"The Fraser Surrey Coal Exports Expansion....is almost like a manslaughter of our 2020 Greenest City goals," said teenager Alice Xu.

Thirty climate-conscious teens met Saturday at the Vancouver Public Library to figure out how to step up their opposition to a controversial coal export facility.

They were joined by a panel of local politicians and activists including Lynne Quarmby, Paula Williams, Patrick Johnstone, Harold Steves and Andrea Reimer.

Sixteen-year-old Alice Xu said that enabling the coal industry to expand was irreconcilable with the need to act on global warming, as well as Vancouver's ambitions to be the greenest city in North America.

“To have the Fraser Surrey Coal Exports Expansion approved by [Port] Metro Vancouver is almost like a manslaughter of our 2020 Greenest City goals,” Xu said.

She and 15-year-old Bryan Buraga organized the "Lookout! Vancouver" forum on behalf of a Vancouver youth organization called Kids for Climate Action.

“Climate change is our generation’s defining problem and we are the ones who have to take the initiative to deal with it,” said Buraga.

The teens called on local politicians to commit to doing everything in their power to prevent the additional coal-loading facility at Fraser Surrey Docks.

Port Metro Vancouver approved the controversial $15 million export facility in August 2014, sparking a wave of opposition from groups and individuals of all ages. After hearing them, the general question among teens in the room seemed to be, ‘What do we do next?’

The answer appeared to come from a Richmond city councillor. “If [the proponent] wins the court case that says that the Port has the right to break all the laws of British Columbia and all the laws of Metro Vancouver, then we’re going to need you guys manning the barricades with us because that’s where we’re going to be, fighting these guys,” said Councillor Harold Steves.

The teen audience responded with applause and cheers.

Location of proposed coal-loading facility. Fraser Surrey Docks company photo.

Kids for Climate Action is a group that has been “advocating for stronger political action on climate change since 2010 through campaigns, rallies, petitions, and meetings with local politicians,” said Kate Hodgson, the 17-year-old director of the organization. The Fraser Surrey Docks coal transfer project would bring 125-car trains of thermal coal from Wyoming or Montana to the Fraser Surrey docks to be loaded and dispatched to Texada Island for reloading onto cargo vessels to reach Asian markets.

Concerns about the environment, health impacts, noise issues and property-value declines arose from the public upon the proposal of the expansion.

Paula Williams of Communities and Coal—which is helping lead a citizen effort to stop the project—lives in Surrey where the docks would be built. She told the gathered teens that at her first open-house event, she said she “wasn’t sure if [her] community would be concerned by the proposal.”

But much to her surprise, more than 100 attendees approached her afterwards telling her that they wanted to do more.

“Within three months, we had over ten thousand signatures on our petition,” Williams said.

“The port publicly said they’d never had so much opposition over a proposal before. So what had transpired was something very new for them and I think it really brought communities together.”

Then in October 2013, the Fraser Surrey Docks had to conduct a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

“Within four weeks, the EIA was out, when it should have taken six months to a year. ” Williams said, “The EIA was deeply flawed.”

The abrupt turnaround time of the assessment sparked yet another wave of opposition and had critics calling for an unbiased and more thorough review.

Patrick Johnstone, newly elected New Westminster City Councillor said, “This entire project and story is about a deficit of democracy and a deficit of transparency.”

Federal Green Party candidate Lynne Quarmby added: “There’s not much community input. They’re not listening. They’ve been able to operate for a long time until people like you guys start making noise and delivering them coal for Christmas,” Quarmby said, referring to a campaign led by Kids for Climate Action in December of 2013. Among the subjects covered at the meeting were the impact of culture clashes on environmentalism, the chances of a permit being granted to FDS, clarifying the politicians’ commitment to opposing the expansion, the effects of civil disobedience, and how to get people to care about the issue.

Jacqueline Lee-Tam is a teenage Vancouver writer, spoken-word poet and activist. She's also contributed to the Huffington Post. In June 2014, she was highly photographed by news outlets for appearing at a pipeline rally covered in black-paint in protest of potential oil spills. She has a blog called "Little Miss Oil Spill."