If the aims of COP27 are to be reached, it will be the result of public pressure coming from events during and after a Global Day of Action on climate change to ask governments to cut their greenhouse gas emissions, support low income and vulnerable populations, and to end fossil fuel expansion. Last year I interviewed Malaika Collette who attended COP26 who said “it all comes down to the local level, because without taking local action, we’re not going to get much action at the national or international levels of government.” One group doing local action is Peterborough Alliance for Climate Action.

On Saturday November 12, 2022, about 60 people held a rally hosted by 4RG, an environmental organization, in front of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry building on Water Street. This was followed by writing letters to politicians of all levels of government so that they keep their climate promises, in addition to expanding them at the Whistle Stop Café.  

There were about 8 people who chose to speak at the rally.

“Thank you for showing up to pressure all governments around the world to speed up the reduction of CO2  for the sake of our health and the health of our planet,” said Tricia Clarkson, Peterborough Alliance for Climate Action.

Clarkson went on to talk about the importance of positive energy and gave examples of where greenhouse gases have been reduced as a result of the electrification of transit, increased renewable energy, and low carbon building materials. 

Funding of a natural gas pipeline [from the Natural Gas Expansion Project] in Selwyn came up in one of the speeches by Guy Hanchet ,4RG, Board member, who pointed out that air pumps, or geothermal systems used for heating and cooling would be cheaper for residents and would save residents more money long term. The subsidy of the pipeline was pointed out to be 1.5 million dollars. 

Several speakers talked about environmental impacts of the More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022, Bill23 which speakers said will take powers away from Conservation Authorities and will weaken environmental protections, as well as take away democratic rights to appeal planning decisions. Bill23 is a large piece of legislation which changes multiple laws impacting land use planning, funding for municipal governments, and restricts Conservation Authorities from working with Municipalities. The government says that the changes are needed to build more housing. Groups like Environmental Defense and the Canadian Environmental Law Association, along with individuals in Peterborough have concerns that housing measures are inadequate, and that the environmental deregulations proposed in the bill are not justified and are harmful. 

Trent University professor Ian Attridge and co-chair of Reimagine Peterborough said “we have a biodiversity crisis as well” and that these should be linked. 

“Bill 23nd the associated policies, and the erosion of the Greenbelt are really taking away those authorities for us as citizens to have a say, we will not get advice from conservation authorities”

It was also emphasised that when provincially significant wetlands were proposed to be developed, residents stood up which resulted in protections of natural spaces. Attridge went on to highlight an upcoming government of Ontario committee, Standing Committee on Heritage, Infrastructure and Cultural Policy on Bill 23, More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022 that has a deadline of November 17, 2022 at 7pm, and the need to contact provincial politicians as well as provincial employees regarding this Bill. The purpose of the committee is to give detailed consideration of new laws or revisions to existing laws proposed by the Ontario legislature. This committee is made up of 8 Progressive Conservative, 3 New Democratic and 1 Liberal MPPs.

“Dave Smith needs to hear from us that we are really concerned and that this approach is not right for climate change. It's not right for the City of Peterborough. It's not right for protecting biodiversity.” The Canadian Environmental Law Association made a table of Environmental Registry notices which include related policy proposals that can be commented on which Attridge and others raised concerns about. 

Notably, a member of the Peterborough Field Naturalists, Sue Paradisis and another speaker also spoke against the Bill 23.  

“As naturalists we're very, very concerned about Bill 23. Because it's taking almost all of the protections away for wetlands,” Paradisis said.

One of the final speakers talked about the need to show solidarity. If there's a CUPE rally, if there's an affordability rally, if there's a housing rally in Peterborough, we need to show up with those people to show solidarity as well. As of writing, world leaders are still meeting. People around the world are engaged and want climate action.

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