These days, with the summer sun and strawberry shortcakes giving way to earlier twilight and apple pies, the earth is telling us that the season isn’t the only thing that needs to change. You and I, as part of the global climate justice movement, are well aware that people in power must take the seasonal transition as a cue to transition away from climate destruction and towards planetary health and balance. We’re entering the time of year called sllwélsten in the language of the Secwepemc people, on whose unceded land I am an uninvited guest. An absolutely essential part of our climate transition is that we must respect the rights, sovereignty, wisdom, and leadership of Indigenous Peoples. I invite you to read this powerful blog post written by Bernardo Caal Xol, an Indigenous Maya Q’eqchi’ leader, environmental and human rights defender, and teacher who spent over 4 years as a prisoner of conscience in Guatemala.
Over the summer, we’ve seen that the governments of BC and Canada, alongside pipeline companies, police, and banks, continue to prioritize profits over the rights, safety, and dignity of Wet’suwet’en and Secwepemc land defenders. Police are subjecting land defenders to aggressive treatment including surveillance, arbitrary detention, and excessive use of force. This is all despite repeated recommendations and strongly worded letters of concern from the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which continues to call on Canada to stop pipeline construction and to guarantee the rights of land defenders.
Canada is also responsible for environmental and human rights violations in other countries. For one example (among many, many others), Export Development Canada (EDC) is one of the financiers of a hydroelectric dam megaproject, Hidroituango, which nearly collapsed in Colombia. EDC was repeatedly warned of the risks of financing the dam. Four years after the disaster, communities continue to speak up about the human rights abuses, environmental destruction, and other violence caused by the dam. It’s long past time for EDC to take responsibility for its role in the harm done.
What do these and so many other environment-related human rights violations have in common? Their direct connection to Canada’s relentless fossil fuel financing may be the clearest answer. Canada’s fossil fuel exports are among the world’s largest, and the use of public money for this makes Canada a key perpetrator of the devastating harms caused by burning fossil fuels. This, together with the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)’s financing of the Coastal Gaslink pipeline, which is violating the rights of Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs and land defenders, is a deeply troubling display of where Canada’s spending is leading our planet.
There’s plenty more going on in the climate justice community at Amnesty Canada and beyond! Here are some brief notes to get you caught up:
- Following our May 15 workshop, Climate Justice on the Homefront, we’ll be hosting a fossil fuel divestment webinar on Sunday, October 2nd at 4:30pm EST. Please bookmark the event page and check back for details as they become available!
- If you enjoyed our first comic about climate justice and the energy transition, then you’ll be excited to know that there’s another (free!) comic coming your way soon. In the meantime, you can look back at the first one (PDF version here, flip book edition here, and then check out this blog post to learn about just transportation, the focus of our new comic!
- As you may know, COP27 (the 27th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), is coming up this fall. We will be working hard to ensure that human rights play a central role in the conference. You can check out Amnesty Canada’s responses to the failures of COP26 here and here.
That’s the main news for now, but we’d love to have you subscribe to our newsletter to stay informed about Amnesty Canada’s Corporate Accountability and Climate Justice (CACJ) work! If you want to get more involved, you’re invited to join Amnesty Canada’s CACJ Specialized Team! Please email Elena Dumitru at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about the team.
Finally, as we all know, talking about the climate crisis tends to be quite heavy. It can be difficult to end on a cheerful note, but maybe you’ll get a chuckle from the words of humorous poet Ogden Nash:
“I think that I shall never see a billboard lovely as a tree. Perhaps, unless the billboards fall, I’ll never see a tree at all.”
Blog written by Anneka Spice, member of the Climate Justice and Corporate Accountability Specialized Team.