Global Climate Strike: five reasons why you need to go

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Thousands are expected to attend the Global Climate Strike in Toronto Friday (September 27) which will meet at 11 am at Queen’s Park. The event coincides with 2019 Climate Action Summit taking place at the United Nations this week.

Speaking to the assembly in New York, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teen behind the global strike movement, had some choice words for the adult attendees. “You’ve stolen my childhood with your empty words.”

Toronto’s event is organized by Friday’s for Future Toronto, a coalition group that is inviting adults to join youth strikers, activists, and union members taking to the streets.

The Toronto District School Board has released a statement stating that while they do not officially sanction the event, they will not penalize students who choose to participate. Here are five good reasons to join the action.

To turn your climate grief into climate hope

Getting bombarded by stories of a climate in chaos, be it sea levels rising, extreme weather events, the Amazon on fire, mass extinctions, and droughts, can take a toll on your mental health and hope for the future. 

The antidote to the grief and fear is simply to get together and realize there is strength in numbers.

By joining thousands on Friday you are sending a message to the government you will fight and that you are not alone.

Far from being alone you will be in the beautiful company of engaged passionate people who are collectively working for solutions. 

For the brilliance of the protest signs

The climate crisis is a most serious problem facing our existence, but that doesn’t mean sending a message can’t be fun. Artwork and signs that have emerged from the start of the global strike week have gone viral because they are hilarious, heartfelt, creative, and galvanizing.

Many fine rewards come along with taking action for the earth.

To become a superhero

Superheroes are in the business of saving the world and that is exactly what the participants in the Global Climate Strike are. 

The goal of the UN Climate Summit is to rapidly accelerate action to implement the Paris Agreement of 2015 in which countries pledged to keep the global temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsius and work to keep it below 1.5 degrees celsius. 

But since 2015, greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise and a new report from the World Meteorological Organization claims that current plans are so substandard that they predict a global rise as high as 3.4 Celsius by 2100.

The assessment concluded that commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions need to be increased fivefold to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris agreement.  

Addressing world leaders at the UN, Thunberg warned “you are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. We will not let you get away with this. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.”

To stop governments playing the climate delay game

The climate justice movement has widened its focus from confronting climate deniers to taking climate delayers to task.

Climate delayers are politicians who speak about climate change but in practice work to delay the actual changes needed to address the crisis.

Mayor John Tory has announced a plan declare a climate emergency for the City of Toronto. 

But in practice the Mayor has committed to rebuilding a raised expressway for cars, stalled the implementation of an expanded bicycle network, and has vociferously defended the operation of a tar-sands bitumen pipeline running through the north end of the city.

In Ontario, the Ford government’s plan to balance “a healthy environment and healthy economy” has included placing stickers on gas pumps warning against the costs of a federal carbon tax.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stated his government will “finance the future green economy” by developing tar-sands pipelines. In June, the federal government declared a climate emergency and then immediately announced cabinet approval for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

To create a better world

If this isn’t the beginning of the end it is the beginning of something greater offering possibilities we can only imagine.

The time is now to fight for the world we want to live in, a world where our individual and collective dreams converge into a healthy clean livable earth and future for everyone to enjoy.

Thunberg started this movement by skipping school in August 2018 by herself. She held up a sign calling for stronger climate action outside the Swedish Parliament.

If she can inspire a renewed global climate justice movement in a year’s time, there’s no telling what progress we can make if we all are inspired commit to simple and effective acts of protest that put the brakes on the destruction of our home, the Earth. 

See you on the streets. 

@nowtoronto