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5,000KM Unicycle Ride for Climate Action Passes 2-Week, 500km Milestone

April 23, 2014

Joseph Boutilier set out from his hometown of Victoria BC on April 5 to unicycle 5,000km to Ottawa in the name of pressing for more action on climate change. Now the 23-year-old is passing a number of important milestones as the 5-month journey moves into its second week. On Sunday, April 20, Boutilier passed through Midway BC, representing approximately halfway through his home-province, and he spent Earth Day (April 22) in Grand Forks. On Thursday, April 24, Boutilier will enter Christina BC where he’ll prepare to trek the Paulson Summit. “People often say the Alison Pass in Manning Park, the Anarchist Summit and the Paulson Summit are three of the hardest climbs in Western Canada,” says Boutilier. “I’ve done two of the three now, so I’m feeling optimistic about Paulson.” Boutilier plans to take the 3A through Balfour to detour the Kootenay Pass, where the highway is still surrounded by snow.

Boutilier estimates he’s travelled just over 500km so far. “I’m roughly 10% done in terms of distance and time, which is awesome,” Boutilier reflects. “Given all the hills, that means I’m actually about a week ahead of schedule.” Boutilier plans to use the extra time to wait for better weather conditions at high altitudes, and make more time for organizing. “There’s always more to do,” he notes, “whether it’s arranging meetings and events or just haring some of my amazing experiences online to keep supporters in the loop.”

Boutilier’s favourite part of the journey so far is the personal connections he’s been able to make. “Whether it’s local mayors and councillors filling me in on green initiatives, or just the many generous folks who have given me a warm meal or a roof over my head,” he reflects, “everyone has a story to tell about how they’re taking steps to respond to the threat of climate change, which is a very-real, very prevalent concern everywhere I’ve been.”

Boutilier feels that many individuals, small businesses and municipal governments are making great strides to tackle climate change, but that the Canadian government hasn’t kept up. Canada is more than 30% off its own carbon-emission reduction targets set as part of the Copenhagen accord in 2009, and the government continues to give away $1.4b in annual subsidies to the fossil fuel industry despite the fact that it only contributes 5% to the country’s GDP. “The latest IPCC report released just this month solidified serious concerns in the scientific community that we are very, very close to the brink of catastrophic warming,” Boutilier says, “and climate change is already costing hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide, not to mention billions of dollars here in Canada every year.”

Boutilier was excited to see people ‘raise the volume’ on the climate issue this Earth Day. “It’s great to see climate action and climate justice at the forefront of the discussion.” Earth Day also marked the beginning of the ‘Global Climate Convergence’ – a 10-day series of climate action events in the US – and new protests against the Keystone XL in the US and Canada. May 10 will mark another resurgence of climate action in Canada with the return of the ‘Defend Our Climate’ campaign of national rallies. Boutilier hopes to fuel that passion for change and momentum as he approaches Ottawa in mid-September. “Climate issues have to be put back on the map, where they belong, as the number-one priority for Canadians and politicians alike in the 2015 election,” he says.

For more information contact:
Joseph Boutilier
Unity for the Climate
Phone: 778-922-2531

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