We are in a climate emergency. We’ve declared it, time and time again. Governments know it. Companies know it. And youth definitely know it.
But what to do?
When Parliament declared a Climate Emergency in 2019, the depth of their commitment was to “meeting its national emissions target under the Paris Agreement and to making deeper reductions in line with the Agreement’s objective of holding global warming below two degrees Celsius and pursuing efforts to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.”
Inspiring? Not quite. Clear? Definitely not.
The new federal climate plan, released in December last year, definitely shoots far beyond that flat, and insufficient, commitment to its Paris target. The new plan contains 64 measures and over $15 billion, and yet, as critics have noted, is still not enough to meet our fair share of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Youth have been at the forefront of saying this, and have brought innumerable proposals, petitions, challenges, and demands to governments and organizations at every level of society. Sadly, one of the most common experiences for young people in undertaking this kind of work — and here I sadly speak from personal experience — is the labyrinth of processes that one has to navigate simply to know the right thing to say to the right person.
Sadly, one of the most common experiences for young people in undertaking [climate action] is the labyrinth of processes that one has to navigate simply to know the right thing to say to the right person.George P.R. Benson
Thanks to the leadership of Youth Climate Lab, and the generous support of both Climate Caucus and the McConnell Foundation, youth across Canada are now trying to address that core challenge: how the heck do you navigate a big, complex bureaucracy to achieve climate action?
Youth Climate Lab, drawing on their own experience and that of climate activists and youth leaders from across the country (of which I count myself lucky to be included amongst) has just developed the Youth Infiltration Manual, a step-by-step guide to demystify municipal governance structures and provide youth with practical knowledge and tools on how to take climate action at the local level.
The manual covers a huge range of topics, including:
- An overview of the structure of municipal government
- A roadmap on how to gather community support
- Tips on how to present an initiative to Council
- A variety of email, meeting, and petition templates
The manual is divided into three sections, each composed of several modules that serve as your go-to guide for all municipal government and climate action questions. Interspersed throughout the manual are examples and insider tips. The whole manual is designed to be bite-size and navigable for whatever the needs of youth activists are.
Cities in Canada oversee over 50% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions – with the manual in hand, we hope that youth activists are better prepared than ever to bring action to every city hall across the country.