Grey Bruce poverty group calls for climate justice

The Grey Bruce Poverty Task Force is calling for climate justice because it says the issues of global warming and poverty are intertwined.

Planning Network Coordinator Jill Umbach said climate change poses the greatest threat and risk to people already facing deep-rooted and systemic challenges like poverty.

She added climate policies risk exacerbating the already unacceptable gap between rich and poor. She explained high-income families often cause a disproportionate share of the emissions while low income families can’t afford measures to reduce their emissions.  Umbach also said lower income people often can’t afford to live in lakeshore centres like Kincardine, so they have to move to outlying areas, and then commute to work.

“Getting in to the affordable grocery stores, you have to go all the way across town in Kincardine, you need a vehicle from Ripley, or Tiverton, or wherever you’re coming in from to get to the main shopping,” said Umbach

She added sustainable practices such as public transportation are a key part of municipal planning, and more public transportation is needed to connect people to places.

“Planning around housing. Do you put the transportation first, and then build? Or do you go the other way and build the transportation towards the housing. Or decide that housing needs to be more densified,” she added. “And so we build more different types of units, more intensely in the downtown core, where there’s walkability.”

Other sustainable practices that Umbach said would benefit people with low incomes include better relationships with the land and reducing food waste. The task force pointed to a report from Second Harvest that found nearly 60% of food produced in Canada is lost or wasted each year. That wastes all the resources that were needed to produce the food, while it impacts biodiversity and pollutes the environment. Plus that food creates methane when thrown into the landfill.

Locally, 32 food rescue programs diverted 108 tonnes of food in 2022. More than 17 grocery stores, drug stores, and restaurants across Grey Bruce are participating in Grey Bruce Food Rescue.

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