On the eve of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, Saskatchewan protesters rallied to question the premier’s stance on the environment.
In Saskatoon and Regina, hundreds of people gathered Sunday to bang drums, ride their bikes and demand governments take action to fight climate change and reduce emissions.
“(Brad Wall) has positioned this as jobs versus the environment, and that’s not what we’re seeing,” Saskatoon rally organizer Tracey Mitchell said.
Led by a banner and a giant inflatable earth-like blue ball, around 350 Saskatoon protesters briefly halted traffic on the Broadway Bridge while they marched between Kiwanis Park and Oskayak High School.
“We want a real commitment and real action to achieve solid targets on emission reduction,” Mitchell said. “Too often we’ve heard targets and not heard what the plan is to achieve those targets, and then we don’t actually see action on them.”
The world, including Saskatchewan, should reduce its emissions by 20 to 25 per cent over the next decade, Mitchell said, before setting further targets which lead to an eventual phasing out of fossil fuels by 2050.
In October, Wall announced he would attend the summit to ensure whatever Canada committed to wouldn’t “kneecap our economy in the West”.
He said improving the environment is of key importance, but a balance has to be struck to ensure jobs aren’t lost and the economy doesn’t suffer as a result.
In Regina, around 90 people marched from city hall, down Albert Street and through downtown. Signs and banners reading “it’s our future”, “climate justice matters”, and “system change, not climate change” were carried.
Charlie Fox leaned on his bicycle as he watched the rally take shape.
“I’m here to help continue the thread that seems to run through society, those of us who would really like to see a better situation for the planet over the next so many thousands of years,” he said.
A shift in federal party power has encouraged many, including Fox, to believe there could also be a shift in environmental policy.
Fox would like to see more research and scientists dedicated to environmental issues along with increased pressure from other provinces to push Saskatchewan to make changes that benefit the environment.
But mostly, Fox would like to see a societal shift where people think more about the environment in every day life, like buying groceries or going to work.