Members of a local direct action group snuck banners past security into the B.C. legislature Thursday, dropping them from the second floor rotunda. Messages of protest against Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) unfurled down to the first floor, back-dropping the legislature Christmas tree.
Local organizers with the group Rise and Resist said they were motivated by the October release of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report which outlines the drastic measures needed to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius – the rate that will substantially reduce the risks and effects of climate change.
The report by the IPCC said meeting the ambitious goal “would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.”
The group’s protest specifically targeted LNG Canada’s recently approved Kitimat project, after the BC NDP and Greens announced Wednesday that their new climate plan still allows for LNG Canada’s facility to be built.
“It is a huge misconception of what climate action is when the government releases a strategy to reduce emissions while approving emission intensive projects,” said organizer Hannah Gelderman. “B.C. is already seeing the effects of climate change in the form of massive forest fires, if LNG Canada goes ahead they will only intensify. We are literally lighting ourselves on fire in order to export fuel to Asia.”
Organizers say that any hope for a safe climate hinges on ceasing all fossil fuel expansion immediately.
The group also raised concerns about Indigenous rights, saying Indigenous title holders such as the Unist’ot’en of the Wet’suwet’en Territories have not consented to the construction of the Coastal Gaslink Pipeline that will service the Kitimat terminal.
“Grassroots activists and Indigenous title holders in fracking country have been fighting LNG for years because of its impact on their lands and waters. We’re here to stand together with them and to say we won’t tolerate fossil fuel expansion, period,” said organizer Keith Cherry.
The protesters were quickly spotted by security and escorted out of the legislature, according to Staff Sgt. Ron Huck with Legislative Assembly Protective Services.
“One of the things people need to remember is that the interior public areas of the legislature should be non-partisan and impartial,” said Huck. “We strive to keep it as impartial as possible. Protests make that more difficult.”
The lawns and the steps of the legislature are often used for protests, with security able to provide support, however Huck said the inside is a place of business where everyone “should have a level playing field.”
The group is the same one responsible for the recent sit-in on Johnson Street Bridge that closed the main thoroughfare for two and half hours and ended with the arrest of six protesters.
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