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Calgary students join worldwide strike for climate action with Green Party leader

WATCH: Hundreds of people packed Calgary's municipal plaza on Friday for the Global Climate Strike. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, many of the students at the rally say they are scared for the future amid the changing climate.

Over 300 people took part in the Global Climate Strike held in Calgary on Friday at City Hall Municipal Plaza.

They came holding signs that said things like, “Ignore us now, regret it later,” and joined hundreds of thousands of people around the world at similar events calling for action on climate change.

“When I think about this sometimes, I just get paralyzing fear,” said 13-year-old Calgary student Elise Zhang.

Zhang said that since March, she has been gathering at city hall at noon on Fridays as part of Fridays for Future, a movement inspired by Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg.

“We are so scared and hopeful at the same time. We are making large-scale change,” Zhang said.

Chase Cardinal, a 19-year-old Lord Beaverbrook High School grad, said he has also been taking part in the weekly Friday rallies.

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He said it’s upsetting to see governments “move slowly” when it comes to climate change.

“Young people understand the severity of inaction in the situation, and see a lot of the older crowd not taking this issue seriously, and it’s really alarming for a lot of us because we are going to have to live with it,” Cardinal said.

Many of the people attending the rally are too young to vote in the upcoming federal election, but said they are determined to make a difference.

“It’s hard because there’s so much you want to say and so much you want people to represent for you, but I think once my generation can start to vote more, we will see a lot more change,” said 15-year-old Calgary student Katherine Arich.

“Although our province and our city is very oil-and-gas-based, I think there’s a lot more people who are ready for change than is shown.”

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Adults in the crowd said it’s a reminder to them that they need to put more emphasis on generations to come.

“For sure it’s about our quality of life, but also all living things that are going to come after us,” said Pam Rocker, who took part in Friday’s rally. “I think it’s an act of humility for us to really listen to them (the young people) and to do something about it right now.”

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READ MORE: Young Edmontonians join global ‘climate strike’ to demand action on global warming

Watch below: Some videos of climate change protests held across the world on Friday.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May also attended Calgary’s Global Climate Strike on Friday.

Earlier in the day, she was at the Sunalta LRT Station to make an announcement on the party’s plan for a national transportation strategy.

READ MORE: Canada election: Promises Trudeau, Scheer, Singh, May and Blanchet have made

May said Canada’s transportation sector produces over a quarter of Canada’s climate pollution and it leaves big sections of the country with no access to reliable transportation options.

Under the Green Party plan, rail would be the hub with spokes of light-rail transit and electric bus connections. The rail transportation policy promises $600 million in 2020-21 and would build high-speed rail in the Calgary-Edmonton corridor as well as in the Toronto-Ottawa-Quebec City triangle.

“Edmonton to Calgary high-speed rail would be competitive — in time and certainly in dollars — with flying,” May said.

READ MORE: Green Party’s transportation strategy includes carbon-free public transit

She reassured the crowd that people living in Alberta will continue with economic prosperity while reducing carbon emissions.

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“The resources Alberta has are not limited to fossil [fuels],” she said. “Alberta is the best province in Canada for solar energy investments.
“[The province] has tremendous potential, some already in place, for wind energy. The future for all of us, including people in the fossil fuel sector, is far scarier if we don’t act. There is no special climate planet called Alberta which can be insulated from the harm.”

The Global Climate Strike at city hall and a Climate Parade and Expo in Calgary coincides with the first day of an international week-long series of climate action events and educational activities taking place in Calgary and around the world from Sept. 20 to Sept. 27.

Students said they will be back at Calgary City Hall Municipal Plaza for another rally on Sept. 27.

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