“My number one motivation for being active on climate change is my six-year old daughter, Grace, and my concerns for the world she is coming into.” – Rik Logtenberg, Nelson BC
Last month father Rik Logtenberg took his concerns for his daughter’s future to Ottawa, where he joined 50 other volunteers from across Canada to lobby Parliament for more effective climate policies.
“When I talk to Grace about climate change,” explains Logtenberg, a software developer living in the Nelson area, “I’m talking about her life and the world she is going to be living in. That makes it is very real to me.”
Logtenberg went to Ottawa with two other community members, Judy O’Leary and Laura Sacks. They volunteer with the nonpartisan, nonprofit organization Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL).
It was a first time lobbying experience for O’Leary and Logtenberg. For Sacks, who founded and leads the local chapter, this was her fifth trip to Ottawa. She has also lobbied in Washington, DC.
“When meeting with Parliamentarians, we always come from a place of respect and gratitude for their service, while connecting on common ground,” said Sacks. “This approach opens doors and builds relationships, regardless of political party.”
O’Leary, who has a background in economics and environmental policy, found the lobbying experience very empowering. “I saw firsthand the impact of a small group of highly skilled, hardworking volunteers. It reminds me how effective we can be as active citizens.”
The two-day lobbying blitz followed a two-day conference where they deepened their understanding about climate change with engaging speakers like Erin Flanagan from The Pembina Institute, Jason Dion from Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission, Catherine Abreu from Canada’s Climate Action Network, and Mark Cameron from Canadians for Clean Prosperity.
“Many of us look at the climate crisis as too big, and so we don’t know what we can do,” explained Logtenberg. “After this experience, I see when you step up and go to the centre of power where decisions are being made, you can have a very meaningful impact.”
Their lobbying ‘asks’ focused around improving the Federal carbon pricing system: to have it rise over a longer time horizon, cover the entire economy, protect the lower and middle classes from price shocks, protect businesses with border carbon adjustments, and remove fossil fuel subsides.
In small teams of four to five CCLers, they met with 44 Members of Parliament (MPs) and Senators, including our local MPs Wayne Stetski and Richard Cannings, as well as our Interior BC Senator Nancy Greene Raine.
“We were also honoured that Mr. Cannings – along with MP Marc Serré from Nickel Belt – hosted us at a breakfast with the Standing Committee on Natural Resources to discuss fossil fuel subsidies,” said Sacks. It was the first time ever where all three major political parties had MPs at one of CCL’s events.
“MPs were very interested in meeting with us and they provided constructive and strategic feedback,” said O’Leary. “I was reminded that MPs are just ordinary hard working people who want to make a difference, but they will act only if we tell them that climate change is a critical issue for us.”
That was a common thread that Sacks observed, “The Government needs to hear from more Canadians that they care about this pressing issue. They do really notice the number of personal letters and phone calls on each issue.”
“Climate change is the critical issue of our times,” continued Sacks, whose background is in environmental sciences and who now dedicates much of her time to climate advocacy. “If we don’t turn things around in the next few years, we face the grave risk of hitting irreversible tipping points in the climate system.
Globally, as well as here in Canada, emissions have yet to start to decline.
Despite these concerns, Logtenberg came back from Ottawa feeling hopeful. “I understand that our elected leaders want to do something. But they need us, as citizens, to be their partners to help motivate them. It is going to take work, but there is hope.
“This is something we can do – that we have todo – now, so Grace and other children can have a more secure future.”