Vancouver teenagers laid on the steps of a federal government building Saturday while staging a “funeral for our future” over a lack of action on climate change.
More than a dozen members of the Sustainabiliteens, a youth climate activist group, held the funeral to mourn the stalled talks at COP25, a United Nations climate conference in Madrid.
The two-week conference was at risk of ending late Saturday without any major commitments from major world economies to further reduce emissions and stop rising temperatures — an outcome organizer Alex Morrison said is unacceptable.
“This should be important to everyone. The world is dying, and we all live in the world,” he said as the funeral went on behind him outside the Environment and Climate Change Canada office on Burrard Street.
“When we’re refusing to do anything about it, when many world leaders are refusing to do anything about it, there’s an obvious problem here.”
The annual climate marathon had been due to conclude on Friday but dragged on with ministers mired in multiple disputes over implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement, which has so far failed to stem the upward march of global carbon emissions.
Long-time participants in the talks expressed outrage at the unwillingness of major polluters to show ambition commensurate with the gravity of the climate crisis, after a year of wildfires, cyclones, droughts and floods around the world.
Canada committed in the Paris Agreement to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 30 per cent to 2005 levels by 2030, but a new U.N. report says the country is on track to miss that target by 15 per cent.
The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2018 report says emissions must be cut by 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 in order to avoid severe climate change impacts.
Morrison said his group is calling on the federal government to end subsidies to the oil and gas industry, which one report estimates receives $3.3 billion annually.
He also said the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion should be stopped once again, and that climate activists should be supported and not restricted from putting pressure on the government.
“If we want to keep the world alive, we need to do better,” he said.
Last month, protesters with Extinction Rebellion led a “funeral procession” through streets and malls in downtown Vancouver, an event that saw six people arrested.
The Sustainabiliteens have been mounting their own protests for months, including a wave of school walkouts earlier this year.
They also turned out in force at a climate strike outside the Vancouver Art Gallery in October that saw an appearance from Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.
—With files from Simon Little and Reuters