A small group holds a local discussion on what policies they would approve – and disapprove – in a Green New Deal, a concept popularized in the U.S. and recently imported to Canada to make demands of various levels of government to address the climate crisis. Dustin Godfrey/Abbotsford News

Abbotsford group meets to kick off local Green New Deal talks

Organizer says climate movement started small locally, but hopes to expand moving forward

A handful of people showed up to an event to kick off a local dialogue on how to contribute to a national “Green New Deal” to push governments to tackle the climate crisis head on.

The Green New Deal was popularized in the U.S., but has recently taken root north of the border, with organizers hoping to develop a Canadian document with green policies that can be taken to governments at all levels.

Climate advocates have called for a Second World War-level mobilization to address the climate crisis following an International Panel on Climate Change report last fall that painted a drastic picture of the current climate crisis.

Localized dialogues are being held throughout the country to add grassroots input into the process, including Abbotsford, where about a dozen people showed up to a small meeting room in the Clearbrook Library.

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Organizer Amrit Randay said he decided to get involved due to “constantly being anxious about the world, and being anxious about where we’re headed … in terms of climate, where we’re headed in terms of racism, the rise of white supremacy, and the growing income inequality and wealth disparity in North America and in the world in general.”

“All these issues are not separate. You don’t just fight racism. You don’t just fight for the rights of Indigenous people. You don’t just fight for this. It’s all intersectional,” Randay said. “There’s all these facets that play into the climate crisis, and I feel like in order to properly tackle the climate crisis, we need to address all the issues that are being perpetuated by our current system.”

Randay said he was fine with seeing just a handful of people show up to Saturday’s event, as it’s his first foray into political organizing, but he added that he hoped to see more diversity.

Although the attendees, came from a spectrum of experience with political involvement – from first-timers to advocacy since the 1950s – he hoped to see more age groups represented, as well as more Indigenous representation.

But he said that could be improved by broadcasting the event better, and hopes to expand in the future.

Each town hall is asked to develop “green lines” – things that people would like to see contributing to a green economy – and “red lines” – things people would like to see an end to – to contribute to a national list.

Among the green lines added to the local list at the meeting in Abbotsford were public investment in renewables and well-paying jobs in renewable energy, a ban on single-use plastic and an end to government subsidies of non-renewable energy.

Among the red lines, Randay said, were new or expanded fossil fuel infrastructure, fracking and clear-cutting old growth forests.

Randay said he feels the event has kicked off a bit of momentum for a local Green New Deal movement.

“I want to make sure that we get this ball rolling and we make politicians in Abbotsford care [about climate change],” he said.

He expects to be organizing more meetings on that topic, and the group expects to begin supporting other local movements like the group taking part in the Fridays for Future climate strikes.

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Dustin Godfrey | Reporter

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