KAMLOOPS - As world leaders prepare to negotiate at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change beginning Nov. 30 in Paris, a group of Kamloops residents will host one of nearly 2,000 events across the globe to pressure leaders to avoid the catastrophic consequences of climate change. The Kamloops Climate Rally will be held from 1 to 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 29, at Riverside Park Bandshell, as part of Avaaz’s Global Climate March.
Kamloopsians are urging Prime Minister Trudeau to show leadership at the world summit, to truly signal a ‘Real Change’ from Canada’s reputation as an impediment to progress at past UN talks. We are calling for 100% clean energy and an ambitious, binding agreement that will reduce emissions and avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
“Think global and act local” is the message that organizers want to share, through showcasing local examples of sustainability leadership and creating an atmosphere of hope and empowerment for our community. Several Kamloops projects demonstrate that the shift to renewable energy is already underway. The Sun Rivers community is powered by sustainable geothermal energy, the City of Kamloops is installing solar panels at the West Highlands Park Community Centre and an innovative approach to solar energy at Thompson Rivers University contributed to their recent recognition as one of the most sustainable campuses in Canada.
Meanwhile GabEnergy, a non-profit solar organization, is currently installing B.C.’s largest residential solar array in the Kamloops area. Dr Michael Mehta of GabEnergy and a geography professor at TRU describes the project: “This 34 kW net-metered array will provide power for the homeowner, and it is equivalent to the electrical needs of four average homes. The array is ground-mounted on a DIY wood frame system, does not require batteries, and it produces electricity on a levelized cost basis over 30 years at less than what BC Hydro charges residential customers currently.”
Organizers are inviting residents to support climate action here in Kamloops. Cheryl Kabloona, Chair of the B.C. Sustainable Energy Association, Kamloops Chapter, will appear before Kamloops City Council on Dec. 1, asking for Council to prioritize the development of a Community Energy and Emissions Plan. “We want to reduce our emissions, save money on energy, and build a strong, low-carbon local economy. A plan gives us a roadmap to reach our goals.”
Kamloops 350 is another group behind the Rally. “We are dedicated to educating on climate change impact, and fostering individual and community actions that reduce emissions,” says group member Marcia Dick. “It is fantastic to be part of a community and global effort to protect our future.”
There is a sense of urgency to act on climate change, as the impacts are already being felt around the world and in B.C. At a recent TRU Sustainability Office Films for Change event hosted by Kamloops 350, Dr. Crystal Huscroft, a geomorphologist at TRU and member of Kamloops Moms For Clean Air (KMFCA), highlighted a recent study that showed that two thirds of the glaciers in B.C. will have disappeared by as early as 2030. The decrease in snow pack will have implications for water supplies that sustain agriculture, hydropower, industry, fisheries and our communities. More frequent extreme weather events are also expected to have a profound impact on the province.
Another KMFCA member, Gina Morris, explained "Smoke from larger and more frequent forest fires, as well as dust, pollens and molds from increased drought and flooding events will lead to a continued increase in respiratory problems and health impacts, especially in vulnerable individuals like our children. At this event we have the chance to speak up for future generations. It is time to take action.”
Diverse individuals and organizations are showing their support for climate action. Paul Lagace, Executive Director of Kamloops Immigrant Services who provide settlement services for newcomers, is encouraging staff and clients to attend: “It’s really important to support efforts to redress climate challenges so that we can welcome our newcomers to a healthy living environment that will sustain generations to come.”
Jordan Robinson, a 4th year TRU Bachelor of Science student, poet and activist from Cold Lake First Nations will be attending the rally. He highlights the threat to traditional uses of the environment that have sustained local people for many generations: "It's not just that forest over there, that's my forest where I get my medicine." Globally, the International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC) is advocating for a human rights' centred approach to climate action and organizing an Indigenous Pavilion during the Paris Conference.
The Kamloops Climate Rally will provide a space for Kamloops to show support for action on climate change. Residents are being encouraged to walk, bike, take transit or carpool to attend the family friendly event and are advised to dress warmly and bring their own mug for hot drinks, courtesy of Red Beard Cafe. There will be short, inspiring speeches, music and a chalk mural for children. The crowd will stand in the formation of a green heart at the confluence of the Thompson Rivers for a photo, which will be shown at Le Bourget, Paris alongside pictures from similar demonstrations across the globe. Participants are invited to sign a banner which will be sent to PM Trudeau, as well as write a personal message to Kamloops City Council.
The Kamloops Climate Rally has been organized with support from a number of local organizations, including Kamloops 350, the BC Sustainable Energy Association, the Kamloops Adult Learners’ Society, Council of Canadians, Transition Kamloops, InCar, Kamloops Immigrant Services and Kamloops Moms For Clean Air, as well as many individual volunteers. Those wishing to volunteer are requested to email: firstname.lastname@example.org.