Saskatchewan’s environment minister made good on his six-week promise to attend Regina’s next climate rally.
On Friday, Dustin Duncan spoke with a crowd of students in front of the Saskatchewan legislature where students gathered to demand immediate action on climate change.
“Without the strikes, people won’t be aware enough to take the proper action,” said Ada Dechene, a local youth who is helping lead the Regina movement.
Protesters asked Duncan to declare a climate emergency and to implement tougher emission reduction targets.
Duncan said he’s been listening to the message students across the globe have been sending to decision-makers and leaders, but he’s not prepared to declare a climate emergency.
“We certainly understand we need to do more in reducing our emissions and be good environmental stewards,” Duncan said.
“I’m not really sure with declaring an emergency. That in and of itself wouldn’t necessarily change the direction the province is going in.”
He spoke to students about the province’s Prairie Resilience climate change strategy which drew boos from the crowd while others championed the carbon tax.
Following the strike, Duncan told reporters the Saskatchewan government favours investing money into technology that eliminates emissions over imposing a carbon tax on residents.
“Put dollars into where it’s actually going to do a lot of good to reduce emissions, and that’d be through technology.”
The environment minister’s commitment to students isn’t complete yet.
“We have some ideas how we want to engage with students, and to hear more from students.”
Other cities across the globe also participated in climate rallies on Friday, days before the latest UN climate summit, which takes place in Madrid.
Duncan acknowledged individuals around the world are placing tougher demands on leaders. His five-year-old son Jack is also becoming aware of the issues.
“We want him to have hope in the future. We want him to know there’s a future for him and we want to make sure he knows about some of the challenges … but also don’t want to leave him with a feeling that there’s no hope, or that there’s no future.
“I want to be able to look back — and him to be able to look back — with as much ability as I had in the role that I have, to hopefully contribute in a positive way.”