Comox Valley citizens participated in 24 Hours of Realty, the worldwide climate action this week | Dan Vie photo
Comox Valley climate activists join 1,700 discussion events worldwide
While former U.S. Vice President kicked off a worldwide discussion about the climate crisis at Vanderbilt University yesterday, Gore-trained climate activist Will Cole-Hamilton provided a similar keynote presentation for close to 100 people at the Comox United Church Hall.
Cole-Hamilton spoke about global progress in developing solar and wind technologies to replace fossil fuels, how the City of Courtenay has addressed climate change and why growing public sentiment expressed in climate marches are so important.
And he brought the topic down to a personal level. Recalling a recent conversation with one of his young children, Cole-Hamilton had trouble keeping his own emotions in check.
Comox Valley Youth Environmental Action has scheduled another Climate Strike for 1 p.m. Nov. 29 at Courtenay’s Simms Park
When his young daughter announced she never planned to have children, Cole-Hamilton asked why. “Because it’s not fair to bring kids into a world that’s not safe,” she said.
Celia Laval, of the Comox Valley Unitarian Fellowship, a co-organizer of the event, which was one of 1,700 same-day presentations in 75 countries called 24 Hours of Reality: Climate Truth in Action, also acknowledged the seriousness of the issue.
“This is a heavy topic,” she said. “And I’m glad I don’t have to face it alone.”
After Cole-Hamilton’s presentation, participants broke into small groups to discuss the climate crisis and share the practical steps that individuals and neighbourhoods can take to reduce the human impact on climate change.
CLIMATE CRISIS PRESENTATION
Cole-Hamilton started his presentation showing an aerial photo of the Puntledge Road and highway bypass area of Courtenay during the 2014 flood, a rain event that climate scientists predict will become more frequent in the future.
And he showed an old photo of the formerly robust Comox Glacier. Experts now believe that all Vancouver Island glaciers will disappear within 20 years.
But Cole-Hamilton moved on to good news. Many nations have pledged to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the Paris Accord. China and India have generated half or more of their new energy from solar and wind. In the last five years, solar energy jobs have grown six times faster than the overall economy.
In Canada, Cole-Hamilton said, there are now more clean energy jobs than exist in Alberta’s tar sands oil patch.
Cole-Hamilton, who also serves as an elected Courtenay councillor, said he’s proud of how the city is addressing climate change. That includes new electric vehicle charging stations, a ban on single-use plastic bags and declaring a climate emergency.
He said the city’s revision of its Official Community Plan, which is underway, will consider climate change “every step of the way.” The city’s consultants say Courtenay will be the first Canadian city to put the climate crisis at the core of its planning.
WHY JOIN THE CLIMATE MARCH?
More than 3,000 people — nearly five percent of the Comox Valley population — joined 800,000 other Canadians on Sept. 27 in climate marches to demand that governments at all levels do more to reduce human impacts on climate change.
Cole-Hamiltion told the audience that such public displays of public sentiment are more important than people might realize.
When large numbers of people show their support, it gives local governments social license to take positive actions. He noted that all Comox Valley councils and the regional board all declared climate emergencies after the march.
And, he said strong showings are also seen by businesses and other institutions, and they give everyone the strength of conviction to talk about the climate crisis.
“If we continue to grow climate marches, we will change our community,” he said.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE DOING
At the end of the evening, people from the small group discussions talked about the practical actions they are taking to create issue awareness and reduce their carbon footprint.
Those actions ranged from creating more community gardens, to consuming less (Nov. 29 is Buy Nothing Day), supporting local farmers, pledge to have a zero waste Christmas and supporting such local organizations as Project Watershed and Lush Valley.
The list will be posted on the Facebook pages for Comox Valley Unitarian Fellowship and Comox Valley Nurses for Health Environment.
The Comox Valley Nurses for Health and the Environment also co-sponsored the event.
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