‘They need to act now’: Frustrated B.C. youth protest inaction on climate change

Students walk out of classes in Vancouver for a Climate Strike on Friday. Global News

Hundreds of young people gathered at the B.C. legislature in Victoria and Vancouver Art Gallery on Friday to protest what they say is government inaction addressing climate change.

The young demonstrators were joined by thousands of their peers, who staged “Climate Strike” walkouts at schools across the county.

Students bore signs with slogans such as “I bet the dinosaurs thought they had time,” and “there is no planet B.”

“We’re trying to show governments that we care about climate change and they need to act now,” said 16-year-old Emma-Jane Burian with Our Earth Our Future.

“It’s simple: they aren’t going to meet the Paris targets, we’re not going to meet the [former] Conservative government’s targets, and so really they can say what they want, but they’re not doing anything.”
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To meet its Paris Agreement commitments, Canada must cut carbon emissions to 70 per cent of their 2005 levels by 2030.

However, the latest national inventory report on emissions filed with the United Nations climate change secretariat reported that Canada had actually increased its carbon emissions by eight million tonnes between 2016 and 2017.

Canada needs to get emissions to no more than 511 million tonnes by 2030 to meet its pledge, but emitted 716 million tonnes of greenhouse gasses in 2017.

WATCH: Vancouver students rally for climate change action

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Vancouver students rally for climate change action

Rebecca Wolf Gage, 13, told Global News that young people feel forced to act because, in their eyes, adults are only paying lip service to addressing the climate crisis.

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“We can’t vote or run for parliament and we know the future is being taken away from us,” she said.

“Adults have tried for a long time to communicate to other adults in parliament to reduce our carbon footprint so we don’t have to do this. But we’ve seen our governments are doing nothing. Some of the adults are trying but they can’t do it. Youth, we have the voice of the future, so we can try.”

The walk-outs in Vancouver and Victoria were just two of more than a dozen events scheduled in cities across Canada on Friday.

Lilah Williamson with Vancouver’s Sustainabiliteens said students have no plans to stop striking.

“We are planning to do strikes hopefully every month,” she said.

“We’re asking them to prioritize climate change above everything.”

In March, Climate Strike Canada says more than 160,000 Canadian youth took to the streets to protest government policies on climate change.

The worldwide Climate Strike movement was inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who began holding solitary demonstrations outside Sweden’s parliament last year.

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Thunberg has since been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

— With files from Sean Boynton and the Canadian Press

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