This weekend, environmental groups around the world will march locally as part of the Global Climate March initiatives, set to coincide with the Sustainable Innovation Forum. The forum, taking place as part of the Conference of Parties in Paris, is the culmination of work from Climate Action and the UN Environment Programme, and will convene participants from business, government, finance, UN NGOs and civil society. Leaders at the conference, the most important one since the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol in 2002, will discuss how to set and meet goals to mitigate climate change. Those participating in the Global Climate March aim to show the world and those participating at SIF15 the demand for broad and bold climate action.
The Hamilton march, dubbed Hamilton2Paris, will take place this Sunday, Nov. 29, and will be the largest climate change rally the city has ever seen. As such the event serves as not only a demand for political changes in regards to climate change policy, but also to disseminate information to the public and to get different groups together to form an interdisciplinary approach to combat climate change. Agnes Richard, outreach coordinator for Hamilton2Paris, already qualifies the event as a success. “I could say right now that we are successful … we tied together groups that haven’t worked together before.”
Such groups include Food Not Bombs, the Hamilton Labour Council and the Ontario Secondary School Teacher’s Federation, as well as Indigenous and religious groups.
“[Hamilton2Paris] is also about creating awareness and promoting sustainability in Hamilton. For example, community car share [aims] to give alternative options for transportation, allowing people alternative ways to get to where they need to be. Our initiative is basically giving people the option to divest from their normal ways. It’s about transition and advocacy, creating momentum to create a community of change,” said Robyn Sifton, social media manager for Hamilton2Paris.
Various prominent Hamiltonian climate change activists will speak at City Hall. Among them are Peter Hopperton, a G20 activist who is leading an anti-capitalist group in the march, and Danielle Boissoneau, a First Nations speaker and Indigenous Peace Education Outreach Coordinator.
Following the speeches, participants will be asked to take a pledge meant to continue the momentum of the rally. Part of the pledge asks participants to contact their Members of Parliament to ensure that they remain committed to the outcomes of SIF15. However, Hamilton2Paris won’t be a completely somber event, with poets and musicians scheduled to perform.
On why McMaster students should join the rally, Waverly Birch, a member of Fossil Free McMaster, mentioned the large scope. “[Hamitlon2Paris] is part of a global climate march, so it’s going to be bigger than just going out to do something on campus. If [climate change] is something someone’s really interested in, that is a good way to get involved.”
The march will also be a networking opportunity for students interested in pursuing fields related to climate change. Conner Hurd, coordinator of Fossil Free McMaster, added, “If I was a business student, I would really want to get involved with [Tim Nash, a sustainable economist] just because I feel as if fossil fuels is sort of a sunset industry and he manages investments for companies.”
Agnes Richard emphasized that students should join the fight against climate change now because it will affect their career. “Climate change has the potential to upset our whole economy. So students who are focused on one set of course studies with the intent of developing a career have to look sideways and realize that as all-encompassing as that is for them right now, by the time you get ten or 15 years out all those plans could be completely changed.”
“Given that, connecting with the community is a good way to provide yourself with avenues to find alternatives to a career path … By looking outside your specific focus, even briefly, [it] gives you the tentacles out into the community that you can pull on later,” said Richard.
McMaster students interested in joining the rally should meet the Fossil Free McMaster group at south side of Victoria Park (King W and Locke N) at 2:30 p.m. The rally itself starts outside City Hall at 3 p.m. To show solidarity, students are encouraged to wear orange or maroon.