Climate justice activists make 2016 the year of action

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Photo: Leap Manifesto website

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In a public Google hangout, climate justice activists Naomi Klein, Avi Lewis, Bianca Mugyenyi (This Changes Everything), Bill McKibben ( and Asad Rehman (Friends of the Earth UK) partnered to talk about the Leap Manifesto and its global call to climate and economic justice in 2016.

"We know that we can't [relax] just because we got rid of Stephen Harper," said Klein in the conversation. "We're more than halfway through this critical decade, if we don't get our emissions pointing in the right direction by the end of this decade then we're in a world of trouble."

Representatives from Canadian Indigenous rights groups, social and food justice, environmental, faith-based and labour movements wrote the Leap Manifesto in the spring of 2015. Now with over 32,000 signatories, it calls upon Canada to build a country that cares for each other, the planet, moves swiftly towards a post-carbon future, upholds Indigenous rights and pursues economic justice for all.

"We need to make the most of the fact that we now have a government that we can have more influence over and we need to push that government as hard as we can from the outside," said Klein.

Joining the discussion from the UK, Rehman offered an international perspective on the need for global collaboration to prevent climate change.

"For many of us, at least in terms of the climate justice movement, Paris was not the end destination. It was to get through Paris and look out the other side." he said. "When we talk about owning and creating alternative forms of energy in the UK, if we just talk about our own boundaries then we're not really talking about our responsibility to the rest of the world...and therefore that brings us an interconnectedness of why we need both the international dimension as well as a local and national dimension."

An important component of the Leap Manifesto is not simply this global collaboration to fight climate change, but an inclusion of social and economic justice movements in this campaign.

"The most important thing you can do is build a strong community. Take care of each other," said Klein, sharing one of McKibben's frequent responses when talking about how we can prepare for climate change.

So why 2016? Why is the Leap Manifesto focusing on taking action this year?

"This spirit in which we offer this is we think it's a great metaphor," said Klein. "We think deadlines are helpful. The fact that this is a leap year, the fact that leap day is coming's just an excuse that kicks our butt a little bit...these leap year things only happen every four years and we started this call talking about the fact that we are in what's been called 'decade zero' of the climate crisis. We need to get our act together in a really serious way and have emissions pointing in the right direction by the end of this decade."

To learn more about the Leap Manifesto or sign it, visit To participate in events happening during Leap Year 2016, visit


Alyse Kotyk is a Vancouver-based writer and editor with a passion for social justice and storytelling. She studied English Literature and Global Development at Queen's University and is excited by media that digs deep, asks questions and shares narratives. Alyse was the Editor of Servants Quarters and has written for the Queen's News Centre, Quietly Media and the Vancouver Observer. She is now rabble's News Intern.

Photo: Leap Manifesto website

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