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Local environmental group to urge political action

A rally is planned for Sunday, June 4, 2 PM at St. Catharines City Hall; 'Local politicians can’t throw their hands in the air as if it’s someone else’s problem to deal with'
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(Stock photo)

Local climate change advocates are demanding that politicians demonstrate less talk, and more action. 50by30Niagara, a local environmental group, has organized a rally for Sunday, June 4, from 2 to 4 PM, in front of St. Catharines City Hall, located at 50 Church Street. All are welcome.

“In March, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres challenged governments around the world to make 2023 a year of ‘transformation, not tinkering,’ by addressing the issue of climate change with actions and policies that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We have all the tools we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” says Pelham resident Herb Sawatzky, the coordinator of the 50by30Niagara initiative.

50by30Niagara is challenging the Niagara Region and its 12 municipalities to reduce emissions 50 percent by 2030, and eliminate all emissions by 2050. The group maintains that municipal emissions come primarily from buildings, transportation, municipal waste, agriculture, and industry, with approximately 80 percent coming from just buildings and transportation. Municipalities and individuals can eliminate emissions with energy retrofits, and connecting to fossil fuel-free energy sources.

Protecting and enhancing existing green infrastructure is another area of focus for 50by30Niagara.

“Our urban forests help cool our communities, and they store carbon. Our wetlands help prevent flooding and are carbon sinks. These assets deserve increased protection,” says Dahlia Steinberg, a member of 50by30Niagara.

Liz Benneian, chair of Biodiversity and Climate Action Niagara, noted that the wildfires in western Canada are occurring much more frequently due to climate change.

“Ontario skies were darkened for days this month as the smoke from more than 500,000 hectares of burned Alberta forest drifted across Canada. Whether it’s smoke from Alberta or flooding in Fort Erie, we are seeing the impacts of the climate crisis in our region on a daily basis,” she said. “The climate crisis is a global issue, but local politicians can’t throw their hands in the air as if it’s someone else’s problem to deal with. They aren’t powerless. They have means to implement local solutions that reduce our own greenhouse gas emissions.”

Another Pelham resident and one-time Town Council candidate, Colleen Kenyon, a member of 50by30Niagara, said that as the Government of Ontario continues to strip away environmental protections, residents must look to their municipal governments for leadership and long-term solutions.

“The climate rally on June 4 is a chance to make sure that the politicians who have been elected in the Niagara Region hear what is expected of them: real action on the climate crisis demonstrated by their policies, actions, and willingness to make the hard decisions that protect our environment.”

Sawatzky said that “this is about the kind of world we are leaving to our children and grandchildren. Politicians will act on what their constituents care about. We need to demonstrate that we care about this.”

Further information on the rally is available from Herb Sawatzky ([email protected]) and Colleen Kenyon ([email protected]).

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Don Rickers

About the Author: Don Rickers

A life-long Niagara resident, Don Rickers worked for 35 years in university and private school education. He segued into journalism in his retirement with the Voice of Pelham, and now PelhamToday
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