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Activists set to hold climate action candlelight vigil at New West city hall

Activists seeking support for Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty
New West residents are calling on the city to support the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.

A Candles4Climate vigil in honour of climate action victims will take place at New Westminster City Hall on Monday night.

A group of New West residents and students will gather on the steps of city hall on Monday, Dec. 13, to honour the memory of those who perished in the summer heat wave. At the same time, they’ll be calling on city council to endorse a moratorium on new fossil fuel development.

“Everyone is aware that the world is warming and that the planet is in grave danger,” Tayeba Sadat, a Grade 12 at New Westminster Secondary School, said in a news release. “This summer's hot heat has claimed the lives of many individuals, and we do not want this to happen again.”

According to organizers, statistics show that 595 people in B.C. died in this summer’s heat-dome event, where temperatures reached a 49.6 Celsius. Of those deaths, 28 occurred in New Westminster.

Organizers of the candlelight vigil note that five people also perished in the recent landslides in B.C.

New Westminster city council’s Dec. 13 meeting begins at 6 p.m. and delegations take place at 7 p.m. The group will urge city council to join the call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, which includes: immediately banning expansions or new fossil fuel projects; sensibly and fairly phasing out existing fossil fuel production; and providing a just transition that protects workers and communities.

Jennifer Nathan, a former science teacher at New Westminster Secondary School, is among the people calling on the city to endorse the treaty.

“We need to hold governments and the fossil fuel industry accountable for emissions from the production of fossil fuels,” she said in a news release.

The call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty is endorsed by more than 1,000 organizations, 26 cities or sub-national governments, and 150,000 individuals.

In October 2020, the City of Vancouver became the first city in the world to endorse the treaty. Last month, the District of West Vancouver lent its support to the treaty.

At its Dec. 13 meeting, city council will consider a motion from Coun. Nadine Nakagawa to formally endorse the call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. The motion also asks that the Lower Mainland Local Government Association formally endorse the call for the treaty and send the motion to the Union of B.C. Municipalities for its endorsement.

In December 2020, New Westminster city council issued a statement regarding the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project. The city expressed concern that the TMX project is at odds with Canada’s regulated commitments under the Paris Agreement to reduce global Greenhouse Gas emissions and limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

In November 2019, the City of New Westminster establishes Seven Bold Steps for Climate Action, which have a goal of of moving New Westminster towards a zero carbon future by 2050. The city developed a budgeting framework and related principles in an effort to ensure that the city’s budget considers climate action.

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