#NoFutureNoBabies: Why some teens are taking a drastic pledge

Published 2019-09-18 10:52

Campaign was launched during the election to get the leaders’ attention

Canada’s climate strikers are having a hard time imagining a future for themselves and the next generation.

“I’m scared,” said 18-year-old Emma Lim, who is a student in Montreal.

She’s one of more than 600 people who have signed a pledge (so far), saying they won’t have children until the government takes serious action on climate change.

“I am afraid that [children in the future] will have to live through things that people shouldn't have to deal with,” she told CBC Kids News.

A teenage girl speaks into a microphone

Emma helped organize school climate strikes in her hometown of London, Ont., last year. Thousands of students skipped school to raise awareness about the climate crisis. (Submitted by Emma Lim)

On Monday, she was in Ottawa to launch this most recent campaign.

“It was a combination of things,” she said when asked what led her to this decision. “Losing faith in my elected officials, in talking to my friends and realizing we all felt the same way about the future.”

Emma admitted the pledge doesn’t affect her life right now, as she’s not ready to have kids, but she said she always planned to be a mother.

“I won’t put my children in danger,” she said.

Boys taking the pledge, too

Joshua Kearny, 18, of Whitehorse, also took the pledge.

He said his dream is to one day have three kids.

“Right now, there’s no way I could even fathom introducing three kids into the world,” he said. “If it keeps going the way it is, my kids won’t be living in a healthy world.”

Joshua Kearny said asthma runs in his family and he’s worried that if he were to have kids, they could have asthma, too. (Submitted by Joshua Kearny)

Living in the North, he said he has seen the effects of climate change, like warmer winters.

“It was making me nervous,” he said. “I have asthma and asthma runs in my family... I can’t imagine a future where we’re struggling to breathe."

He worries that the air quality will be so poor in the future that “my kids won’t be able to go out and play.”

He said he hopes more guys will take the pledge as well.

“We can’t just have half of our generation, just the women, taking a stand,” he said. “We need all of us as a whole to combine our forces to actually make our message heard.”

Emma is hoping the message will get across to the Canadian politicians who are in the midst of a federal election campaign.

What the politicians say

CBC Kids News asked the four main political parties (Liberal, Conservative, NDP and Green) for their views on the pledge.

While they all make promises to tackle climate change in different ways, only two parties addressed the pledge directly in their response to CBC Kids News.

During a campaign stop on Monday, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was asked the question by the media.

He said, “Obviously as someone with five children, I believe children are a great blessing, and they are the future of our country and the future of our society.”

A politican speaks at a campaign event in front of supporters.

Andrew Scheer, the leader of the Conservative Party, speaks at a campaign event in Ottawa. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

He went on to say that under the current Liberal government, the country is falling further behind its target from the Paris Agreement, to keep the rise in temperatures below 2C .

"I understand why [the youth] would be frustrated with this Liberal government.”

In a written response, an NDP spokesperson said, “It is commendable to see young people engaged and rightfully calling on governments to take action on climate change. They are right to be worried about the future."

A politician speaks at a campaign event in front of supporters

Jagmeet Singh, the leader of the NDP, makes an announcement in Toronto earlier this month. (Christopher Katsarov/Canadian Press)

“When even children are raising their concerns over the health of our planet, we know that the time of delay is over. We must take bold action to protect our environment.”

Taking her own action on climate change

In the meantime, Emma has made changes in her daily life to reduce her carbon footprint.

She currently lives in Montreal, where she’s attending university.

She travels home to London, Ont., by bus, even if the drive takes 17 hours instead of 90 minutes by plane.

A group of teens gather at a protest

Emma Lim, centre, participates in her first climate strike.. She has made several changes to her lifestyle to help reduce her carbon footprint. (Submitted by Emma Lim.)

She also stopped eating meat and buying new clothes.

“I really like to shop, so that was hard,” she said.

She now shops exclusively at thrift stores.

“I remember in high school really caring about … following fashion trends,” she said. “It just doesn’t matter to me anymore.”

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