Festive Extinction Rebellion party slows traffic in downtown Vancouver

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      More than 100 environmental activists engaged in a "snake walk" this evening through the streets of downtown Vancouver.

      It was Extinction Rebellion's second act of civil disobedience in the city in less than two weeks.

      The first was a 13-hour occupation of the Burrard Bridge on October 7.

      Tonight, the demonstrators  gathered at Hamilton and West Georgia Street just before 5 p.m. before heading up to Richards Street and turning south.

      They continued back to Georgia and Granville and held a die-in in front of Pacific Centre.

      Next, they headed west past the Vancouver Art Gallery toward Burrard and turning south. 

      Then the procession continued along Robson Street.

      Police escorts kept the protesters separated from vehicle traffic, which was delayed in the areas where the activists were gathering.

      The mood was festive as a pickup truck leading the crowd blared music. Some of the people behind were dancing in the street.

      Extinction Rebellion was founded in the U.K. last year and practises nonviolent civil disobedience,

      It has since spread to several countries as a decentralized movement with three demands:

      1. Governments must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.

      2. Governments must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.

      3. Governments must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens' Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

      Meanwhile, more than 1,000 scientists and academics around the world have signed a declaration of support for nonviolent direct action against government inaction over the climate and ecological emergency.

      Among the signatories are UBC Institute of the Oceans and Fisheries researcher Jessica Garzke Simpson, UBC Department of Medicine adjunct professor Dr. Shirin Kalyan, UBC marine ecologist David Costalago, UBC Zoology and Biodiversity Research Centre researcher Leticia Avilés, UBC PhD candidate in forest sciences Estefania Milla-Moreno, retired UBC and Cancer Research Centre employee Brad Atchison, and SFU postdoctoral fellow in marine ecology Joran Hollarsmith.

      At current rates of emissions, the world is on track for a nearly 4 C increase in the average global temperature at the end of this century over what it was at the start of the Industrial Revolution.

      This forecast does not take into account the effects of heat-increasing feedback loops that could kick in, including the release of massive amounts of methane from the Arctic and far more carbon emissions from forest fires and the soil.

      Higher temperatures could also bring on rapid ice melting on Greenland and in Antarctica, the disappearance of Arctic sea ice, and further disruption of the oceans' conveyor belt that brings warm water north and cold water south.

      In 2017, British Columbia's total emissions were 64.5 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents. That was a 1.2 percent increase over the previous year and only 0.5 percent below the baseline year of 2007.

      Under the Climate Change Accountability Act, provincial emissions must be at least 40 percent below 2007 levels by 2030 and 60 percent below 2007 levels by 2040.

      Per person emissions are down from just over 15 tonnes per B.C. resident in 2007 to just over 13 tonnes per person in 2017.

      On Wednesday (October 23), Extinction Rebellion will hold a free public talk, "Heading for Extinction & What to Do About It", at 6:30 p.m. at Christ Church Cathedral.