Some Abbotsford middle school students say the city’s efforts to reduce its environmental footprint is “a start” after getting a chance to grill the mayor on the matter during a protest outside city hall.
About 30 people in total showed up to the climate strike – one of hundreds of such rallies planned for Friday afternoon as part of a continuing global youth climate movement inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg – half of whom were school-aged youths.
Around the world, youths have been walking out on classes on Fridays, with larger climate strikes in March and on Friday, May 24, including a small contingent of Abbotsford youths.
The rallies are a call to action for governments at all levels in all countries to take urgent action on climate change, with the call growing stronger in the wake of an International Panel on Climate Change report last October outlining the dire situation, giving the world until 2030 to slash greenhouse gas emissions in half.
In Abbotsford, the call made it to the top office locally, with Mayor Henry Braun stopping by to meet the youths who left school for the rally.
“He said a five year plan, they’re going to eventually have all the light bulbs changed [to energy-efficient LED] in the city,” said Lauren, a local middle school student who got to speak to the mayor at the rally.
A group of students at the rally said the actions they heard from the mayor were “a start.”
“We definitely have a long way to go, but you’ve got to start somewhere,” said Bronson, another student.
The students said they wanted to see more electric cars on the streets and called out governments for putting off solutions to climate change.
“And people building buildings with concrete, because concrete is really polluting, lots of CO2,” Lauren said.
She also noted that while there are many streets with bike lanes, “I have noticed until recently that a lot of roads don’t, and on the way over here I’m on the sidewalk.”
Angie, another student at the rally, suggested changing the language to “climate emergency” to properly convey the urgency in the actions required to address the changing climate.
Braun said he was encouraged to see the youths being active in demanding action on climate change.
“I told these two young ladies here that your generation is thinking about the environment much more. When I was their age, I didn’t think about it because it wasn’t an issue,” Braun said.
He added that the city is also looking at changing its transit over to natural gas, rather than gasoline fuel, a cleaner form of energy, but action from governments require money.
“So we can’t maybe do it as fast as we would like.”
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Dustin Godfrey | Reporter
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