Hundreds of Toronto students gathered at Queen’s Park Friday calling for politicians to fight harder against climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Watch this video of the protest in action:
The protest was part of the Fridays For Future movement. The movement called on students around the world to walk out of school on Friday to bring attention to the issue of climate change. Over one million students in over 100 countries, including the United States, Australia, Germany and England, joined similar marches.
Sara Escallon-Sotomayor, a local high school student and activist attending the rally, introduced speakers and gave a speech of her own.
“Young people are rising up to take action against these issues, whether our elected officials acknowledge it or not,” Escallon-Sotomayor said. “And once we can vote, maybe representatives that actually have … not just our interests in mind, but the interests of every one and every single thing on this planet, will be put in power.”
Sara Escallon-Sotomayor, a local high school student and activist attending the Queen’s Park rally, introduced speakers and gave a speech of her own.
“Young people are rising up to take action against these issues, whether our elected officials acknowledge it or not,” Escallon-Sotomayor said. “And once we can vote, maybe representatives that actually have… not just our interests in mind, but the interests of every one and every single thing on this planet, will be put in power.”
Students gave speeches, yelled pro-environment chants and listened to environmental-themed songs.
Julie Dzerowicz, the Liberal MP for Davenport, also spoke at the event. She was drowned out at times by chants of protesters angry about the Liberal government’s decision to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline.
The Fridays For Future movement was started by Greta Thunberg, a high school student in Sweden. In August 2018, Thunberg stopped going to school, and instead protested outside of Swedish Parliament until the Sept. 9 Swedish general election.
She demanded that her country’s politicians stop ignoring the threat of climate change and take steps to lower greenhouse gas output.
After the election, Thunberg began protesting nearly every Friday. Those protests ended up going viral.
Over 1,5 million students on school strike 15/3. We proved that it does matter what you do and that no one is too small to make a difference.
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) March 17, 2019
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a body of the United Nations, released a special report in 2018 that recommends global warming be kept at 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels. The IPCC warns that reaching 2 C of warming above pre-industrial levels increases the risk of extreme heat in most inhabited regions, species loss, food insecurity, droughts in some regions, heavy precipitation in several regions and a host of other problems.
According to the IPCC, “Global warming is likely to reach 1.5 C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate.”
Dan Weaver, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Toronto, doesn’t think we can meet the 1.5 C target.
“In order to get there we need to make very substantial changes, economically, socially, politically, and I don’t know that we’re really ready to do that,” Weaver said at a climate change conference held at U of T on March 7.
“We are still going to be be here, and that’s kind of the point… we are going to live through it and have to deal with it, and we don’t have to live through that future. We have a choice,” he said.
“We have solutions; we can do this, but will we? Because if we don’t, we’re going to have to live through all this pain.”