British Columbia

U.S.-inspired Green New Deal pact launches across Canadian cities

Rallies are planned across the country on Monday to make climate action an election issue, inspired by a U.S. movement called Green New Deal.

Activists call for move away from fossil fuels by 2030 while protecting jobs

Smokestack coming out of a chimney.
The Pact for a Green New Deal, which launches this week across Canadian cities, aims to cut emissions dramatically in the next decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Rallies are planned across the country on Monday to make climate action an election issue, inspired by the U.S. movement in support of a stimulus program known as the Green New Deal.

In Canada, the non-partisan coalition Pact for a Green New Deal is calling for a move away from fossil fuels and to cut emissions in half by 2030 while protecting jobs.

The group launches in three cities this week, including Vancouver, bringing together high-profile figures including environmental activist David Suzuki, Grand Chief Philip Stewart and musician Dan Mangan.   

"Basically, it's calling for a very fast and far-reaching transition away from fossil fuels," said Nayeli Jimenez, a youth organizer involved in the movement. 

"This basically just puts, at the forefront, the issue as an election issue in front of our politicians to actually take action."

Jimenez, 28, is one of the organizers with the youth-led climate justice movement Our Time that is calling for a Green New Deal.

"The federal government has proven that we need something called a 'crisis' or an 'emergency' and they can actually pull the resources to act really fast," she told CBC's The Early Edition.

"That's what climate change should be: it is an urgent crisis and it is right here, right now."

Students protest in Vancouver last Friday, part of the global Climate Strike movement to draw attention to a threat to their futures. Nayeli Jimenez emphasized the role of youth in pushing for change. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Town halls across the country

The Green New Deal is essentially a road map to shift the Canadian economy. The plan, she emphasized, has to address issues like economic inequality, green transportation and job creation.

She wants all Canadians to be part of the conversation.

"As we build this diverse movement, we are going to host town halls all across the country so that every day Canadians can actually come and have a say in what that looks like," she said. 

"Once that gets built, it will be brought to politicians to put pressure on them so it becomes the centre of the election."

The Green New Deal movement is catching fire across the border as well. U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey are pictured at a news conference on Feb. 7 for their proposed Green New Deal to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in 10 years. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Change comes partly at the ballot box, Jimenez said, but also wants to ensure those who can't vote are also included.

She has been living in Canada for a decade, after immigrating from Mexico, but can't vote.

"That doesn't mean I don't have a say," she said. "Climate impacts don't care about borders or [immigration] status."

The Pact for a Green New Deal also launches in Montreal and Toronto this week.

With files from The Early Edition