Daniela Sirois Ennis. Photo submitted

OPINION: No time to wait for climate action

A column by Daniela Sirois Ennis, 16, and Alyssa Taburiaux, 19, of Nelson

By Daniela Sirois Ennis and Alyssa Taburiaux

Greta Thunberg is a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist who has addressed both the United Nations and World Economic Forum. In August 2018 she sat outside the Swedish parliament building with a sign that said: “Strike for the Climate.” Her actions have blossomed into an international movement. Students all over the world are leaving school as part of the Fridays For the Future movement.

In Nelson we are having our very first school climate strike on Monday, March 4. Students will meet outside Nelson City Hall between noon and 3 p.m. We chose this date as it is the same day that Nelson city council plans to debate the urgency of the climate crisis. The strike follows a full-day workshop on climate change for council and city staff on March 1.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that came out last October was clear and terrifying. Scientists are telling us that we have less than 12 years to cut our emissions in half if we want to avoid catastrophic change. Everyone will be impacted, especially our generation.

Despite the clear warnings, governments continue to refuse to take serious action, and our future is being jeopardized. What is the point of studying for the future when we don’t know if there is a future? It feels like the government is not listening or does not care. We, as youth, have to make our voices heard.

We are asking students to bring signs and encourage as many youth as possible to come out and join us for a peaceful and powerful gathering. The larger our numbers, the bigger the impact we will have.

We want elected leaders to understand this issue from our perspective. We are hoping to meet with Nelson Mayor John Dooley, as well as staff of MP Wayne Stetski and MLA Michelle Mungall.

We want our local city council to take bigger steps towards goals that will reduce our impacts on the climate and our lives, as soon as possible. Youth are not looking to see plans that will be accomplished by 2030 or 2050. By the year 2050, we will be only be in our late 40s. We cannot afford to wait this long to solve such consequential problems, which are growing larger by the day.

The climate issue will not go away by ignoring it and pushing back deadlines. We have all heard the statistics and seen the numbers. Last summer’s wildfire smoke made climate impacts real at home. We are concerned about our future.

We also know that we have solutions to the climate crisis. This leaves no excuses as to why serious action is not happening now, when it truly matters most. We youth want to see bold plans that can begin to take action immediately.

Join our strike for climate on March 4. We no longer have time to wait.

As Greta said so clearly at the World Economic Forum in January, “I don’t want your hope. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is.”

Daniela Sirois Ennis, 16, and Alyssa Taburiaux, 19, are helping to organize the first local school strike for climate.

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Alyssa Taburiaux. Photo submitted

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