On Sunday I participated with hundreds of thousands across the globe, with more than 600 000 people in 175 countries joining together and calling for strong action from governments at the Paris Climate Conference. Taking to the streets in Vancouver, where thousands of citizens lined the streets, I witnessed people of all ages coming together for an afternoon of activism and hope.
The event began with a series of speakers sharing their perspectives on why taking action on climate change matters to them. A whole range of backgrounds were represented, underscoring the fact that climate change affects everyone. So many voices were represented, from different communities and customs; beliefs and faiths. The demonstration continued by moving onto the street, circling around parts of the downtown core. Music and signs waved along, with many passerby stopping for a photo or even joining in. It was energizing, but I still have more questions.
I believe that an event such as The Great Climate March brings awareness of the need to revisit how we view our place in world. It is encouraging to see so people from all ages take part. This is not to say that everything will change from just one event; there are many questions remaining. On the surface level how can a demonstration be planned so no vehicles are stranded and forced to idle or how can this become more inclusive so everyone, anywhere can participate? But this dialogue can grow deeper, and more uncomfortable questions emerge; for example how does the call to switch to 100% renewable energy sidestep the real problem of why do we need to use so much energy in the first place?
I feel that true solutions can only happen when we allow the space for a deeper discussion, to create an open atmosphere where all sides are heard and respected. It is great to reach out to a wide audience, but there has to be room for growth. I am hopeful that this is a step in the right direction.