Politics

How To Fight Climate Change: Get The Job Done Yourself

How a climate-activist-turned-city councillor, helped lead the charge for climate-emergency action in Vancouver.

Vancouver city councillor and former climate activist Christine Boyle

(Illustration: Vivian Rosas)

Christine Boyle is a climate-activist-turned-city-councillor with OneCity Vancouver, a progressive political party she co-founded in 2014. She may be the party’s only member in city hall, but in her two and a half years in office, she’s pushed Vancouver to declare a climate emergency and helped lead the charge to adopt a climate-emergency action plan. Here’s how she gets it done.

Why did you switch from advocacy to politics?

As someone who has worked outside the system for a long time, I see how much it matters to have people at the table who are working on the same issues in collaboration with social movements.

In 2019, your motion for Vancouver to declare a climate emergency passed unanimously. How did that happen?

I worked closely with a whole network of climate-justice activists and advocates—particularly young climate activists from a group in Vancouver called Sustainabiliteens—to bring people to city hall to speak. That made visible how widespread public support was for this ambitious plan. The first motion passed unanimously at a pretty politically mixed council.

Illustration of climate activists protesting

(Illustration: Vivian Rosas)

How does community building add to your efforts?

I was working alongside folks from the beginning, rather than just trying to rally them down the road. I think that matters, so that people feel involved.

The Climate Emergency Action Plan has ambitious goals to cut Vancouver’s carbon pollution in half by 2030. How do you get people on board?

Connecting the dots for people matters. If you care about access to public transit, that’s connected to climate decisions made by the city. If you care about housing, that’s connected to climate policy. Racial justice and climate justice are connected. [Those connections] mean we’re not building movements in silos.

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