By student Brittany Maguire, Canada Youth Delegation home team leader.

Halifax People’s Assembly on Climate Justice. So what does it actually mean? Rather obviously, it means people assembling to discuss climate justice.

Climate justice is a movement to address the root causes of climate changes as well as the unequal burden of its effects. It recognizes that there is no way we can avert climate change without altering our current global economic system which is characterized by over consumption, reliance on fossil fuels and corporate control.

The negative effects of climate change are being, and will be felt more heavily in parts of the human population already marginalized: people of low income, indigenous communities and developing countries, particularly small island states. These populations will be hit disproportionately hard by natural disasters, heat related illnesses, increasing disease vectors and rising energy costs. This is compounded by the fact that these populations lack the same level of structural and financial ability to adapt to these effects as we do. What’s worse is that these populations are least responsible for the cause of climate change.

Climate justice calls for immediate action and real solutions to climate change that are accountable, ecologically sustainable and based on social justice.  As industrialized countries are largely responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change, climate justice calls for these countries to immediately shift towards low carbon economies, reduce their consumption habits and recognize their “Climate Debt” for which they owe developing countries compensation.

All of this is quite overwhelming, and in the absence of leadership to deal with these issues, people can be left paralyzed with despair.

No need – people’s assemblies are a wonderful forum for discussion and collaboration first on what these issues mean to us, and second how to deal with them. These assemblies are to bring people together to openly discuss an issue so often left to news articles, debates, academic papers and politicians but not actively addressed as a community. Let’s really get down to it and discuss this; whether we are all in agreement or not, we need to start the conversation and have some healthy debates.

Where did this whole people’s assembly business come from?

Last year as negotiations were failing at COP15 in Copenhagen, thousands of people met in the streets in order to discuss real solutions to climate change and began a movement of peoples’ assemblies around the world to tackle climate change from the ground up.

In April of this year, the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia brought together over 30 thousand individuals from around the world.

As COP16 is taking place, civil society is rising to action and communities around the world are planning people’s assemblies for open discussion on climate justice and ways forward. Alongside COP16, three massive conferences are happening in Cancun for all of civil society to pave the way forward: the Klimaforum (http://10.klimaforum.org/), Climate Dialogue/ Diálogo Climático (http://www.dialogoclimatico.org/) and the Alternative Global Forum “For life, and environmental and social justice” (http://viacampesina.org/).

Alright, alright… but what does this have to do with Halifax?

Despite the lack of leadership from the Canadian Government, Canadians are stepping up to the plate to lead the way in tackling climate change and transitioning to low carbon economy. Peoples’ assemblies are now being planned in communities across Canada to discuss the importance of climate justice to their communities and room for action.

On December 4th, from 10:30am to 4:30pm, the Halifax community will be a gathering for such an assembly in the McInnes Room of the Dalhousie Student Union Building to push awareness into action.

People from all walks of life and ages are invited. This event will allow for discussion and collaboration between individuals and groups who may often have little interaction. It will bring parties already working to address climate change and justice together along with students, general community and curious bystanders. Bring your voice to the table! All levels of climate change understanding are welcome. This event is free and food will be provided.

Interested? Come check it out!

Check out the Facebook event:  http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509062195&ref=name#!/event.php?eid=143699042348871

Please register by following this link: https://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?formkey=dDFDYVN0cjRkVWNPRzh1Tml5WlJyRGc6MA

Have questions?  E-mail Brittany Maguire at: brittany.maguire17@gmail.com