Zya Quarmyne-Langdon was around 10 years old when she first participated in a Fridays for Future climate strike in Halifax. She grew up in a family passionate about the environment, with parents who “weren't the type of people who would not tell me things to protect me.”
As a child, she said she felt scared and isolated carrying the weight of understanding the climate crisis and seeing inaction and indifference among those with a responsibility to address it. However, participating in the strikes has shifted that.
“This is a way of showing people who are like me that they're not alone. And that there are things we can do to fix it. We just have to do it,” said Quarmyne-Langdon, now 15.
She was one of hundreds gathered in Halifax on Sept. 15 to demand an end to fossil fuel extraction and use, marking the fifth global climate strike since then 15-year-old Greta Thunberg started protesting outside the Swedish legislature. Over 50 cities in Canada are taking part in climate action on Friday and throughout the weekend under the Global Fight to End Fossil Fuels movement, which includes Fridays for Future along with other marches.
Globally, millions of people will strike over the weekend demanding climate justice. The strikes come as world leaders converge for the United Nations Climate Ambition Summit in New York City on Sunday, marking the lead up to the UN’s 28th annual climate conference, or COP (short for Conference of the Parties), which seeks to set a global climate action agenda and provide a framework to hold countries accountable.
Hundreds gathered in Halifax on Sept.ember 15th to demand an end to fossil fuel extraction and use as part of the @Fridays4future movement.
While the strike in Halifax stressed big picture demands — such as the need to maintain 1.5 C of global warming above pre-industrial levels as per the 2015 Paris Agreement — there were many local issues highlighted by speakers. The region has seen a summer marked by intense wildfires and floods and is bracing for an intense hurricane season: all of which are made more severe due to climate change, caused largely by the burning of fossil fuels.
Meanwhile, the province has stalled on implementing the Coastal Protection Act, which will decide where it's safe to build new homes and buildings along the shoreline of the province as sea levels rise and climate change contributes to greater erosion and flooding. Environmental racism in the region was also highlighted.
The strike kicked off in front of city hall before marching through downtown, pausing at the headquarters of Nova Scotia Power, the province’s privately owned utility, while chanting: “No more coal, no more oil, keep your carbon in the soil.” Thirty-seven per cent of the power generated in Nova Scotia comes from coal and there are eight coal-fired generating units currently operating at four plants across the province.
Strike organizer Rae Steeves said after a summer of extreme weather events, which followed hurricane Fiona last fall, it does seem like Nova Scotia is “kind of waking up” to the effects of climate change.
“But I also think it's very privileged of us to just be waking up now because other places have already been flooded, et cetera,” they said.
“But I do think people are getting more scared now as we're experiencing this weather. And people who may not have been interested before are kind of waking up and really understanding that this is kind of just the beginning of what a future with climate change could look like.”