Rosslanders and other West Kootenay residents made their voices heard on Monday night at MP Richard Canning’s Climate Action Town Hall at the Prestige in Rossland.
Approximately 100 people turned out for the event, sharing their views and ideas for Cannings to take back to the House of Commons in Ottawa. Rev. Greg Powell, minister of the United Church in Castlegar and a member of the West Kootenay EcoSociety board of directors, and Laura Sacks, a member of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, moderated the public input portion of the evening, and the Sounds of the Heart Doukhobor Ladies Choir set the tone for the evening by singing hymns about peace and unity.
Cannings started the evening off by giving some background on the federal government’s current approach to climate action. The government currently has four working groups working with indigenous peoples and other members of the public. Both the town hall in Rossland and a town hall held in Nelson in May were part of a larger effort to gather input from Canadians that will eventually go into a report the working groups will give to the Ministerial tables in September. The four groups are developing options for the following: how and where to reduce emissions; clean technology, innovation and job creation; how to prepare for the impacts of a changing climate; and putting a price on carbon.
Many who attended the town hall in Rossland were in favour of carbon taxes rather than a cap-in-trade agreement, including Councillor Aaron Cosbey. Cosbey spoke in favour of a carbon tax as a private citizen, but also spoke on behalf of the City of Rossland. He said that the city supports a move toward renewable energy and lowering emissions, but also said, “It’s not enough. We saw the figures that Richard put up on the screen. We saw the targets that were agreed to in Paris: two degrees or 1.5 if we can get there.”
Cannings not only shared the targets in the Paris Agreement, which Canada has signed, but also shared that Canada’s temperature has risen 1.6°C since 1880, while the global temperature has risen 0.85°C since 1880. “We must act now. We’re going to be affected more than most of the world,” said Cannings.
Rosslanders and other residents of the West Kootenay shared some of their ideas for how individuals can contribute to lowering emissions. One woman encouraged those present to lower their meat consumption as livestock agriculture accounts for 18 per cent of green house gas emissions. “I think a lot of us are frustrated because there are things some of us can’t do: buying electric cars, putting solar panels on. The frustration with government and tar sands and natural gas, things like that. It seems a little bit overwhelming, but there is something that every single individual can do, which is a huge, huge aspect of climate change that never comes up in these discussions, and it’s meat agriculture,” she said.
A number of solutions focused on what West Kootenay residents can do as consumers. Tennille St. John, owner of a local salon, challenged other local business owners to make better choices and bring in products that are better for the environment so that consumers can then choose to support those businesses that are more environmentally responsible. St. John also suggested starting a sustainable business community in Rossland.
Many speakers shared their views at the town hall and it’s impossible to recap everything here, but volunteer Tammy McLean took diligent notes during the meeting so that Cannings can take everyone’s suggestions back to the House of Commons. Those who could’t attend, but are still interested in sharing their thoughts and suggestions with the federal government, can do so by visiting letstalkclimateaction.ca.