Montrealers Protest Against Fossil Fuels

Hundreds Gather as Part of a Global Protest of California Climate Summit

With the global climate summit taking place in California next week, protesters were hoping global leaders take notice when addressing climate change. Photo Caitlin Yardley

“Mister Trudeau, now the damage just got worst, you have bought yourself a pipeline that is bound one day to burst,” sang the Raging Grannies activists, to the tune of My Darling Clementine.

“If buying dirty tar sands and you sign away the Earth, or cut the carbon, save the planet! There is just no other way.”

A few hundred people gathered at the Centre des Sciences de Montréal to protest fossil fuels this Saturday. The rally—hosted by 350 Canada and Leap Montreal—was one of over 800 events held globally to put pressure on world leaders attending the global climate summit in California next week to make strides towards addressing climate change.

The protesters hoped to draw attention to the issue as federal MPs just returned to parliament on Tuesday from summer recess.

In Quebec, Radio Canada reported the provincial government will be opening up gas drilling for companies and subsidizing it with the Fonds Vert, a portfolio set aside for the protection of the environment and the “fight against climate change.”

Nicolas Chevalier from Leap Montreal said it’s misleading for the government to frame this as a ‘transition’ to sustainable energy.

“Natural gas is a fossil fuel much like the tar sands so it’s not a transition, it’s building another dependency which we don’t need and it’s not just,” said Chevalier.

The rally gave a platform for local activists to talk about their own experiences in the face of climate change action. Quebec’s Center for Environmental Law, and environmental groups like Coule Pas Chez Nous, as well as rap battles for social justice, were all there.

Nancy Brown said Prime-minister Justin Trudeau and his government have been ignoring what the people of Canada and the Supreme Court want. Photo Caitlin Yardley

“The era of fossil fuels has passed. We need to leave it in the ground,” said Geneviève Richard, from the campaign on Jurassic Gaz and the board of Coule Pas Chez Nous.

Between 2006 and 2010 there 24 wells in Quebec were fracked, some without consultation of the public or Indigenous peoples, since laws give companies the right to implement themselves without consent. Landowners can be expropriated if they refuse to give access to their land for the exploitation of oil.

Richard also spoke out about the “devastation of the territory which amputates the link between First Nations and their land and perpetuates colonial violence,” making it impossible for them to exercise sovereignty on their territory.

Richard went on to describe many of the long-term effects fossil fuels have on the environment, like the amount of water wasted moving the oil and the methane gasses released when wells leak.

“What we need to remember is that there are alternatives to hydrocarbon fossils but not to water or our air,” she said.

When oil is burned it produces CO2, but when it leaks it releases methane gasses which are much more pollutant in greenhouse effects. “These gasses roast our planet,” Richard said.

In its current state, fossil fuel is more harmful for climate than any other hydrocarbon, including charcoal, continued Richard.

Bianca Mugyenyi, the Co-Executive Director of The Leap, said that climate change and social justice go hand-in-hand because they both stem from a system that places profit before people.

Protestors gathered on Saturday against fossil fuels Photo Caitlin Yardley

“We know the richest countries in the world are burning moats of carbon that’s now causing the floods, the fires, the draughts, and the storms we’re seeing sweep across the globe,” she said.

“The time for small change is over. The science is indisputable, enough is enough.”

One Raging Granny, Nancy Brown, can’t believe that they still have to fight for climate change over 20 years after forming. She said that Trudeau and his government have been ignoring what the people of Canada and the Supreme Court want.

Though the project for Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline is suspended, the Liberals still plan on buying it, which Brown said is really coming out of the pockets of Canadian taxpayers.

“Trudeau speaking on our behalf makes no sense at all,” said Brown. “Indigenous people have not been listened to, the environmental review was shoddy at best, and he needs to take a breath and look at renewable energies as the way to go.”

Brown said that though she finds it great that people are coming together, the power truly lies in government as they decide where to put money and draft up laws.

“We need to be forced into protecting the planet so let’s do it,” she said. “We’re hoping that Trudeau and other leaders will listen and really start moving towards concrete, specific actions to use renewable energy sources rather than fossil fuels.”

But, Chevalier believes that true change does not come from above but rather from the grassroots.