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Thousands rally with Greta Thunberg at Alberta legislature for climate strike amid counter-rally

WATCH: Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg spoke at a rally in Edmonton, where she said the climate crisis needs to be treated as a crisis.

Thousands of Albertans streamed into downtown Edmonton on Friday afternoon as Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg drew a massive crowd for a climate rally and pro-pipeline supporters also gathered to show their disapproval.

“We are not doing this because we want to,” Thunberg said to the massive crowd. “We aren’t doing it because it’s fun. We aren’t doing it because we have a special interest in the climate or because we want to become politicians when we grow up.

“We are doing this because our future is at stake,” Thunberg said.

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Thunberg told the crowd “you are the hope” and referenced numbers from the 2018 IPCC report, the same numbers she referenced in her speech to the United Nations.

Greta Thunberg visit ignites passion in Albertans
Greta Thunberg visit ignites passion in Albertans

READ MORE: ‘How dare you’: Greta Thunberg gives powerful, emotional speech to the UN

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“If we are to have a 67 per cent chance of limiting the global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees we had, on Jan. 1, 2018, 420 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide left in our CO2 budget. And now that number is down to less than 360 gigatonnes, as we emit equal to 42 gigatonnes of CO2 every year,” Thunberg said.

“We are doing this because in this crisis we will not be bystanders. And we are doing it because we want the people in power to unite behind the science.”

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Thunberg was also spotted marching with protesters downtown earlier in the day during the Climate Justice Edmonton march to the Alberta legislature.

Greta Thunberg joins climate rally of thousands in Edmonton
Greta Thunberg joins climate rally of thousands in Edmonton

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The large group of climate change protesters could be heard chanting, “What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!” as they marched down Jasper Avenue and 108 Street to the legislature.

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg speaks at a climate rally at the Alberta legislature in Edmonton Friday, Oct. 18, 2019.
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg speaks at a climate rally at the Alberta legislature in Edmonton Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Kirby Bourne, 630 CHED
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg speaks at a climate rally at the Alberta legislature in Edmonton Friday, Oct. 18, 2019.
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg speaks at a climate rally at the Alberta legislature in Edmonton Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Kirby Bourne, 630 CHED
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg in Edmonton Friday, Oct. 18, 2019.
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg in Edmonton Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Global News
Aerial footage of the climate rally in downtown Edmonton over the noon hour
Aerial footage of the climate rally in downtown Edmonton over the noon hour

A group of oil-and-gas supporters and a pro-pipeline truck convoy from Red Deer were also on hand at the legislature, organized by the United We Roll group.

United We Roll supporters gather in Nisku ahead of the climate rally in Edmonton on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019.
United We Roll supporters gather in Nisku ahead of the climate rally in Edmonton on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Dave Carels, Global News
United We Roll supporters gather in Nisku ahead of the climate rally in Edmonton on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019.
United We Roll supporters gather in Nisku ahead of the climate rally in Edmonton on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Dave Carels, Global News

Numerous United We Roll trucks pulled in at the legislature just before noon, honking their horns and beating the thousands of marchers on foot by just moments.

Teen climate activist’s Edmonton visit met with counter-protest
Teen climate activist’s Edmonton visit met with counter-protest

Edmonton police say they estimate a total of about 4,000 people were at the legislature for the event—and that there were no arrests.

“Both of the groups worked very well with the Edmonton Police Service to make sure this was an orderly event,” Insp. Jonathan Coughlan said.

Organizers and police worked to ensure safety during climate rally and convoy
Organizers and police worked to ensure safety during climate rally and convoy

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READ MORE: Alberta oil and gas advocates plan counter-rally amid Greta Thunberg’s visit to Edmonton

United We Roll also held a pro-pipeline convoy to Parliament Hill in February — says its members are frustrated with celebrities visiting the province and telling Albertans how to run their business.

The convoy started at Gorts Truck Wash in Red Deer at 7 a.m. before making its way up the QEII. Blackjacks Games Room in Nisku was also scheduled to serve as a staging area for the convoy before it travelled to the Alberta legislature in time for the noon climate rally.

“We have the oil industry with the highest environment standards in the world, highest safety standards, labour code, all of that,” convoy co-organizer Joel Mullan said.

“We have an industry we can be immensely proud of, and that’s what we’re going to do today is show that pride and our support for it.”

Alberta counter-rally amid Greta Thunberg’s visit
Alberta counter-rally amid Greta Thunberg’s visit

Organizers said the counter-rally is meant to be peaceful.

Edmonton police said that they were prepared for Friday’s event, and while specialized resources were assigned to “maintain peace and ensure the safety of citizens,” protests like these are planned for each year.

“We do expect, especially being a capital city in Alberta… [that] there will be protests relating to the issues of the day,” said Coughlan.
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“We do have budget and manpower for that purpose, and specific training.”

READ MORE: Alberta truck convoy in support of pipelines rolls through Red Deer

Thunberg has been making headlines for criticizing world leaders, whom she accuses of letting down youth by doing too little to tackle climate change.

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson extended an invitation to Thunberg to visit city hall. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said he hopes Thunberg is warmly welcomed, but there are no plans for the UCP to meet with her.

READ MORE: Calgary climate activists board buses for Edmonton climate change rally

On the streets of climate change rally in Edmonton
On the streets of climate change rally in Edmonton
Members of United We Roll gather at Blackjacks Games Room in Nisku, Alta., Friday, Oct. 18, 2019.
Members of United We Roll gather at Blackjacks Games Room in Nisku, Alta., Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Dave Carels, Global News
Members of United We Roll gather at Blackjacks Games Room in Nisku, Alta., Friday, Oct. 18, 2019.
Members of United We Roll gather at Blackjacks Games Room in Nisku, Alta., Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Dave Carels, Global News
Members of United We Roll gather at Blackjacks Games Room in Nisku, Alta., Friday, Oct. 18, 2019.
Members of United We Roll gather at Blackjacks Games Room in Nisku, Alta., Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Dave Carels, Global News
Members of United We Roll gather at Blackjacks Games Room in Nisku, Alta., Friday, Oct. 18, 2019.
Members of United We Roll gather at Blackjacks Games Room in Nisku, Alta., Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Dave Carels, Global News
Members of United We Roll gather at Blackjacks Games Room in Nisku, Alta., Friday, Oct. 18, 2019.
Members of United We Roll gather at Blackjacks Games Room in Nisku, Alta., Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Dave Carels, Global News
Members of United We Roll gather at Blackjacks Games Room in Nisku, Alta., Friday, Oct. 18, 2019.
Members of United We Roll gather at Blackjacks Games Room in Nisku, Alta., Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Dave Carels, Global News
Members of United We Roll gather at Blackjacks Games Room in Nisku, Alta., Friday, Oct. 18, 2019.
Members of United We Roll gather at Blackjacks Games Room in Nisku, Alta., Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Dave Carels, Global News
Members of United We Roll gather at Blackjacks Games Room in Nisku, Alta., Friday, Oct. 18, 2019.
Members of United We Roll gather at Blackjacks Games Room in Nisku, Alta., Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Dave Carels, Global News
People gather for a climate strike rally in Edmonton, Alta., Friday, Oct. 18, 2019.
People gather for a climate strike rally in Edmonton, Alta., Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Kirby Bourne, Global News
People gather for a climate strike rally in Edmonton, Alta., Friday, Oct. 18, 2019.
People gather for a climate strike rally in Edmonton, Alta., Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Kirby Bourne, Global News
People gather for a climate strike rally in Edmonton, Alta., Friday, Oct. 18, 2019.
People gather for a climate strike rally in Edmonton, Alta., Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Kirby Bourne, Global News
Protesters gathered in downtown Edmonton on Oct. 18, 2019.
Protesters gathered in downtown Edmonton on Oct. 18, 2019. Fletcher Kent / Global News

— With files from The Canadian Press and Global’s Slav Kornik

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