Hundreds rally at University of Calgary, City Hall for Global Climate Strike
'We're at that point now where if we don't do anything presently, then it will be too late'
Hundreds of people braved the rain to take part in Global Climate Strike rallies at the University of Calgary and downtown outside City Hall on Friday.
Similar demonstrations are happening in communities across Canada and around the world as activists demand that political leaders take more robust actions to address global warming.
The rallies and demonstrations are timed to coincide with the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York.
Other events took place in Calgary as well, including Fridays for Future — started by Swedish teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg — which saw school children and post-secondary students rally at noon at City Hall.
According to the group behind the U of C event, YYC for a Green New Deal, roughly 600 students pledged to participate and more were expected to attend the campus event before heading downtown to join the City Hall rally, which swelled to as many as 500 demonstrators.
Westmount Charter School student Elise Zhang, 13, who helped organize the City Hall rally, said she was amazed by the turnout.
"It is important for the youth to be heard because we are not the generation that has caused this issue. We are the generation that will have to live with the effects however, we will have to deal with whatever happens right now," she said.
Mateusz Salmassi, an organizer with Student for Direct Action, says the strong turnout at the U of C should dispel any misconception that university students like him don't care about climate change.
"I think it's a tipping point. I think the fact that we're talking about a Green New Deal means that we're addressing the economic pain that Alberta is feeling and I think that really strikes a chord, and it says explicitly in all the language that we're not going to leave anyone behind," he said.
A Green New Deal would provide graduating engineers with incredible job opportunities, given that the transition to a net-zero economy would directly create 3.9 million jobs in Canada, he said.
The students are calling for policies that reflect the scientific consensus on the need to cut emission in half by 2030 to avert the worst effects of climate change, as well as to boost Indigenous rights, and the need to help workers transition to green jobs.
Protester Tristan Llewellyn said the world's at a turning point.
"Why now? Because we've delayed it for too long. We're at that point now where if we don't do anything presently, then it will be too late," he said.
"We have to change policy, we have to change energy infrastructure, we have to change transportation, we have to change agriculture, we have to change our lifestyles."
Thunberg, 16, who spurred Friday's global action, says it's moving to see so many people united "for one common cause." She took part the event in Montreal, where she met with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau beforehand.
The teenage activist said she delivered the same message to Trudeau that she gives to all politicians — that he needs to listen to the science and act on it.
With files from The Canadian Press