Thousands of protesters in Canada and Australia took to the streets this weekend to protest the two countries’ climate change and environmental policies.
In Canada, 130 demonstrations were held in opposition to expanding tar sands and pipeline development in the country. The protests were organized by environmental group Defend Our Climate, and were held in cities and towns across the country. The largest gathering was in Vancouver, where nearly 1,000 protesters gathered to voice their opposition to Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, which would transport about 525,000 barrels of tar sands bitumen each day from Alberta to Kitimat, British Columbia for export to Asian markets.
“Politicians might give the permits, but the people give the permission. And the people are saying ‘no’ to the Enbridge Gateway pipeline and others projects like that,” Ben West, tar sands campaign director for ForestEthics Advocacy, said. “People who have pipelines in their backyard are definitely on the front lines of this fight … But there are also many other Canadians who are concerned about climate change — they’re concerned about Canada’s role in the world, and they’re concerned about doing the right thing.”
About 300 protesters also gathered in Montreal to protest another controversial Enbridge proposal — a plan to reverse the flow of an existing pipeline, so that it would carry tar sands oil east to Montreal. In Northern British Columbia, about 100 people gathered to protest the Northern Gateway Pipeline, and in Edmonton, Alberta, about two dozen people protested tar sands expansion in their province. The protests come as a new survey finds Canadians accept that climate change is happening and are losing confidence that the federal government will act on the issue.
The Canadians were joined by protesters in the Southern hemisphere on Saturday, with an estimated 60,000 Australians calling on Prime Minister Tony Abbott to keep the country’s carbon tax. In Melbourne, about 25,000 people gathered to call for action on climate change, in a protest that was part of the country’s National Day of Climate Action.
— Tim Christodoulou (@tim_chr) November 17, 2013
“The simple truth is this: that we cannot leave a matter as important as climate change to the fickleness and whim of Australia’s politicians,” Tim Flannery, commissioner at Australia’s Climate Council told the crowd in Melbourne. “We must stand up and be counted [and take] every effort to speed the uptake of renewable energy.”
In Sydney, about 10,000 people gathered to protest Abbott’s anti-climate agenda, which has included eliminating the Climate Commission (which later reformed as the privately-funded Climate Council), abandoning Australia’s emissions reduction target and working to repeal the country’s carbon trading scheme.