More than thirty thousand braved wet weather to gather at Queen’s Park in downtown Toronto and then march to send a message to the leaders of the G8/G20 summits. The message to the G8/G20 leaders was: stop climate change, end fossil fuel subsidies, create good green jobs and a green energy system and improve social justice.
Led by Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo, several hundred Greenpeace supporters, staff and activists marched with a banner saying: “Invest in the Future Now,” and with placards proclaiming “There Is No Planet B.”
The messages supported Kumi’s rousing speech at the beginning of the rally. He told the cheering crowd that their passion for social justice is what the world knows about the real Canada. He said the Stephen Harper government does not represent Canadians, to great cheers.
Kumi emphasized in his speech the main Greenpeace ask that the G20 leaders honour their commitment to end fossil fuel subsidies. This is another broken promise by the G20.
Right now G20 and other developed countries subsidize fossil fuels to the tune of $100 billion a year; subsidies that have fuelled the environmental catastrophe of the BP Deepwater disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and the ongoing disaster of the tar sands in Alberta.
The $100 billion in fossil fuel subsidies is exactly the figure these same leaders agreed to provide to developing countries annually to help them adapt to climate change. Somehow they find the billions for the fossil fuel industry but not for the people who need to be protected from the catastrophic climate change that will result from the world’s addiction to fossil fuels.
Kumi also emphasized the need for the G20 leaders to do more to address social justice issues. He said the G20 leaders found trillions of dollars to bail out the banks. But they can’t find a fraction of that money to address the urgent need to stop climate change, to improve social justice, to fight poverty and to make a better future for our children.
He talked about his visit Thursday to the tar sands where he found the destruction of the Boreal forest is a thousand times worse than his worst fears. He also visited Fort Chipewyan where as he said he saw first hand how climate change is also a human rights issue.
In his speech, he also celebrated the coming together through the rally of environmental groups, social justice groups, labour and students and emphasized that G20 leaders can be moved to act through the united voice of people passionately committed to social justice.
Read our briefing document: A climate change agenda for Canada