London

Q & A: Millions of kids will walk out of class today to protest climate change

She's not old enough to vote, but a Grade 12 student from London, Ont., is hoping politicians will pay attention to climate strikes in communities around Canada, inspired by a teenager from Sweden.

'I would really urge adults to come out and support us. We need them.'

Students march outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria in March. (Mike Macarthur/CBC News)

She's not old enough to vote, but a Grade 12 student from London, Ont., is hoping politicians will pay attention to climate strikes in communities around Canada and across the world.

Millions of kids worldwide are expected to strike May 3, demanding action on climate change from global leaders and local politicians. 

Emma Lim is a student at Banting Secondary School in London, Ont., and she spoke to London Morning's Rebecca Zandbergen about the weekly climate strikes which draw attention to the threat of climate change

Where did the idea come from to hold these strikes?

I think it came from the youth. We grow up in a society where we're always taught about climate change and about all the horrible things that are happening as a result, but we're also taught that there's nothing we can do. For a lot of us, when we saw Greta Thunburg begin striking it really inspired us to create similar strikes in our communities.

From there, it's gained a lot of momentum, and for me it's changed to something I was doing in London alone to something I'm doing nationally.  

How inspirational has the story of the girl in Sweden been? 

It's been incredibly inspirational. She's a real reminder for every single one of us on how dangerous and dire this situation is and how much we can do about it. 

Students across Canada are walking out of class and demanding the government take action on climate change. Sir Frederick Banting Secondary student Emm Lim is one of the national organizers. She tells London Morning she's meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. 6:07

How active have you been on this in London? 

Fairly active. I strike every Friday. I planned a large rally and I started coordinating strikes across Ontario and most recently I helped plan a Toronto strike, and I'm in Ottawa planning something here. I strike every Friday and I think it's a point of contention between my teaches and myself, but at a certain point, these things need to be done. I feel it's necessary to miss so much school. 

How are politicians reacting? 

I'm in Ottawa because we're speaking to Justin Trudeau. London, Ont., declared a climate emergency which I think is a fantastic step in the right direction, but I think it might take a bit more work to get through to our premier. 

Why is it important for young people to lead the charge? 

I would say to you that it's not necessary to have young people leading the charge, it's important for anybody at all to be calling for action on climate change because we have 11 years now before the worst effects of climate change become irreversible. The effect on agriculture, fisheries, forestry, on human life will be immeasurable. It's been the youth who have stepped forward.

For a country that is so progressive and supposedly cares so much about the environment, there's a lot more that we could be doing.- Emma Lim

I initially looked for adults who were leading strikes in my area and there was nobody on the scale that I wanted to see. For a lot of us, we were the only people who were willing to devote our time and energy to do this, and so it's become youth-led. But I would really urge adults to come out and support us. We need them. 

What happens today? 

Today we strike all across Canada and internationally. May 3 is the day for striking for all of us. There will be massive strikes in Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto. A large amount of communite striking alongside us. 

What will you tell Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when you meet with him today? 

I will reiterate our message about how important it is to act before it's too late. Justin Trudeau is an advocate for climate change but sometimes his words speak louder than his actions. Canada is not on track to meet the goals we made in Paris Agreement, our emission reduction rates don't align with science, we continue to fund pipeline projects.

For a country that is so progressive and supposedly cares so much about the environment, there's a lot more that we could be doing and a lot that we need to be doing. 

Will you continue to strike every Friday? 

Absolutely, yes. 

And if the teachers say that's not good enough, what will you say to them? 

I'll say that right now the action we're taking on climate change is not good enough. 

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.