Montreal, March 31, 2021 – This morning, a broad coalition of mobilized community groups and environmental organizations from throughout Quebec held a virtual press conference to launch an ambitious awareness and mobilization campaign, Vire au Vert - to encourage all those who are concerned about the climate crisis to become actively involved in the upcoming 2021 municipal elections.
“Given the scope of the environmental and climate crisis, more and more people are getting involved, sensing the urgency to act. Local governments are important agents of change and municipal politics play an important role. The public must get involved to demand the necessary political courage to ensure that this crisis is dealt with responsibly. A list of 68 leading proposals has been put together, grouped under 10 key themes to encourage candidates and political parties to tackle the environmental crisis head on and to help voters make informed choices on November 7th,” says Zoé Dumais, spokesperson for La Planète s'invite au Parlement.
Education, citizen assemblies and debates
The movement encourages many types of participation, from candidate and voter awareness and education initiatives to citizen assemblies, and even debates focused exclusively on the environment this fall.
“In Quebec’s last municipal elections, 53.6% of city councillors and mayors were elected without any opposition. Only 31.3% of them were women and only 26% were under the age of 40. We need a greater diversity of voices and an improved gender and age balance. We need renewal and inclusion at this time when the climate emergency is so critical - every election will have pivotal repercussions on the future we are leaving to our children. Youth involvement and voting could tip the balance in favour of the environment,” notes Rosalie Thibault, of the Coalition étudiante pour un virage environnemental et social (CEVES).
“Women often hesitate to get involved in politics, but when they do take the plunge it’s out of a desire to improve their community’s quality of life and environment. Municipal politics offers a wide range of tangible actions that elected representatives can take, provided they are well versed in key concepts, to discuss and deal with environmental issues that are of concern to their constituents,” notes Elyse Arcand, President of the Réseau des femmes en environnement.
A wide variety of tools
This citizen movement – which demonstrates the consensus about the climate emergency and the need to mobilize a far-reaching, inclusive environmental transition throughout our societies and democratic institutions at many levels – has created a series of tools for candidates and voters alike, available online at vireauvert.org.
The Déclaration d’urgence climatique (DUC) [Climate emergency declaration] has already garnered the support of 500 Quebec municipalities – irrefutable proof of a growing willingness to act at the municipal level to address climate change.
“What could be a better rallying point than our municipalities for implementing local solutions? We have less than 10 years to avoid runaway climate change. If we are to be successful, we must achieve rapid transitions in land use, energy, construction, transportation and urban planning. The good news? Many solutions can be achieved at the municipal level, and 82% of Quebecers want more action to protect nature and the climate,” remarks Diego Creimer of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS-Quebec).
Vire au vert member organizations: Accès transports viables, Coalition étudiante pour un virage environnemental et social (CEVES), Équiterre, ENvironnement JEUnesse (ENJEU), Eau Secours, Fondation Rivières, Fondation David Suzuki, Front commun pour la transition énergétique, Greenpeace, La Planète s’invite au Parlement, Mères au front, Nature Québec, Piétons Québec, Réalité Climatique Canada, Réseau des femmes en environnement, Regroupement québécois des groupes écologistes (RQGÉ), Regroupement national des conseils régionaux de l’environnement (RNCREQ), Société pour la nature et les parcs (SNAP Québec), Trajectoire Québec and Vélo Québec.
Vague écologiste au municipal: Encouraging environmental candidates
“Launched the same day as Vire au vert, the Vague écologiste au Municipal network seeks to encourage environmentalists to run in the municipal elections or to volunteer. Although it is a stand-alone operation, the network will work alongside Vire au vert. For all those who feel a burning need to do something truly significant to stop global warming, here is our message: let’s turn out in droves during the municipal elections this fall. Municipal politics can have a huge impact on GHG emissions through policies in the sectors of transportation, land use, construction and waste management. The Vague écologiste will be there to support those who step up to lead the transition,” explains Marie-Ève Bélanger-Southey of the Vague écologiste au municipal.
Anthony Côté Leduc, Équiterre, [email protected], 514 605-2000
Zoé Dumais, La Planète s’invite au Parlement, 438 527-9272
Rosalie Thibault, Coalition étudiante pour un virage environnemental et social (CEVES), 514 430-8664
Marie-Eve Bélanger-Southey, La Vague écologiste au municipal, [email protected], 438 884-7514
Amandine Gournay, Réseau des femmes en environnement, [email protected], 819 861-9198
Charlène Daubenfeld, SNAP Québec, [email protected], 514 378-3880