A massive turnout for a youth-led climate protest in Vancouver Friday highlighted the rising frustration with the status quo as global warming and extreme weather events continue to skyrocket, say youth climate activists.
This shows that people are not willing to stand around for business as usual and we're looking to have some meaningful change,” youth activist-scholar Manvi Bhalla, president of the Shake Up The Establishment advocacy group, told Canada’s National Observer before addressing the crowd at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
“This is a peaceful initiative, but it’s disruptive, underscoring that business as usual is not working for us and something needs to fundamentally change.”
The demand is straightforward, Bhalla said.
“We want an end to fossil fuels in all contexts. Our ask is it’s fast, fair and forever.”
Thousands converged at Vancouver's city hall for the youth-led global climate strike before marching across the Cambie Street Bridge to the Vancouver Art Gallery, where Indigenous leaders, activists, speakers and artists took to the stage.
The Vancouver protest is part of a global wave of actions — including Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future movement — demanding the end of fossil fuels after the planet and our country were savaged by record heat, savage wildfires, flooding and other climate extremes this summer.
Schoolchildren, student organizers, parents, professionals, seniors and just about anyone concerned about the shocking rise of extreme climate events and the failure of governments to wind down the oil and gas industry are taking part in the march, said university student and community organizer José Reyeros Sánchez.
Thousands of young people and activists led a climate strike in Vancouver Friday, joining a global day of action to put an end to fossil fuels super-heating the planet. #ClimateCrisis #2023ClimateStrike #Vancouver #StopFossilFuels
The Canadian government needs to implement a strong fair and immediate emissions cap on top of the carbon tax,” he said.
“The emissions policy was first promised by the Liberals more than two years ago, and the cap has been delayed again and again,” Sánchez said.
The B.C. government also has to end the expansion of LNG markets, phase out fracking of natural gas and stop the logging of old-growth forests, he added.
The strike is being co-ordinated by a collective of local grassroots groups, including Climate Convergence, For Our Kids Vancouver and Burnaby, Force of Nature, Doctors for Planetary Health, and Fridays for the Future Vancouver.
The federal and provincial governments are succumbing to the fossil fuel sector and industry lobbying, Sánchez said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau must stand up to oil and gas companies and deliver policies that put Canadians’ health and future over the profits of big polluters, he stressed.
B.C. was scorched by a summer of fire and drought, which drives up people’s grief and eco-anxiety, Sánchez said.
“Youth are dealing with these emotions more than any other generation has done,” he said.
But there is a lot of joy, hope and empowerment when they organize and act collectively at a grassroots level.
“We can still look for hope.
We just need to work and do it together.”
Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada's National Observer