Fighting climate change shouldn’t be up to the kids: David Suzuki

A teen eco-activist wants his family, friends and neighbours to speak up about climate change.

Chateur, a grade 9 student at Leaside High School, has launched a campaign urging his friends, family and the community to e-mail, write or call their local MPs and tell them that they expect something to take the place of the Climate Change Accountability Act.

“The Bill says you need to cut emissions from the 1990 levels by 2020 and I think that if we were able to do that it would show Canada in the world as a country that really cares about the issues facing our people,” he said.

The teen’s efforts got the attention of well-known environmentalist David Suzuki. He says while 14-year-old Chateur’s quest is honorable, it shouldn’t be up to kids to keep the earth in shape for their own future.

“How sad that a country is so badly run that a child has to plead for action on something that is indisputably happening,” Suzuki said. “That the leading scientists are urging a response to, that aboriginal people are telling us is happening. What kind of country would have a government that ignores all that and thus it takes a child to plead for something to be done to protect his future. Very sad.”

Suzuki warns Chateur that in the current political climate, change might not happen for quite a while.

“All I have is hope,” Suzuki said. “Based on the track record of this government, it is very bleak.”

Members of parliament are too focused on winning votes now to plan for the future, Suzuki said.

“Part of the problem is that for the past four years, members of parliament have been totally focused on the coming election so they can try to get a maximum number of votes,” he said. “Well, children don’t vote and certainly future generations don’t even exist yet, so what politician is going to run on a promise of massive expenditures in the hopes that the threat of climate change will be reduced for future generations?”

Suzuki says the government needs to change the way it operates to get more people involved. He thinks it’s very telling of the state of the Canadian Government that Chateur is forced to fight the hard battle for something that seems very common sense to him.

“When almost half of all Canadians don’t bother to vote, we no longer have a democracy,” he said.  “Even those of us who vote conscientiously as I have, since I turned 21, with a system of first past the post, we do not get representative government.  We need a system of proportional representation.  The current action by the non-elected Senate shows we should dump it or modify it.”

But Chateur wants to ensure that he and his peers fight for the environment and political change. The teen is a part of his school’s eco club and student council. He volunteers for local political candidates and he is a member of the NDP party. He wants to be the first NDP prime minister.

“Canada is not strong when it comes to environmental issues,” he said. “I think that Canada needs to have a bigger role when it comes to the environment.”