Vigils took place across the province on Monday, December 13th, to remember and honour those who have lost their lives because of climate disasters.
This year in B.C. alone, we saw record breaking heat, drought, fires that destroyed communities, a tornado and torrential rain that caused flooding and landslides.
Sue Cairns of the East Kootenay Climate Hub explained that the vigil in Cranbrook was held outside of Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka’s office, with around 15 attendees.
“There were approximately 24 vigils held across the province, to recognize the lives lost in 2021 to climate disasters,” said Cairns. “Climate events have intensified because of climate change. We wanted to remember those who lost their lives as well as present a call to action.”
She said that the group asked for Shypitka’s support to bring ten climate actions through the government.
“Tom was very supportive and mentioned calling for more transparency on carbon taxation,” recalled Cairns.
According to the Wilderness Committee, 595 people died in this summer’s heatwave, many of whom were seniors. Add to that two deaths from the wildfire in Lytton and four deaths because of the recent landslides.
More than 353 organizations that represent over a million British Columbians have signed an open letter calling on the provincial government to confront the climate emergency by implementing ten urgent climate actions.
The actions are as follows:
1. Set binding climate pollution targets based on science and justice
2. Invest in a thriving, regenerative, zero emissions economy
3. Rapidly wind down all fossil fuel production and use
4. End fossil fuel subsidies and make polluters pay
5. Leave no one behind
6. Protect and restore nature
7. Invest in local, organic, regenerative agriculture and food systems
8. Accelerate the transition to zero emission transportation
9. Accelerate the transition to zero emission buildings
10. Track and report progress on these actions every year
Cairns says that there are only 3000 days left until the end of the decade, “when our emissions must be cut in half to limit climate change”.
She adds that there is something missing from the ten asks - climate adaptation and preparedness.
“It is absolutely critical in helping to reduce future deaths and losses,” said Cairns.
The East Kootenay Climate Hub will be working on hosting several events in the new year including a presentation from Iron and Earth about a just transition as well as climate adaptation and preparedness.
Cairns invites residents and members of the public to join the East Kootenay Climate hub to either follow the conversations or to take a more active role.
“It’s up to us,” she said. “Our kids won’t have the choice. The choice is ours.”
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