Kitchener teen calls on Canada to declare national climate emergency

Elizabeth Rose, 15, wrote a letter to her member of parliament ahead of a vote in the House of Commons next week on a motion to declare a climate emergency.

House of Commons to vote on motion from Environment Minister Catherine McKenna next week

Elizabeth Rose, 15, of Kitchener wants Canada to declare a national climate emergency and she's written to her MP about it. She says she's worried about her future if the government doesn't act now. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

A Kitchener teenager is urging the federal government to declare a national climate emergency.

Elizabeth Rose wrote a letter to her member of parliament, Raj Saini, asking elected officials to support a motion to declare a climate emergency on behalf of children in Canada.

In the letter, the 15-year-old wrote that she will not be able to celebrate her 75th birthday if the county doesn't take action to address climate change.

"For people who are older in this world, it's not exactly something that will have as big of an impact on them as young people, because young people have to live in the world that is affected by climate change," Rose said in an interview with CBC Kitchener-Waterloo.

Rose said many people don't really understand the impact climate change will have on the future.

"I know there are a lot of really horrible things happening in Ottawa right now with the floods right now, but at least where I live in Kitchener, it's a little bit warmer in the winters, but other than that there haven't been any great disasters," she said.

"People don't really understand that for the kids, it will affect them so much when we grow up and this will just be our lives."

Government to vote on climate emergency motion

The House of Commons will vote next week on a motion to declare a national climate emergency.

The motion was tabled by Environment Minister Catherine McKenna on Thursday.

"We were elected by Canadians from coast to coast to coast, who expect us to stand up. Who expect us to make decisions based on science, who expect us to take action to tackle climate change, who expect us to come together on the biggest challenge that we face. Who expect us to answer our kids," McKenna said.

"Our kids are marching in the streets, demanding that we step up."

Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna tabled a motion to declare a climate emergency in the House of Commons last Thursday, (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

McKenna's motion comes on the heels of another similar motion from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, which was voted down in the House of Commons on Thursday.

Rose said it's frustrating as a young person to watch politicians debate the issue of climate change over and over again, without taking any action.

But Rose said it has been inspiring to watch other young people speak out.

'A chain reaction'

In her letter to MP Raj Saini she points to Greata Thunberg, the 15-year-old climate activist from Sweden who has become famous around the world.

Rose is hopeful more people, including the government, will pay attention as children and teens continue to make their voices heard.

"Parents listen to their kids. So if their kids are having an issue with something, they will take it seriously because parents love their kids," she said.

"And I think if it's being talked about in schools, teachers will listen and then it will just sort of start a chain reaction and it will get back to people everywhere."

Thousands of young people around the world have participated in climate strikes, including at this event in Vancouver. Kitchener teenager Elizabeth Rose hopes the government will listen to young people and declare a climate emergency. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Listen to the interview with Elizabeth Rose here:


  • A previous version of this story said the House of Commons will vote on the government's motion this week. The House is currently adjourned until Monday, May 27. Any upcoming votes will take place next week.
    May 21, 2019 11:46 AM ET


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