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Citizens strike for climate

Thousands expected to rally at the Alberta Legislature on Friday, Sept. 27
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CLIMATE RALLY – Thousands of Edmonton-area residents will rally at the Alberta Legislature this Friday as part of a Global Climate Strike to demand leaders address the global climate crisis. This photo is from one of the many similar rallies that have been held at the Legislature throughout the last year.

St. Albert residents will rally with thousands across the region this Friday as part of a global climate strike.

Some 2,500 Edmonton-area residents are expected to rally at the Alberta Legislature on Sept. 27 as part of the Global Climate Strike – an international youth-led movement that aims to pressure leaders to act on global heating.

The rally is the conclusion of a week’s worth of similar demonstrations in Edmonton and worldwide meant to coincide with the UN Climate Action Summit on Sept. 23.

The (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report states that we have a 12-year window to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly, otherwise we will be locked into an irreversible path of catastrophe,” said Olivier Adkin-Kaya, Alberta spokesperson for Climate Strike Canada (one of the organizers of this week’s events).

“Our government is not acting in accordance with science,” he said, and current federal plans are not enough to limit warming to less than 2 C (the point beyond which the worst impacts of global heating are predicted to occur).

This week of action is meant to call on governments to take the climate crisis seriously and get greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero levels by 2050, which climate scientists say is required to prevent more than 1.5 C of warming, Adkin-Kaya said.

The Edmonton Climate Strike started Sept. 20 with a “die-in” protest near the Alberta Legislature and continues this weekend with rallies at Edmonton City Hall and the Legislature, Adkin-Kaya said. The main event will be a general strike by unions, businesses, high school and university students around noon Sept. 27 by some 2,500 people, followed by a rally at the Legislature at 1 p.m.

“We are expecting this to be the largest climate strike we’ve had in Edmonton for a long time,” Adkin-Kaya said, with hundreds of thousands expected to march in similar events across Canada.

While the climate strike movement usually focuses on students, this week’s activities call on adults to take part as well, Adkin-Kaya said.

“This is something that affects everyone, so this should be a priority for everyone.”

St. Albert carpenters Michael Tayles and Tim Boetzkes said they plan to be at the big protest on the 27th. Both have been taking part in similar climate change protests throughout the last year.

“We have families and kids, and we want to create a future for them,” Boetzkes said.

St. Albert resident and University of Alberta law professor Cameron Jefferies said he and many other staffers and students plan to take part in the rally as well.

“It’s for sure the most pressing environmental issue of our time,” he said of global heating, and we’re already experiencing its effects. Leaders must move beyond rhetoric and bring in actual plans to address it.

A climate emergency

Global heating is expected to make droughts, floods, forest fires and extreme weather more likely throughout Canada with direct consequences for cities. The Climate Resilient Edmonton report predicts global heating would impose some $8 billion a year in health, financial and environmental costs on the Edmonton region by 2050.

Tayles and Boetzkes said the IPCC’s recent report on the effects of 1.5 C of warming makes it clear global heating is happening and that we have very little time to address it.

“As (youth climate activist) Greta Thunberg put it, our house really is on fire,” Tayles said.

The IPCC has found global carbon emissions must fall by about half by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 if the world is to prevent more than 1.5 C of warming, and that the less warming we have, the less costly it will be.

Addressing global heating will mean significant change to our lives, and every decision-maker has a role to play, said St. Albert MLA Marie Renaud, who planned to attend the Sept. 27 event.

“What motivates people in decision-making roles and in power is numbers,” she said, and she had seen many governments change course in the face of mass movements.

“If there’s anything that will get this government’s attention, it’s people, and lots of people.”

Tayles said he and Boetzkes had gone vegetarian to reduce their carbon footprint and that he also planned to get an electric car. He encouraged residents to take part in this week’s events and to read up on the IPCC’s climate reports.

“We are one group called human beings, and we’re all in this together.”

See for a list of this week’s events.

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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