Category: Climate Action

Our activities to fight global warming and protect the Earth


Climate emergency: We’re part of a new effort to ramp up climate action in B.C.

In September, the Vancouver Unitarians were proud to join 200+ organizations in signing the following open letter calling on the B.C. government to implement climate action of the scale and urgency required. This coming Thursday, Oct. 28 Seth Klein, one of the initiators of this new climate effort, will kick off a special series we’re hosting on Faith, Spirituality and the Climate Crisis. If you’re interested in getting more involved in climate action here at UCV, consider getting involved in our Environment Team!

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We write on behalf of diverse environmental, Indigenous, labour, health, business, local government, academic, youth and faith communities who collectively represent well over one million British Columbians.

We call on the B.C. government to recognize the urgency and alarm that people all over the province are feeling as the climate crisis directly impacts our communities and our health: deadly heat waves, wildfires, drought, floods, crop failure, fisheries collapse and costly evacuations and infrastructure damage. These climate-related impacts are unprecedented and intensifying. Indigenous peoples stand to be disproportionately impacted by climate events despite successfully taking care of the land since time immemorial.

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a “code red” for humanity. The International Energy Agency has called on world governments to immediately stop investments in and approvals of new oil and gas projects. The provincial government’s CleanBC climate action plan is insufficient to limit warming to 1.5 degrees and will not keep British Columbians safe from the worst impacts of climate change.

We therefore urge the B.C. government to develop and implement a transformative climate emergency plan that recognizes interconnected climate, ecological and social crises; embeds equity, anti-racism and social justice at its core; and upholds Indigenous title and rights as well as treaty rights.

To implement the rapid systemic change that is required, we call on the provincial government to demonstrate the leadership necessary to confront the climate emergency, and immediately undertake the following 10 actions:

1. Set binding climate pollution targets based on science and justice.
Reduce B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 7.5 per cent per year below 2007 levels. Set binding reduction targets of 15 per cent below 2007 levels by 2023; 30 per cent by 2025; 60 per cent by 2030, and 100 per cent by 2040. Review and update targets regularly as climate science evolves.

2. Invest in a thriving, regenerative, zero-emissions economy.
Invest two per cent of B.C.’s gross domestic product, which is $6 billion per year, to advance a zero-emissions economy and create tens of thousands of good jobs. Spend what it takes to immediately reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create new economic institutions to get the job done. Ensure that the economic component of Aboriginal title is recognized through the sharing of benefits and revenues that result.

3. Rapidly wind down all fossil fuel production and use.
Immediately stop all new fossil fuel infrastructure including fracking, oil and gas pipelines, LNG and fossil fuel-derived hydrogen. Rapidly phase out and decommission all existing fossil fuel production and exports.

4. End fossil fuel subsidies and make polluters pay.
End all fossil fuel subsidies and financial incentives by 2022. Ensure that industries that profit from fossil fuel pollution pay their fair share of the resulting climate damage.

5. Leave no one behind.
Ensure a just transition for fossil fuel workers, resource-dependent communities and Indigenous and remote communities impacted by fossil fuel production. It will be critical to collaborate in true partnership with Indigenous peoples in climate action. Prepare our communities for the impacts of the climate crisis to minimize human suffering and infrastructure damage. Support those most vulnerable to climate change impacts.

6. Protect and restore nature.
Protect 30 per cent of terrestrial and marine ecosystems by 2030; support and invest in Indigenous-led conservation initiatives; restore natural ecosystems to enhance ecosystem functions and services, preserve biodiversity, increase carbon sequestration, and improve human and ecosystem resilience to climate impacts. Impose an immediate moratorium on the industrial logging of all old-growth forests which are critical carbon sinks.

7. Invest in local, organic, regenerative agriculture and food systems.
Incentivize carbon storage in soil, restore biodiversity and ensure food sovereignty and food security across the province. Increase consumption of plant-based foods and reduce food waste. Support Indigenous communities that wish to maintain traditional food systems and enhance their food security.

8. Accelerate the transition to zero-emission transportation.
Invest in affordable, accessible and convenient public transit within and between all communities. Reallocate infrastructure funds from highway expansion to transit and active transportation (cycling, rolling and walking). Mandate zero emissions for all new light vehicles by 2027 and all medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by 2030.

9. Accelerate the transition to zero-emission buildings.
Ban new natural gas connections to all new and existing buildings by the end of 2022. Create a Crown corporation to mobilize the workforce to retrofit all existing buildings and eliminate fossil fuel heating by 2035, and to build new affordable zero-emissions buildings.

10. Track and report progress on these actions every year.
Embed all of these actions in legislation to ensure accountability, transparency and inclusion. Establish rolling five-year carbon budgets that decline over time towards zero emissions by 2040 or sooner.

Tackling the climate crisis offers an unprecedented opportunity to generate new, vibrant economic and social wealth as we transform where our energy comes from and how it is used. It offers an opportunity to achieve energy security, ensure food security, develop more sustainable local economies and jobs, transform our buildings, redesign transportation, reduce pollution, improve human health and well-being, and enhance our quality of life. The transition from fossil fuels to a zero-emissions economy has clear benefits for people and natural ecosystems, and is an opportunity to create a more prosperous, just and equitable society.

Every person, every business, every industry and every government has a role to play as we co-ordinate individual and collective actions to create a thriving, resilient and regenerative society that respects its interdependence with healthy ecosystems and a safe climate. British Columbia is positioned to become a visionary world leader and demonstrate that innovative and rapid change is possible as we transition to a zero-emissions economy.

We urge you to seize these opportunities and demonstrate to British Columbians that our government is indeed a true climate leader by implementing the 10 climate emergency actions set out in this letter.

We must act now.

Mobilizing Faith and Spirit for the Climate Crisis: Dr. Carmen Lansdowne speaks Jan. 12, 2022

Dr. Carmen Lansdowne will be the featured guest speaker in the Sanctuary (949 W. 49th Ave) Wednesday, January 12, 2022 at 7p.m. 

This special event will be the second in a new UCV-organized series, “Mobilizing Faith and Spirit for the Climate Crisis.” The event will be available online by livestream, and there will also be limited in-person seating in The Sanctuary.

About the Speaker

The Rev. Dr. Carmen Lansdowne joined First United as Executive Director in 2017. An ordained minister in the United Church of Canada and a member of the Heiltsuk First Nation, she has served on the Executive of the General Council, as United Church representative to the Executive and Central Committees of the World Council of Churches, and currently sits on the Theology, Inter-church, Interfaith committee of the national church. She holds a PhD from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA and speaks, writes and publishes across North America on issues of indigenous theology and indigenous-Christian relationships.

About the Series: Mobilizing Faith and Spirit for the Climate Crisis 

Every day we are reminded that we are in a climate emergency. Unprecedented heat waves, droughts, fires, extreme weather events, floods, refugees – the list goes on. Taken together with the current pandemic, it’s understandable that many of us feel frightened, overwhelmed, powerless.  Where can we find the individual and collective strength to clearly face the truth of the emergency, mourn the damage being done to our blue planet, and inspire ourselves and others to action?

The Vancouver Unitarians are hosting a series of talks by prominent Canadians from faith, spiritual and secular backgrounds to support us in answering that question.  They will educate, nourish, and inspire us, drawing on diverse faith and spiritual traditions including those of Indigenous peoples. They will delve into how these traditions and practices, and the values they represent, help them contend with the climate emergency and the actions they are taking.  And, in this way, they will help us engage more effectively with the crisis and create our way forward to a sustainable future – for ourselves and our families, our communities, our nation, and for the health of our loved ones and our planet.

Book tickets

To attend our next event in person, book your spot now here: https://vancouver.breezechms.com/form/Jan12ClimateEvent

All the events in this series including the Jan. 12 event will be available to watch via livestream here: ucv.im/FaithAndClimate

In case you missed it: WATCH Seth Klein’s talk and Q&A from Oct. 28

 

About the Format

The speaker series will be live-streamed from the campus of the Vancouver Unitarians before a small audience.  The speakers will appear in person or virtually.  Two Vancouver Unitarians will moderate the series – introducing the speakers, leading discussions after each talk, and providing continuity over the course of the full program.  The series will include occasional panel discussions of key themes and learnings from what we heard. 

All events in this series will be held in the Sanctuary of the Unitarian Church. It is recognized as a remarkable mid-twentieth century architectural legacy – a well-received spiritual gathering place and a civic gathering place for events in the arts, public affairs, and discourse on the issues of the day.

Past Events in this Series 

Oct. 28, 2021: Seth Klein

UCV Enviro Team is Now a Member of the West Coast Climate Action Network

Enviro Page  →  Enviro Team is now a Member

Poster for Public Launch of the West Coast Climate Action Network


Join us at the Public Launch of the West Coast Climate Action Network Tuesday October 5th, at 7pm

Everyone Welcome

Register on eventbrite
Our Launch will be Live-streamed on YouTube
You can also watch our launch on Facebook
For more info click here

text image: A request. We would really value your help in promoting our launch. You can help us by doing the following


You can cut and paste this text:


Guest Speakers, Musicians and Poets


Many thanks,

We need each other.

Come join us at our launch on Tuesday!

Guy Dauncey, Co-Chair

West Coast Climate Action Network

I am honoured to live on the traditional territory of the Stz’uminus and Snuneymuxw First Nations

Ladysmith, BC

250-924-1445

Logo for West Coast Climate Action Network

Putting faith in action for the climate

Catherine Hembling was among those arrested last week, as part of large-scale non violent civil disobedience attempting to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion (TMX).

Catherine is a retired teacher and a long-time member of the Vancouver Unitarians. Our environment team here at UCV is proud to organizing with multi-faith communities to act on climate and in support of Indigenous land defenders.

Explaining her willingness to face arrests, she said, “As a person of conscience, I cannot allow thousands of trees to be cut down for such a short-sighted project. We are in a climate emergency and a mass extinction event. Along with our allies around the world, we call on our leaders to listen to science, follow their commitments and rise to the task imposed on humanity. Put a moratorium on all new fossil fuel infrastructure, as per the International Energy Agency. And put a moratorium on cutting down mature trees and intact forest.”

The TMX pipeline is partially completed and there are currently land defence actions in a number of locations. Catherine’s arrest took place near the ongoing treesit in the Brunette River Conservation Area, which sits on the path of the planned expansion to the existing 1,150-kilometre pipeline.

Climate Justice and Food Sovereignty

What can we do individually and collectively to reduce harm and bring about climate justice?

Our food system has a huge impact on climate. Food production is fraut with racism and oppression of the people who grow our food. It is also a very complex system. Eating less meat, particularly red meat, has clear health and climate benefits. Large scale change needs to come from good policy and public pressure to create system change. The following organizations are working to create real change for those who produce and harvest our food as well as the impact of agriculture on our planet:

These are good places to start for information and action. Stay tuned for more!

Vancouver Unitarians Join Extinction Rebellion at Cambie Bridge Shut Down

Above: We joined the die-in at the intersection of Broadway and Cambie, then marched to the middle of the Cambie bridge for the sit‑in

Above: Vancouver Unitarians Carry the Flame at the Cambie Bridge Sit‑In

A group of Vancouver Unitarians, including Mairy Beam, Rob Dainow, and Vivian Davidson, joined several hundred protesters at the March 27 Extinction Rebellion march for old growth trees and climate justice.

“Logging old growth directly violates Extinction Rebellion’s demand to Act Now,” said Kelly Tatham, a volunteer with Extinction Rebellion.

We are all standing up for the climate and for our ecosystems, whenever we can and in whatever ways we can. Every little bit counts.

Pipelines, Brunette River and ME/WE

By Catherine Hembling

Pipelines, Brunette River and ME/WE…
I think there’s a song that goes something like that!

These past months along the Brunette have brought great resolve and activity to the lives of many activists, many of them seniors. I feel invigorated by my involvement in something so much bigger than I am. As well, I walk in beauty, at least once a week, along the Brunette as part of my “work”.

I am a member the Prayer Circle, in turn part of PPSTMX (Protect the Planet Stop TransMountain Expansion). There are legal fees to pay, there is soup to be delivered, there are people to meet!

We are publicly and peacefully defending the Brunette’s Salmon runs, riparian zones, trees, water quality, environment. As well, we actively support the courageous tree sit which has been going on since Dec. 21/20 with little Press coverage. By doing so we hope to increase the public’s resolve to speak out against this urban pipeline construction. We hold PM Trudeau to his assertion that there has to be community support for TMX.

This salmon run is a particular treasure, one of very few urban salmon streams in the world. It has been restored from open dumping site by volunteers, starting in the late 1970’s. A public Greenway full of birds and wildlife now runs almost the full length of the river and its tributary creeks, under the administration of Metro Vancouver.

Long term could the Brunette be re-restored? Maybe, …..but not the Climate. Climate changes are happening already. More oil burned is more CO2 in the atmosphere. Climate changes can only get worse before they get better. We think to the future. Overall, time is on the side of protesters. Each delay to construction gives the market and economic facts of the project a better chance to be understood by the public. Green job creation brings prosperity to many more workers than pipeline construction. Politicians will always want to be elected and then re-elected. That is our lever.

Electorates are powerful if ME/WE choose to be involved!

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Outreach Opportunities Fund New Recipient: Burns Bog

Our Outreach Opportunities Fund recipient for the June-Sept 2020 period is the Burns Bog Conservation Foundation, which was set up in 2002 as an endowment fund for the Burns Bog Conservation Society. Burns Bog is a globally unique ecosystem functioning as a major regulator of regional climate and as the “the Lungs of the Lower Mainland”. Endowment funds are also to be used for research relating to peatlands/wetlands and the development of an Education Centre. Read more about the connections between Burns Bog and the Vancouver Unitarians.

CUC National Voice Statement, February 2020

The recent RCMP raids of Wet’suwet’en land defenders in northwestern British Columbia has provoked widespread rallies, blockades and protests, world-wide media coverage, public statements by First Nations, politicians, industry, labour, and the public.  In view of these developments, we think it timely and important to restate the initial position taken by the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) on January 10, 2019:

CUC Pledges Solidarity with ​Wet’suwet’en

The Canadian Unitarian Council has joined thousands of organizations and individuals pledging solidarity with the ​Wet’suwet’en​ Hereditary Chiefs, who are blocking the development of a Coastal GasLink pipeline on their traditional territories in northwestern British Columbia:

  1. WE COMMEND the courage and vision of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs and their community of activists.
  2. WE ARE WATCHING across the province, country and internationally.
  3. WE DENOUNCE any attempt by Coastal GasLink Pipeline, the federal government, provincial government or RCMP to interfere in the rights of the Wet’suwet’en to occupy, manage or maintain their lands.
  4. WE URGE that any and all actions taken by the federal and provincial government, industry, and policing agencies must be consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Anuk Nu’at’en (Wet’suwet’en laws) and collective Title.
  5. WE PLEDGE support to the frontline land defenders and affirm the collective hereditary governance of the Wet’suwet’en who are enforcing Wet’suwet’en laws on their unceded lands.

Obviously, the situation has continued to evolve since last year. We recognise this is a complex matter and many of us bring strong opinions and passionate voices to the conversation—given our Unitarian Universalist principles and history, that is how it should be. We recognise, as well, quoting the Afro-American abolitionist Frederick Douglass, that “if there is no struggle, there is no progress” for “power concedes nothing without a demand.”

While we reaffirm the January 10, 2019 CUC Statement pledging solidarity with Wet’suwet’en, we urge Canadian Unitarian Universalists to reflect on how we live our faith and convictions when interests and constituencies are polarized.  We urge each other to live our principles.  May our actions be guided by respect for each other’s dignity, by compassion and empathy, by the voice of conscience and reason, by a desire for justice and equity, and by a deep respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

We urge Canadian Unitarian Universalists to read and become familiar with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples—our nation is a signatory to this Declaration; many of its articles clarify and promote the work of reconciliation and de-colonialisation which we dare hope is still alive in Canada today and will be for generations to come.


Birthday Party Fundraiser for Climate Action

A Night of Good Cheer and a Rousing Success! $3000 Raised for Raven Trust’s Anti-TMX Campaign!

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On a cold, rainy night in January, over 50 friends and family gathered in Hewett Hall to celebrate Tamiko Suzuki ‘s 60th birthday. After a moving welcome by Sto:lo elder and activist, Kwitsel, the evening turned raucous with parlour games. Guests were given coloured dots on their name tags to show how they were connected to Tamiko  (family, work, UCV, book club, etc) and asked to sit at a table with as many colours as possible! The tables then competed in games of rock/paper/scissors  (in Japanese!), Name that Tune (music from TV and film from the 60’s,70’s  to today), Trivial Pursuit, and Charades, all with some connection to Tamiko’s life. Try to imagine contestants acting out the charades challenges;  “Being charged by a rhino” (which was a true story) and “skinny dipping on New Year’s Day (also true). The winners got to dress Tamiko with items from a box so that at one point she was wearing a diving mask, blond wig, life jacket, and belly dancer belt.

The games were followed by delivery of a cake decorated with a dinosaur and speeches both funny and warm. The evening finished with International folk dancing and many brave friends trying out  Bolivian, Finnish, and Greek/Roma dances.

Instead of presents, Tamiko asked guests to make a donation to  RAVEN Trust’s anti-TMX campaign and over $3000 was raised. An additional $400 was donated to support the Wet’suet’en opposition to the Coastal Gas pipeline.

A big thanks and much love to the Environment Team who sponsored the event, provided the food, set up, cleaned up, matched a portion of the donations, and took part in the games and dances with grace and humour.