Quebec celebrities, politicians and citizens joined forces in Montreal Saturday afternoon by the thousands, taking part in a march to draw attention to climate issues.
The Montreal event was one of several marches held across Quebec and organized by The Planet Goes to Parliament.
Organizers are calling on the government and all elected officials to put in place measures to address climate change and the decline in biodiversity.
The Planet Goes to Parliament describes itself as a citizen-led movement that was created on Sept. 7 in response to “the almost complete absence of climate issues in the Quebec election campaign.”
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The group says now is the time to act and points to this summer’s deadly heat wave — in which several dozen people died — as a sign of things to come if climate change is allowed to go unchecked.
Alexandra Yannoutsos, a McGill University student who attended the protest, drove the point home.
“Studies have shown we’re nearing a point where we can’t go back,” Yannoutsos saidl. “We can’t reverse negative effects of climate change and we really need to take action right now.”
READ MORE: Heat wave blamed for 53 deaths in Montreal
More specifically, organizers want the government to develop an action plan aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and meeting targets set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international body of the United Nations tasked with assessing the science related to climate change.
The Planet Goes to Parliament is also asking the government for accountability, by publishing annual reports tracking its progress when it comes to meeting those targets.
The group is also calling for a ban on new oil and gas explorations and an end to fossil fuel subsidies.
In a press release, Environment Minister MarieChantal Chassé said she would attend the protest.
Nathalie Roy, a spokesperson for The Planet Goes to Parliament, said it was encouraging news.
“They’ve definitely recognized that the citizens’ voices must be heard and that they have to take them into account,” she said. “If the environment minister is here that’s clear recognition that they heard us.”
But Roy remained cautious in her optimism.
“What we hope is they won’t be here only to green wash or for photo ops,” she said. “We want their actions to meet their words.”
— With files from Global’s Dan Spector