STOP: Stop Tar Sands Operations Permanently

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Canadian Youth Set To Tackle Tar Sands at 3-Day Conference

Posted by mhudema on July 3, 2008

CYCC National Youth Climate Summit

Young people fucking (with the tar sands)

SCOTT HARRIS / scott@vueweekly.com

A war of words is shaping up south of the border over the future of the Alberta tar sands, adding even more voices to the acrimonious debate already raging in Alberta and across Canada.
The annual meeting of the US Conference of Mayors recently passed a non-binding resolution calling on cities to reject oil derived from the tar sands, prompting the governors of Montana and Idaho to defend oil coming from their northern neighbour. Environmental groups took out full-page ads and wrote letters warning of the environmental impact of the tar sands to the western governors as they met with the western premiers to discuss energy and climate change. Greenpeace has launched a satirical provincial tourism website—travelingalberta.com—encouraging visitors to “experience an Oil Sands vacation in beautiful northern Alberta.” Premier Ed Stelmach continues to strike back, calling criticisms of the tar sands “disgusting” and pledging to “get the correct information out there.”
But a coalition of Canada’s youth environmental groups say that despite all the recent debate about the future of the oil trapped in the sand of northern Alberta, the voices of young people still aren’t being heard on the issue. It’s a situation that organizers of the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition’s National Youth Climate Summit hope to remedy when they meet in Edmonton Jul 4 – 6.
“I feel that a lot of times youth aren’t given the platform to organize,” says Paul Baker, the Edmonton-based organizer of the event. “I think it’s important for youth in Canada to really learn about this issue because it’s going to affect them more than the older people who have been working on it for a long time. It’s really affecting their future … and I think that’s really important for youth.”
Barbara Hayes, the 24-year-old director of CYCC, a national organization formed in the fall of 2006 to give youth a way to get actively involved in pushing “for real political and social solutions on climate change,” says that while the coalition is active on a range of issues related to climate change, Alberta was the obvious choice when deciding where to hold their inaugural national gathering.
“We think that you can’t really talk about climate change without talking about the tar sands and how that fits in,” she explains over the phone from Ottawa. “Even though it’s under Alberta’s provincial jurisdiction, it affects the rest of us. It affects our international compliance, it affects the way the rest of the industry and the rest of the economy works.”
While the global implications of development in the tar sands is drawing international attention and discussion, Hayes argues that young people in Canada have an even greater stake in the outcome of the debate.
“When we talk about the tar sands what we’re really talking about is how we want money to be spent, how we want things to be regulated that are going to shape the world we’re going to grow up in,” she says. “Canada can either put resources into sustainable industries now or we’re going to be left behind. And it’s youth who will be working in these jobs and will be inheriting this economy, not to mention the affects of climate change.“
The first day of the summit, which Baker says already has 150 youth from across Canada registered, will focus on the nuts and bolts of what’s happening in the tar sands, before shifting on Saturday to skills training, including techniques of non-violent direct action, media relations and how to develop local campaigns. The final day is dedicated to planning a youth national strategy on the tar sands and climate change.
Hayes says that despite the scale and complexity of the climate change issue, she’s excited about the potential of the weekend.
“One of the amazing things CYCC has taught me is the ingenuity of young people and the energy they have. When we first started out we basically didn’t have to do any organized recruiting because young people want to be active on climate change,” she enthuses. “They know what’s coming and they want to get active, so this conference is so exciting, because it’s a chance to really capitalize on that energy.” V

Registration for the summit is still open. For full details visit ourclimate.ca.

Fri, Jul 4 – Sun, Jul 6
CYCC National Youth Climate Summit
University of Alberta,
Free (registration required) ourclimate.ca

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