Taking Collective Action

Taking Collective Action
Last year, I offered up a bunch of individual actions we could take to fight climate change during the holiday season. But, it has become increasingly clear that individual action is not going to be enough to solve this existential problem. We need to take collective action.

This year, I’m stepping things up a bit. Let’s consider taking more collective action to mobilize the masses in the fight against climate change. Here are some ways we can get more involved with our local communities and influence our leaders more effectively at every level of government from mayors of small towns to provincial MLAs and Federal MPs.

It has become painfully obvious throughout this current pandemic that inequity is running rampant throughout our society. We can’t tackle big problems if we are divided. We must support policies that lift everyone out of poverty. We can’t expect people to join our fight when they are worried about where their next meal is coming from. I’m a fan of universal basic income (UBI). Like CERB, it would provide every citizen who needs it with enough money to cover essential needs. No one should go hungry or be without a comfortable home. In the last election, the NDP made a promise for a Guaranteed Livable Income. Hold these politicians accountable and write a letter to your MP and the national leaders. Sign petitions and join the movement to end poverty now. Push the NDP to stick to their promise here: https://www.ubiworks.ca/ndp. With the Liberals holding powers as a minority government, the NDP should be able to make a significant influence with a united force.

Read about how fellow Canadians felt about a guaranteed basic income when lawyer Naomi Sayers posed the question here: https://twitter.com/kwetoday/status/1466195700711051264

The comments are wonderful and I find myself navigating back to this tweet for inspiration. There are over 300 replies and each one of them with valid reasons why a UBI would change Canadian lives for the better.

If you're still not sure about UBI, consider asking leaders for other solutions. Another way to help low income workers would be to eliminate tax on labour and shift it to luxury purchases or put pressure on governments to raise the minimum wage to a living wage immediately.

To make a smooth transition to a zero carbon society we must include the indigenous peoples of this land where we have settled. First and foremost, offer your voice to the growing movement for reconciliation. Learn about the territory you live in and find out about their customs and languages. Consult with indigenous leaders about land and water management. They have lived here for thousands of years and have the most insight about how to tackle these problems. They are also the most affected by climate change and we need to fight with them to protect their homelands. Write and call your government representatives and demand clean water, safe housing, more support to fight poverty, mental health and drug addiction and join local solidarity actions like the Wet'suwet'en blockade. Make yourself aware of the colonial issues they face and then tell the government that you support these peoples in their fighty. For more resources go to:




Even if you drive, support more funding for active and public transport. Not only does it benefit those who can’t afford to drive, it also generates significantly fewer emissions than the personal vehicle. Add your voice to petitions for separate, safe bicycle pathways and more public transit options. The less people driving, the less traffic you’re likely to get stuck in. Support more room for pedestrians and consider how it might benefit your city if a main street was closed to car traffic and opened up for more people to enjoy walking. Study after study has shown that doing this results in an economic benefit to all. Read more about one such study here: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-05-11/the-business-case-for-car-free-streets. Paris and Montreal have made great strides recently taking advantage of Covid restrictions to open up more outdoor public spaces to people permanently. This meant closing many roads to car traffic. Our own government in Canada recently committed $400 million to projects around the country to increase active transport. Join Velo Canada Bikes, a national voice for everyday cycling in Canada.

At a local level in the Kootenays, get involved with the West Kootenay Cycling Coalition here in Nelson. Find out what they’re doing and volunteer on a committee to help implement projects. Write our MP Rob Morrison and tell him you support his plan for passenger rail throughout the Kootenays. Push for more buses, with more routes and more frequency. And support lower speed limits. Not only do these policies make roads safer for all users but driving slower emits fewer emissions. Roads cost a lot to build and maintain. We all pay for them regardless if we drive or not. Public and active transit are part of our zero carbon future. Support the rapid development of these solutions now.

Join an eco action group that is demanding that our government protect our public lands, water and parks, invest in local food production, clean up polluted areas and ban waste. In the Kootenays, inquire about programs you can support at the West Kootenay Eco Society or Youth Climate Corps. The David Suzuki Foundation has built partnerships across Canada and there is also Young Agrarians, which matches young farmers without land with landowners that do. Help push our government to change the rules and finally ban single use plastic, other harmful materials and force appliance manufacturers to make items repairable.

Support group action demanding that the government stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry, put an immediate moratorium on all new fossil fuel projects, raise taxes on polluters and use that money to build a strong renewable industry via wage subsidies and free job training. We should also demand a ban on fossil fuel advertising including advertising for vehicles as suggested in this article by Seth Klien. “As Quebec environmental group Équiterre found in a study released earlier this year, aggressive advertising helps to explain why light-duty vehicles — SUVs, pickups and vans — now account for 80 per cent of new vehicle sales in Canada, which in turn is a big reason greenhouse gas emissions from transportation are still rising.”

Support group action calling for mandatory measures for the building industry. Canada could nationalize the building of affordable housing, retrofit all existing buildings and help eliminate fossil fuel heating within a sustainable timeframe. We should also start building new affordable homes with zero emission standards. We know that it costs less to house people than to pay for the problems that come from managing the homeless. Not to mention that housed people are happier people and there is a better chance they’ll join our fight to stop climate change when they’re not stuck in survival mode.

If there is one thing I have learned this past year navigating the pandemic and endless environmental disasters it is that our government clearly has access to enough money to do the right thing and is capable of implementing public policy quickly. We know that doing nothing is not an option. The cost of climate change is already costing us billions. Forest fires, heat domes, flooding and severe storms are creating refugees within our own country and even killing us. Climate change is not a technical problem, it is a social problem and we CAN afford to fight this. We already have most of the tools required to make a just transition. All we need is strong leadership and we’re not likely to get this without public pressure. Let’s join together with one collective voice and demand the action necessary to meet this urgent challenge.

This holiday season, think about what’s really important. What are some lasting contributions that we can make collectively that will last generations? Let’s make a pact to work TOGETHER in 2022.

PS. I highly recommend that you read Seth Klien's latest book A Good War. This book was a major source of inspiration for this blog.

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