Greening Niagara has changed their name to Climate Justice Niagara and that has changed my role from being the Green Facilitator for St. James, Dundas to being the Climate Justice Facilitator. The change arose as it was realized that simply being worried about bringing our own bags while shopping, cutting out single use plastics, and trying to drive less, etc. (in other words, individual action) was simply not enough given the disaster we are facing with the changing climate. The negative effects of fires, storms, more disproportionately affect the vulnerable already, and the rapid change in climate patterns is going to affect our children and grandchildren. This is no longer a far-off problem anymore! We need justice!
It was illuminated in a recent Zoom presentation by Ashley Wallis from Environmental Defence that our efforts to recycle only end up with 9% of the waste actually being remade into something else. We were reminded that reducing, repairing and reusing are the most environmentally friendly options. We are also drowning the Earth in plastics that often cannot be recycled. I am proud that our diocese has taken the initiative to ban single use plastics in our parishes. Ashley also encouraged us to get involved with groups like Environmental Defence Canada who are on the ground doing the hard work of connecting with politicians and trying to have government level policies changed to hold corporations accountable for the products and packaging they choose to use.
Most recently we learned from Dr. Diane Saxe, Ontario’s former environmental commissioner, that sadly, Canada is in the top 10 of terrible polluters in the world today and that we are not even close to meeting climate targets set in most of the rest of the world. She was another strong advocate for getting religious groups to stand up and work together to have our voices heard on this moral issue.
If religious leaders do not speak up on moral issues, why would anyone else? We need government officials, policy makers, and corporations to know how much we care about the declining health of the Earth. We need them to see that real change matters and helpful change for the Earth makes good economic sense!
A huge thank you to the Climate Justice Niagara Committee for putting on these two very informative events! Can we help our Earth and use our collective voices effectively? I believe we need to desperately.
Carleon Hardie is a parishioner at St. James, Dundas.