Climate strike students praised by EU President

“I am glad to see that young people are taking to the streets in Europe to raise visibility of the issue of climate change. Their movement has spread to many cities and can bring about change. Our goal is to allocate a quarter of our budget to climate change mitigation.”

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission

What do the following organizations have in common? 

Earth Strike, Fridays For Future, Global Climate Strike, 350.org, Sunrise Movement, Extinction Rebellion, The Climate Mobilization…

They are all asking us to join or support the global school and general climate strikes on Friday, September 20 and Friday, September 27. (On September 27, 1962 Rachel Carson’s powerfully illuminating book Silent Spring, detailing the destruction of the natural world by human activity, was published.) 

Global Climate Strike says: “This September, millions of us will walk out of our workplaces and homes to join young climate strikers on the streets and demand an end to the age of fossil fuels. Our house is on fire — let’s act like it. We demand climate justice for everyone.”

In the European Union, the equivalent of US$250 billion will be spent on climate change mitigation each year for seven years, starting in 2021, but Greta Thunberg, the youth activist and school climate striker, who was speaking to the President of the European Commission last February, said that there is more to do and that we cannot wait. Act now, she demands. We must drastically cut Europe’s emissions. Otherwise we will not be able to keep the warming of the globe under 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2030, she explained. She went on to say, “There is simply not enough time to wait for us to grow up and become the ones in charge.” Meanwhile, more than 12,000 students marched in Brussels.

The science certainly agrees with Thunberg, but why then has Canada been such a climate action lagger? Why have adults in Canada been so reluctant to embrace the climate science? Many activists will say that we’re so enmeshed in the consumer-capitalist system that we do not know how to extricate ourselves from a ruinous pathway. The thought of a degrowth, ecologically based way of life is anathema to the vast majority of Canadians. Canada’s fossil fuel consumption continues to grow more rapidly than our politicians would have us believe, while the EU and Russia have significantly lowered their use. In 2016, individual Canadians used more than five times the global average of energy, 29% higher than the average American.

These energy facts are contained in Canada’s Energy Outlook, a recent report by J. David Hughes, one of Canada’s foremost energy experts: energyoutlook.ca

For an excellent, accessible critique of Hughes’ report, see award-winning journalist Andrew Nikiforuk’s article ‘Nine Uncomfortable Canadian Energy Facts’: tinyurl.com/9-uncomfortable-energy-facts

While adults flounder and procrastinate, young people are demanding that governments tell the truth about the climate emergency. Around the world, students of all ages are responding in their millions to confront the apathy and half-measures implemented by governments. 

In the Sherbrooke area, plans are under way in the universities to strike for the climate.

And it is not only students who will be taking part. Adults will be supporting the young people and organizing their own work strikes, many with the recognition of their employers that we must all take a stand against climate and ecological chaos. According to the international environmental organization 350.org, “parents, academics, bakers, trade unions, doctors, farmers, caretakers, celebrities, and teachers” in over 6,000 cities in 169 countries have pledged to organise climate strikes this month.

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