Canada: Sold-out theatre production on climate change

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In Canada, the theatre production ‘The Trial of David Suzuki’ became a sold out event which intrigued an audience of all ages. To the Canadian scientist, broadcaster and author David Suzuki, it provided a way to discuss the threat of human-induced climate change without first having to “prove” it is happening.


Dr David Suzuki has won numerous awards and is world-famous for being an advocate for both humanity and the environment. On 6 November 2013, he staged an unusual and dramatic theatre production in Toronto: ‘The Trial of David Suzuki’ – a mock trial, held at the Royal Ontario Museum. He stood accused of seditious libel – spreading lies against the government – and the show was promoted as if it had been a real trial where Suzuki would have to defend his ‘Carbon Manifesto’ which had been published as an nine-minute video on a month earlier.

Landslide consensus
Joanna Katchutas wrote in Freshprint Magazine: 
“The Carbon Manifesto, in which he claims that climate change is a matter too urgent to keep delaying significant action, states that we need to work as a nation to end the exploration and production of oil by 2035 and begin to change the way we live now as the future of our youth and their children depend on it.

Created and produced by Laurie Brown – an advocate for the arts and a Canadian radio personality – ‘The Trial of David Suzuki’ argued and gathered public opinion on whether or not Dr. Suzuki’s Manifesto is a plan that will save the world or destroy the Canadian economy as we know it.

The cast of the trial included actual lawyers (Linda Rothstein and Will McDowell), a judge, a jury, government of Canada Officials, artists and scientists, expert witnesses (business professor Michael Hlinka and Environmental Minister of Ontario Gord Miller) and of course, Dr. David Suzuki himself with Laurie Brown acting as the bailiff.

At the end of the performance the audience was encouraged to share their opinions by voting on whether or not they felt that Dr. Suzuki was guilty or innocent of sedition. The consensus of the trial was in favour of Dr. Suzuki by a landslide.”

Provided a way to discuss the threat
The day after the event, David Suzuki explained on the theatre production’s home
“The mock trial provided a way to discuss the threat of human-induced climate change without first having to “prove” it is happening. The latest IPCC report provided the scientific heft and sense of urgency. I didn’t know what to expect of the audience’s final decision but was gratified with the result, of course. I hope we can conclude that the audience navigated through the arguments and claims to conclude that these were valid concerns and solutions.

I have to repeat a bit of what I said last night. In 1988, an international meeting of climatologists was held in Toronto where the scientists were so concerned with the threat of global warming that they issued a call for a 20% reduction in greenhouse gases in 15 years. Had we heeded that call which at that time was very achievable, we would have been well on our way to a path of sustainable energy. But in order to get U.S. President George HW Bush to attend the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, a much watered down target of stabilization of 1990 levels of emission by 2000 was signed, but then ignored.

In 1997, in Kyoto, delegates proposed a target of 5–6% reduction below 1990 levels by 2010. Canada ratified the Kyoto treaty in 2001 but did little to achieve the reduction and the current government withdrew from the treaty altogether as our emissions continued to rise. Unlike the prosecutor’s claims last night, there are countries that are taking strong steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The carbon manifesto was based on the need to move to non-carbon energy much faster.

That’s why the mock trial was so timely. The warming is already upon us yet we still have time to hold off chaos and any further delay simply leaves an unprecedented future for our children and grandchildren. Thanks everyone who participated in what I hope will be a continuing call for action. Please click to take my Manifesto Pledge and then share it widely with your family and friends.”
David Suzuki


Video trailer for ‘The Trial of David Suzuki’.

The Trial of David Suzuki: Act 1.

On 9 October 2013, David Suzuki unveiled his ‘Carbon Manifesto’ on the steps of Toronto’s Courthouse.

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Media coverage

Freshprint Magazine – 11 November 2013:
The Trial of David Suzuki
Review by Joanna Katchutas: “I wonder where I’ll be “when I’m sixty four” (got the Beatles lyrics going through my head). The Carbon Manifesto affects us, the youth of our nation.  I suppose many others at the Trial agreed with me – I took the Manifesto Pledge and I think for the sake of our future (since we are the future), we all should.”

The Star - 10 November 2013:
David Suzuki shows the ROM how we’ll die: Mallick
Review by Heather Mallick: “In a new play, David Suzuki again shows us the price we’ll all pay if we don’t act now on climate change.”

Financial Post – 7 November 2013:
‘Trial of David Suzuki’ a mockery of a mock trial
Review by Peter Foster: “The real lesson of this mockery of a mock trial was what it said about the objectivity and openness of Suzuki nation”

Fossil Fuel Free Future – 27 October 2013:
Carbon Manifesto
In from Canada comes this scientist and environmentalist with a ‘Carbon Manifesto’ and the kind of speech on youtube which makes him stand out as one of that kind of climate crisis leaders humanity as a whole has been missing in this last decade where politicians have allowed carbon emissions to escalate to this point where they threaten to destroy the planet as we know it.

David Suzuki’s Carbon Manifesto
Published on on 10 October 2013

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