Climate Protests: Worldwide and in Montreal

Cities around the world held climate change rallies today (12/12/09). In total, over 3000 events were held across 130 different countries, and the news coverage is coming up very positive (see after the jump for a selection of videos). Between 40,000 and 100,000 people are reported to have marched in Copenhagen. In Montreal, hundreds of people crowded Philip's Square for the main event billed as a "Save Santa" rally (photos on flikr).

The rally was critical of the Canadian government's current position (no surprise there), but it was also humourous, happy and up-beat. It wrapped up with hundreds of people dancing in the snow in the heart of the downtown.




What Canadians Want

Speeches, signs and songs all echoed sentiments that a recent poll shows spread across the whole of the country: Canadians want to see our government contribute to creating a strong deal in Copenhagen. But if that fails, people are ready to look for other ways to address the problem, regardless of national or international commitments.

Like earlier rallies held in the Fall, the feeling of these rallies is distinct from the other major protests of our era. Unlike the WTO protests, for example, there is a real sense at the climate change rallies that people are there to demonstrate FOR something not against it.

Whether in Copenhagen, Sydney, or Montreal, participants are coming together to show that we are ready to help make positive change possible. These events are as much about showing that support, as about calling laggards to account.

[One the topic of calling laggards to account: at one light hearted moment in Montreal a speaker encouraged everyone there to whip our their cellphones and leave our Prime Minister a message. If you'd like to call yourself, you can reach his office at: 613-992-4211.]

Hope, Hapiness & The Largest Global Demonstrations in History
This year we have seen the largest civil society demonstrations in human history. Crowds from all walks of life have come together in a support of a common cause. We are all worried about climate change, but that is not all we share. We share the hope that a better world is possible, and the happiness of having so many others with whome we share that commitment to change.

Hope and happiness are powerful feelings. The commitment that they cement has created a powerful constituency for change, both here in Canada and around the world. And while we can all do our part, in our homes and communities, there are limits to the power of individuals – no matter how optimistic and motivated we appear in opinion polls. What we need now are politicians who are ready to run with the ball we are throwing them and make large scale change possible. Here's hoping we'll see democracy in action.

If you want to talk to your MP about Canada's position on climate change, you can find them here.






Great Raw Footage of the Copenhagen Event:


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This is a blog for news and views on the future of sustainable cites. A major revamp is in the works. Until then I am keeping this version up as an archive of my past writing.

You can expect occasional updates, but not with the same frequency as in the past.

You can also find my writing on urban redesign and sustainability in ReNew Canada, The Mark, Sustainable Cities Canada, WorldChanging, and other more specialized academic publications.

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