As hundreds of young people shouted, chanted and sang songs outside Confederation Building Friday, their message was as clear as the skies in St. John’s — the time for action on climate change is now.
The group — comprised mostly of high school and Memorial University (MUN) students — gathered to voice their concerns for the planet and push governments to make the needed changes to help what they say is an international climate change crisis.
“Our planet is dying,” first-year MUN student Abby Cole told The Telegram during the rally. “Animals are going extinct, the (polar) ice is melting and our government is not taking the proper action against it. We need more action, more policy change.”
The protest was part of a global movement #FridaysForFuture, which was founded by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg of Sweden. More than 1,300 protests were held Friday in various cities and towns around the world.
The St. John’s protest began near the tower clock on the MUN campus. The group, many carrying signs and wearing T-shirts with climate change slogans, then marched to the front steps of Confederation Building, and listened to speakers, including one of the organizers, Allison Jeon.
Another speaker, Tara Dunphy, invited everyone to simultaneously send emails to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“Let him know that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians care about these issues and we are here today to hold them accountable for their actions,” said Dunphy, who shouted out the email address to the crowd. “So, take out your phones and send him an email.”
Speakers at the rally pointed out they want politicians to adhere to the commitments they made to the Paris Agreement — adopted in 2015 at the end of the United Nations Climate Change Conference — an international pact on climate change focusing on intensifying actions and investments needed for a sustainable low-carbon future, with a projected goal to be achieved by 2020.
Protesters say enough is not being done and they’re pushing the government to pick things up.
“The Liberal government is building pipelines and that’s not OK,” said Saskia Schulz-Norvell, also a first-year MUN student. “It’s not OK to steal Indigenous land that are going to wreck the environment.”
A message on one of the many signs read, “If you don’t act like adults, we will.”
Mount Pearl Senior High School students Hunter Fleming, Ireland Power Halleran, Katie Ash and Mackenzie Oates said it was important for them to be at the rally.
“It’s our future that we have to protect,” Fleming said. “Older generations made this problem and it’s our responsibility to fix it.”
Halleran added, “It’s our planet, too.”