Citizens Stage Peaceful Sit-In for Climate Justice at the Office of John Baird

Dec 3, 2009

Citizens Stage Peaceful Sit-In for Climate Justice at the Office of John Baird

December 3, 2009 (Ottawa, Ontario)–At approximately 10:00 am today, several citizens entered the constituency office of John Baird, Canada’s Minister of Transport, Infrastructure, and Communities. This peaceful occupation follows similar actions that have taken place across Canada in the lead-up to the international climate talks in Copenhagen. The participants are urging the Harper government to take significant action to combat climate change.

"We are deeply frustrated by Canada’s continued foot-dragging in the international climate negotiations, and we fear the consequences of holding back such a critical process will lead to massive human suffering in the years to come,” says Iain Brannigan, a student currently occupying Baird’s office. “We are ashamed and horrified that our country is implicated in such a global atrocity.”

In July of this year the G8 nations, to which Canada is a party, agreed that worldwide temperatures must not exceed 2 degrees Celcius above pre-industrial levels if we are to prevent dangerous and unmanageable climate change. According to the latest report by the IPCC, to have a 50% chance of achieving this target, the developed nations must collectively reduce their emissions by 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020. More recent studies indicate that even these targets are too weak.

While Canada has accepted the science and understands the implications, Prime Minister Harper confirmed on Sunday that he will maintain his commitment of a 3% reduction below 1990 levels by 2020.

“This is a slap in the face to the international community,” says Sumeet Tandon, who is part of a growing crowd of demonstrators outside Baird’s office. “Canada’s weak target implies other developed and developing nations must shoulder the burden of Canada’s continued reckless dumping of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Canada’s position is fundamentally obstructionist in the eyes of the international community and is in effect, sabotaging the negotiations process. Knowingly engaging in such an act is wilfully committing murder on a mass scale.”

The participants are demanding that Minister Baird pledge his support for strong, science based emissions reduction commitments of at least 25% below 1990 levels. They also want Mr. Baird to acknowledge that those least responsible for climate change are also the most vulnerable. Additionally, the participants are asking Minister Baird to hold a public town hall meeting, to explain why his government has not acted on climate change.

“The current government won’t be around thirty years from now, but my generation will have to suffer the consequences of their inaction. We are running out of time and so we must engage in peaceful civil disobedience,” says Natasha Peters, a student at the University of Ottawa. “Canada is getting pushed further and further into the trap of a dirty carbon economy, but with ambitious policies in Copenhagen we can build the green economy of tomorrow.  It is time for our government to listen.”

The sit-in at John Baird’s office is ongoing. Members of the public are invited to join the demonstrations outside Minister Baird’s office at 2249 Carling Avenue, Ottawa Ontario.

For More Information, Contact:
Iain Brannigan: (613) 668-7275
Sumeet Tandon: (613) 883-2396