A group of around 160 people gathered at the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly downtown on Friday to spread awareness about the climate emergency and demand all levels of government take immediate action.
The rally was held by Extinction Rebellion N.B. and partner organizations, such as environmental groups, labour unions and the N.B. Media Co-op.
David Coon, the MLA for Fredericton-South, addressed the crowd. He said mankind has reached a turning point in human civilization.
“We’ve had years of denial, years of procrastination, years of fear. That has reduced the time we’ve got left to ensure that transition is planned,” said Coon.
Coon said the Higgs government denies the need for urgent action on climate change. The Higgs government turned down federal funds for public transportation, although it would help cut down fossil fuels, said Coon.
Coon and his colleagues have been pressing the issues of climate change at the legislature. They are calling for an emergency debate and will present bills and solutions.
“We need to work with our neighbours, with our allies, with our family members, with members of our community to organize, to advocate, to act up, to demand the kind of just transition we’ve been talking about here today,” said Coon.
Danny Legere, president of the New Brunswick Federation of Labour, said consumers should be buying food locally, so it doesn’t carry an environmental footprint. He said the same thing goes for the vehicles consumers drive – they should choose a greener, more fuel-efficient option.
“Beyond governments at all levels having to do their share, companies and corporations have to do theirs and we as individuals also have to take responsibility for our choices,” said Legere.
Lise Auffray was another attendee at the rally, she is a member of the Coalition for Responsible Energy Development in N.B. which is affiliated with Extinction Rebellion.
Auffray was passing around a petition she created a few months ago. She made the petition in hopes of reaching all levels of government, starting with the minister of environment and minister of natural resources.
The petition has five goals Auffray said need to be implemented including closing down the Belldune Coal Plant by 2030; stopping all fossil fuel project funding and providing paid training in clean renewable energy for impacted workers; stopping all clear-cutting and spraying; stopping funding for small modular nuclear reactors and investing that money into clean renewables such as solar, tidal, wind and geothermal; and enforcing regulations to ensure the ultra-rich polluters pay to mitigate their emission damages.
Kelly Green, campaign leader of Divest STU, an environmental conservation organization, said divestment campaigns are used to call upon institutions to step up as leaders in the climate crisis. There is also a parallel campaign running at the University of New Brunswick.
Green said divesting is the act of halting investments into the fossil fuel industry.
“Divestment is one of the most powerful steps an educational institution can take to push the national and international discourse on climate change,” said Green.
Green said as of March, STU invested approximately $884,000 into oil, coal and gas companies as part of a long-term investment fund. STU’s plan is to sell these investment holdings and change them into renewable energy and sustainable developments, said Green.
“As an institution of higher learning [that] is shaping the minds of future generations … I strongly believe it’s part of our universities to become part of the solution and not part of the problem,” said Green.
Valeria Boquin, a fourth-year STU student, said she likes attending rallies to hear what people have to say on the matter.
Boquin said it’s important to support climate justice in N.B. because it’s her home. While she isn’t originally from Canada, the climate injustice in this country concerns her.
She believes the actions that are being taken by politicians in the province are not enough.
“Their decisions are also affecting the human rights of other individuals,” said Boquin. “It’s on us to ask for this justice, not just the climate, but also for human rights.”