On September 8, over 250 000 people participated in 900 Rise for Climate actions in 95 countries on 7 continents. I gave a speech at my local Vancouver rally, representing the perspectives of youth. What follows is the text of that speech, which can also be viewed on Youtube here.
When you were 16 and had your whole life ahead of you, what were your dreams for your future? I I am 16, and there is so much that I am excited for, but growing up in the 21st century means that I have always known about climate change, always seen it as a dark cloud sitting over the horizon.
I love being in nature. I love feeling the kiss of the breeze on my skin, love the strength I feel standing under a towering douglas fir. But one day last summer, I went for a hike while wildfires raged across the province. The breeze carried smoke, which I knew was the ashes of trees that other people had found peace standing beneath. My friend and I were talking of the hiking trips that we dreamed of doing in our future, when we were older and finally independent. But looking around through the ashy air, it occurred to me that the forest we were in may burn down before we were old enough to carry out our plans. What if later generations never had the opportunity to walk under trees like these? Thinking about this, I felt scared and frustrated and confused, and I decided I needed to take action to fight for my future.
Because nobody has dreams of creating a climate catastrophe. Instead, this crisis is the consequence of inertia, of governments and industries refusing to change the way they do things today, with out concern as to what that means for tomorrow.
What they don’t understand is that we don’t have a choice about whether change is going to come. We have a choice about what change it will be, and how soon. By continuing to burn fossil fuels, continuing to build pipelines, continuing to pretend that everything is still the same, that change will be felt in the future in the form of drought, rising sea levels, and extreme storms. Or, we can make positive change now by closing the door on fossil fuels, allowing infinitly more doors to be opened by my generation and those that follow.
We are at a crossroads, and all of us know which path we want to go down. We say yes to renewable energy. We say yes to sustainable jobs. We say yes to a swift and just transition.
In a week, our elected representatives are returning to the House of Commons after summer recess in their ridings. We are here today to remind them that this year, we demand real climate leadership.
As a teenager, it is my future that is going to be impacted by the repercussions of the decisions made in Parliament - not the future of the people making those decisions. MPs, I urge you to think of your children and grandchildren. Thirty years from now, will you be able to look them in the eye and say that you did everything you could to secure them a safe future?
I know that all of you here today will be able to say that. Looking out at this incredible crowd, I know that there are so many people who do care, and even if our government won’t stand up for our future, I know that you all will. I want you to smile and thank the person standing next to you for rising for climate today.
Because it’s not just about the future. I know we are trying to send a serious message, but did you have fun during that march? We are here because we all have dreams. We are excited about what a post-carbon world will look like, and we commit to building it today.
And we’re not alone. We are a part of a global movement for change. Today, in over 700 communities across the world, hundreds of thousands of people are rising for climate, demanding that their leaders finally commit to building a fossil fuel world that puts people and justice before profits.
You all inspire me with the action you are already taking. If you are looking for a way to get more involved in this movement, please check out all of the amazing work being done by different groups at the tables over there. For example, I’m involved in an organization called Force of Nature. We are launching a campaign to support climate champions for the municipal election occurring this October 20. We need to make climate action a priority, and what better time to do that than during an election? As a teenager, I can’t vote. I have no control over who makes the decisions. But I know I can count on you to vote, and to vote with your children in mind.
We’re coming together to create something we believe in, and that is a powerful feeling, and that is how I know we will win. Today, WE are rising for climate and from here we are going to soar.
Looking for more ways to get involved where you live? Check out riseforclimate.org, 350.org, this article, or comment below and I'd love to provide more specific suggestions! I will also soon be writing a post about how to take action.