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Activist Greta Thunberg says adults must protect kids from climate change

Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg attends a student-led climate change march and rally in Vancouver, Friday, Oct. 25, 2019.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
October 26, 2019 - 9:30 AM

VANCOUVER - Swedish activist Greta Thunberg says those in power need to realize what they are doing to future generations through climate change because if adults really loved children, they would ensure they have a safe future.

"But they are not doing that," she told thousands of people attending a climate rally in Vancouver on Friday. "As it is now, it feels like they are doing the exact opposite, that they are desperately trying to change the subject every time the climate crisis comes up.

"They are trying so hard to delay the actions required to prevent this crisis from getting worse because they are so afraid of being unpopular and to make uncomfortable decisions. It is like they are selling our future for their comfort and profit."

The 16-year-old expressed her amazement at the size of the crowd. Vancouver police estimated as many as 12,000 people attended.

"Together, we will make a change," she said to cheers and applause.

The crowds included many children and teenagers with their parents, crammed into a public square outside the Vancouver Art Gallery in the city's downtown. They carried signs saying, "Greta thinks you can do betta," and "You'll die of old age, we'll die of climate change."

Thunberg said she was honoured to stand next to Severn Cullis-Suzuki. The daughter of environmentalist David Suzuki famously pleaded with world leaders to avert climate disaster as a 12-year-old at the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992.

"Severn told the world everything the world needed to know 27 years ago. And the science told our world leaders everything they needed to know 27 years ago," Thunberg said.

Global carbon dioxide emissions have increased by 65 per cent since 1992 and half of all emissions since 1751 have been emitted since 1992, she said.

"If world leaders would have started to take action back then when this crisis became known to them, then imagine the suffering that could have been prevented," she added.

"It is the year 2019 and people are still acting as if there was no tomorrow."

Thunberg said she stands in solidarity with 15 young people who announced a lawsuit on Friday against the Canadian government over climate change.

She also warned that today's youth will hold those responsible for climate change accountable and force world leaders to act.

"We are not just some kids skipping school or some adults not going to work. We are a wave of change and together we are unstoppable," she said.

"If you feel threatened by that, then I have some very bad news for you. This is the beginning. We will continue. Because change is coming whether you like it or not."

Thunberg passed the microphone to Cullis-Suzuki, who said it was an amazing moment to see youth gathered alongside adults who have been trying to make a difference for decades.

"This time we cannot afford to wait another 27 years," Cullis-Suzuki said.

The event was billed as a "post-election climate strike." Sustainabiliteens, a youth-led group, has been staging Fridays for Future rallies inspired by climate protests Thunberg launched last year outside the Swedish Parliament.

Organizers said they want Justin Trudeau's government to create a "Green New Deal" that puts science-aligned emission reduction targets into legislation.

Several Indigenous advocates spoke to the crowd. Cedar George-Parker of the Tulalip and Tsleil-Waututh Nations said the $4.5 billion the federal government used to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline would have been better spent on providing university education to young Canadians.

He said the pipeline expansion threatens the already endangered southern resident killer whales as well as, in the event of a spill, human health.

"That's why we say no means no. That's why we come out here and stand up."

Kanahus Manuel of the Tiny House Warriors, a group of Indigenous demonstrators who have built tiny homes in the path of the pipeline in B.C.'s Interior, told the young people in the crowd that the future is in their hands.

"You take that courage. You keep on fighting, because the old people are going to be gone," she said.

"Oil and gas, that Old Boys club, is going to be gone, out the door."

Ella Scott, 16, was among the teenagers who attended the rally. She said it was important to show the Trudeau government that young people care about the climate.

"We need to fix it now or else it's going to be too late," she said.

"They're worrying about money and the economics of Canada but we also need to worry about our future and climate. ... If we destroy the climate it doesn't matter how much money we have, because we can't buy our way out of global warming."

Scott also praised Thunberg for leading the climate movement despite some criticizing her.

"People say it shouldn't be the youth of Canada and it shouldn't be a teenage girl representing the climate," she said. "But I think someone had to do it."

This report was first published by The Canadian Press on Oct. 25, 2019.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2019
The Canadian Press

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