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Cameron Fenton

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A Bad Week to Be a Big Polluter

Posted: 10/24/2012 9:13 am

As I write this thousands of people are gathered in Victoria, B.C. risking arrest to send a clear message that Canada's west coast is united in opposition to the expansion of tar sands pipelines and tanker traffic.

By the time this is online, hundreds more will rally in support of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation's constitutional challenge to Shell's planned Jackpine expansion and Pierre River tar sands mine projects.

In other words, it's a bad week to be a big polluter, or their friends.

These actions are inspirational, and represent the physical manifestation of the growing movement to stop the expansion of fossil fuel projects, to block pipelines from spilling into pristine watersheds, to stop tankers from endangering fragile coastlines and to stand in the way of more and more carbon being dumped into our atmosphere.

But defending, blocking and stopping is only part of the solution. Climate change poses one of, if not the single greatest challenge that our planet and society has ever faced. We need to make deep and profound changes to the systems that power our lives, moving away from those which depend on infinite extraction, expansion and growth to those which represent the just and sustainable world we know that we need.

It's fitting then that a week that begins with a strong defense is going to end on offence. This Friday a thousand youth from across Canada are going to congregate in Ottawa because our generation knows that what politicians and polluters are promising us is not the future we want, or the planet we want to pass on to future generations.

Our generation also knows that we cannot solve the climate crisis, without also addressing the crisis of debt and unemployment that our current economic system lays upon the shoulders of students and youth. We know that addressing climate change means supporting and standing in solidarity with those communities and people on the frontlines of the climate crisis. Whether they are downwind and downstream of polluting projects, having their small farms devastated by extreme weather or living in the ever more fragile North, solutions need not only to limit pollution, but also respect the rights to life and dignity of those people bearing the worst burdens.

There is no one size-fits-all solution to these issues, but that's exactly what PowerShift is all about. It is about bringing together the collective imagination and energy of young people from all across Canada to build solutions that embody our generation's vision of a better world. We likely wont agree on everything, our tactics, fields of engagement and personal pathways may diverge, but if we align our collective momentum, we can build a movement that's power lies in that diversity and in our ability to defend, build and shift the politically possible all at once.

That being said, we do think that there are places to start, and one of those is ending the $1.4 billion that fossil fuel companies are getting in handouts from Canada. Simply put, there are too many better things to spend that funding on than giving it to the richest companies on the planet. Over five thousands people across Canada agreed, and sent messages to their Members of Parliament to make that clear, at PowerShift we are going to double down on that by taking our message to the streets of Ottawa on Monday.

Arundhati Roy is famously quoted as saying that "another world is possible" and it is with that sense of hope and optimism that PowerShift is organized, but we also know that unless we change the status quo another planet will be necessary. I think that we can do it, that we can build a world where our values are worth more than the price of oil, and I'd venture that the thousand youth coming to PowerShift believe we can too.

Do you?

 

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