Kingston climate rally takes City Park

Local organization wants to advocate during municipal election cycle

Image by: Aimee Look
Grassroots organizers speak about health impact

City Park was host to a climate strike organized by 350 Kingston and Kingston Youth Climate Action (KYCA) on Sept. 23. 

Both organizations are committed to advocating for climate action and work through local activism—primarily focused on dealing with local governments and participating in international and national campaigns. 

The rally started with a speaker describing the recent floodings in Pakistan through the lens of the climate disaster. 

“Pakistan is responsible for only 0.4 per cent of the world’s historic greenhouse gas emissions […] Here in Canada, we have a much smaller population. But we have still contributed 2.6 per cent of the world’s total carbon emissions. That’s six and a half times that of Pakistan,” the speaker said. 

The speaker told demonstrators nations like Pakistan would demand rich nations pay climate reparations in the form of loss and damage at a conference in Egypt in November. They believe Canadians should stand up and support these nations. 

They said the implementation of taxes on fossil fuel profits is one method for combating climate change in Canada, combined with the ending of all subsidies on fossil fuels. 

Dr. Henry Swoboda, an emergency physician who moved to Canada from the United States, spoke about the impacts of climate change on human health. 

“As it is, we see 15,000 Canadians dying each year of air pollution […] and with every degree and increase we’re expecting to see those numbers of deaths go up by about 10 per cent.”

Speaking to other diseases in Canada, Swoboda explained the range of ticks and mosquitoes is increasing. He said prior to 2000, Lyme’s disease and West Nile Virus were almost unheard of in Canada. According to Swoboda, there are thousands of cases now. 

“We cannot ask the most affected peoples to forgo burning carbon and their development unless we provide them the resources to do so in a clean way,” Swoboda said. “In this case of climate change, as well as in many other things, solidarity is self-interest.”

Jeremy Milloy, coordinator of Just Recovery Kingston, spoke about the local climate justice movement in Kingston. 

Milloy said it’s unbelievable people still have to rally for climate change. He said in the past, people had the burden of proving climate change existed—now, he said, it’s making politicians do work for the world against climate change. 

“The new problem is [governments] pretend to solve [climate change], while they continue to burn down the planet for corporate profit.”

Milloy painted the picture of two possibilities: one where the world was bleak and dark because of the impacts of climate change; another where a new world is built from the ashes of the old. 

“If the world is literally burning, then we have a chance of building a beautiful world from the ashes.”

Founding member of 350 Kingston Gavin Hutchison discussed 350 Kingston’s new 50 by 2030 campaign. The campaign’s goal is to convince the new City Council—elected on Oct. 24—to adopt a 50 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. 

The current target is 30 per cent reduction by 2030, with a net zero emissions goal of 2040. 

When discussing the upcoming municipal election, Stephanie Sherman, one of the speakers, said it’s important to vote in the election and be heard.

“Having climate leaders in council or not having climate leaders in council can significantly impact the direction Kingston goes in the just transition of Kingston to a low carbon society.”


action, Climate change, climate crisis, floodings, KYCA

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