Prince George joins Global Climate March

The organizers of Prince George's part in the Global Climate March have one key message: come out Sunday afternoon.

"If you have children, plan on having children, know people who have children or even care about children, you need to act," said Kyrke Gaudreau, who is the University of Northern B.C.'s sustainability manager. "We all need to act. There's a huge intergenerational equity question here about preserving our world for the future."

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For UNBC grad student, Jessy Rajan showing solidarity with communities across the globe is necessary to address climate change.

"I want to feel like we're connected to the rest of the world so it's an important message to send," said Rajan, who will be meeting with marchers at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Wood Innovation and Design Centre.

Clean energy is a key local focus for the event.

"That scares a lot of people because that threatens one of the biggest industries here. I think we can diversify the economy and to transfer those skills into new technology," she said.

That's a problem with how the conversation is framed, added Gaudreau, when addressing climate change is perceived as a threat to jobs or the economy.

"Oftentimes when we talk about the fossil fuel sector here, there's a lot of boom and bust that goes on. Yes there are jobs, but are they steady jobs? Are they good jobs? Do they promote communities?" said Gaudreau before referencing Tumbler Ridge, a town he said was "decimated" because of reliance on coal.

"Moving towards a clean energy economy radically reduces your risk to big structural changes. Renewable energy jobs tend to last a lot longer because the wind keeps blowing, the sun keeps shining," said Gaudreau, adding food security is a concern for northern communities.

"We are blessed with abundant resources in the north - if we manage them properly."

Gaudreau understands the issue can seem overwhelming.

"We have this huge world problem. It's a metaphysical problem as much as it is a very physical problem and people don't necessarily know what activities they can do both small and large to have measurable impact," he said.

Better approaches to transportation, better design for heating in homes, better use of clean energy like solar panels and more, were all on the organizers' wish list.

For more than 10 years Nikolaus Gantner has studied the Arctic, where the impacts of warming temperatures are amplified.

Prince George residents, too, should be able to understand the ripple effect of climate change through the devastation caused by the mountain pine beetle, he said.

"That's linked to climate change, maybe even driven by warmer temperatures and the beetle being able to survive further and further north," said Gantner, a UNBC environmental science adjunct professor who is also organizing the Prince George march.

The global marches start this weekend, just days before world leaders meet for the Paris climate talks.

In the month since Justin Trudeau's Liberals took a majority, Gantner's noticed a marked difference in approach to climate change.

"It's early to say but the first and strongest indication that we're moving in a different direction than the last 10 years is that we now have a minister who is tasked with climate change topics," said Gantner.

From permitting federal scientists to speak about their research to meetings with provinces ahead of the UN climate change negotiations, Gantner said he's encouraged by the national shift.

"There's a bit of a wind of change," Gantner said.

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