Climate justice activists occupy House of Commons meeting

Dec 8, 2009

Climate justice activists occupy House of Commons meeting

On the second day of the UN Climate Negotiations in Copenhagen, climate justice activists occupied a meeting of the House of Commons' Environment Committee, calling on Canada to adhere to its Kytoto Protocol targets and to stop production in the Alberta tar sands.

Six youth members of People for Climate justice entered the committee meeting room. Removing their street clothes they revealed t-shirts with the words 'Climate Action Now.' They were able to move forward and sit-down briefly in the meeting room before being quickly removed by security. All six were detained for about an hour and charged with trespassing, which carries a fine. It is unclear whether the charges will be contested. One protester had all her photos of the event deleted from her camera with no justification given.

Kawina Robichaud, a Yukon Territory resident who took part in the action, said it came in response to "government inaction" on climate change.

The group is calling on the government to agree to meet their Kyoto Protocol targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by six per cent by 2012 and to immediately stop all development of the Alberta tar sands. The Conservative government has set its own target of 20 per cent below 2006 levels by 2020, which is much lower than what most believe is necessary to have an impact on climate change. Tar sands development accounts for five per cent of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions and have been identified as a key roadblock to Canada meeting its Kyoto Protocol targets. They are considered the single largest reason Canada's greenhouse gas emissions are increasing, and, on average, production of one barrel of oil from the tar sands produces fives times more GHG emissions than conventional oil sources.

Between 1990 and 2007, Canada saw its emissions increase more than 26 per cent.

Both yesterday and today, Canada was awarded a Fossil Fool award in Copenhagen for blocking negotiations on eliminating climate change. Yesterday, Greenpeace members scaled the parliament building and unfurled banners reading "Stop Climate Inaction" and "Shut Down the Tar Sands."

"We're there because millions are dying around the world and the government doesn't seem to care. We feel like we don't have any other choice," said Robichaud, contacted shortly after the sit-in by The Dominion. "The government's continued failure to act is a crime against humanity and all life around the world."

More to come