In My Opinion: How you can help as we deal with this climate emergency

Beaches-East York MPP Rima Berns-McGown talks about ways residents can help deal with the climate emergency in her In My Opinion column.

By RIMA BERNS-McGOWN

Hello Neighbours,

With the Ontario legislature back in session after a long hiatus, I’m honoured to be back at Queen’s Park representing Beaches-East York.

There have been many issues at the forefront of our community, but one in particular stands out. I have heard from people from every corner of the riding who are desperate to see governments at every level take real action on the climate emergency.

Which is why, when a constituent approached me about the issue a few months ago, we teamed up to start a weekly climate action in Beaches-East York.

We have met every Friday since the climate strike rallies held in cities across the globe.

Many community members have joined us for these half hour meetings, which take place in East Lynn Park at 6 p.m.

We’ve had great, wide-ranging discussions on how to make progress in the fight to address the climate emergency.

We’ve talked about planning for the next climate strike rally on Nov. 29 as well as how to help people who’ve never gone to a protest feel more comfortable and safe participating.

And we’ve shared ideas for reducing personal plastic consumption and waste as well as how best to tackle climate denial on social media.

It’s been wonderful watching the Fridays take on a life of their own.

People have brought their kids, their dogs, and their community enthusiasm to these local meetings.

And now, climate activists from the Neighbourhood Unitarian Church, located at 79 Hiawatha Rd., have offered to host us during the winter months.

Starting Nov. 22, we’ll be meeting there from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Everyone is welcome. There is no commitment required to come every week or for the whole two hours.

You’ll get something useful from the conversation even if you can only manage to pop in for a little while!

Time is running out for meaningful climate action. It’s imperative that governments at all levels, and of all political stripes, work together and take it seriously. It needs to become part of our discourse that inaction on the climate emergency is a political nonstarter.

It’s why I am very pleased, as a member of the Official Opposition, that the Ontario NDP has put forward a vision for a Green New Deal that actively addresses these issues.

We need action that will result in a timely and effective transition to clean energy and the green jobs that go along with it.

We need to think about what “climate justice” means and how to support vulnerable populations as climate change continues to take its toll.

Don’t hesitate to reach out if you want to start a climate action hub closer to where you live and want some ideas on how to get started!

I’ll be so happy to brainstorm with you and help you to get it going.

One day, I hope to see climate action hubs happening in communities across the province — because when we come together to fight for what we believe in, governments will listen.


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