How I am fighting for climate justice in Toronto

For the group that I am part of, Climate Justice Toronto, it was really important for us to identify capitalism, white supremacy and colonialism as the root causes of climate change.

In the climate movement for so long, it was focused on individual behavior change. Things like switching light bulbs, and riding bikes. The environmental movement has been around since the 60s and while we’ve seen progress, we’ve been unable to win the systemic change we call for. 

We’re seeing the effects of climate change already – flooding, heat waves, ice storms as well as aspects of climate barbarism – the idea that wealth and resources are being hoarded by the wealthy for when those resources become scarce. These will all be exacerbated as the Climate Crisis grows.

One major consequence of the Climate Crisis will be global displacement. Our cities have always been places of migration but today, our migration system is more and more restrictive and even hostile. We haven’t reached a state of mass climate migration – but we will – it will displace millions of people as communities become unlivable. 

Cities contribute the largest to our global emissions therefore, cities also play a huge role in taking in people that have been displaced by a crisis that they’ve largely contributed to. 

In fact, as cities grow to be more resilient – adopting the Green New Deal – there will be demands for growth in new jobs. Global displacement as an outcome of Climate Change is part of the harsh reality of the climate crisis but cities are in unique positions to welcome migrants into cities and grow new communities together.

The effects of climate change will impact those most marginalized in our communities first. I think about the flooding we see on Toronto Island, unbearable ice storms or the recent heatwave that hit Western Canada. The majority of the fatalities from these incidents are seniors and children.

I want to focus specifically on younger people for a second. For a lot of us, not a day goes by that we don’t think of this crisis. It fundamentally is a risk to our future. We are the generational frontlines of this crisis and have a huge role in pushing for change.

Climate Justice TO started with just a couple of young activists. We met at the 2019 Powershift conference where we talked about organizing and our general frustration with the lack of intersectionality with the climate movement.

I stayed connected with a handful of people and Climate Justice Toronto was born a few months later. We were initially really involved with the 2019 federal election, the global climate strike, and Indigenous solidarity actions.

In addition to the Climate Crisis, we’re also deeply concerned about having a liveable economic future. While the climate crisis is ravishing the planet, for most of our generation the idea of full time stable employment with benefits is gone. Early in the development of Climate Justice TO, we connected with the local labor movement and began having a critical discussion on the ways that Climate Justice must come with a renewed labor movement. We made allies and grew to grow our solidarity and connect the dots with our members. 

There are a lot of ways to get involved in the climate movement – it all starts with this issue and why it matters to you. Climate Justice TO was started by a couple of young passionate people. There is no blueprint on how do this work. You get people together and you see what works. We cared about having a livable planet and knew we had to challenge and gain power to do so. 

Political education is important! It’s how we introduce complex ideas to people. Some tips if you are planning to start your own climate justice radio/podcast. The first thing is a bit opposite of what you’d think, but I would say find what’s already out there. I see a tendency that people start an Instagram account or start a new thing all the time and it seems like a waste of resources to be duplicating work all the time. 

I think there is a lot of room for collaboration, a lot of room for amplifying existing content or amplifying accounts that already have traction. So, if you are looking to start something like this, I would look at what’s already in the landscape.

And the second thing I would recommend is that you plan out a few episodes. Think about what really is your goal for this podcast. Are you trying to get news updates on what’s happening in current events or are you trying to do a deep analysis of longer issues, are you trying to do entertainment? 

But, the most important thing is to start. You’ll learn a lot and grow a lot. Fight for the place you call home. 

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