Students, members of environmental groups and Green Party supporters accounted for nearly 200 people who attended the Global Climate Strike in Nanaimo on Friday. CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

Nanaimo students make statement at Global Climate Strike

Environmental groups, students and Green Party faithful turn up heat against global warming

A rally against global warming drew a crowd of about 200 the front lawn of Nanaimo city hall Friday.

The event, which got underway by about 12:30 p.m. and lasted more than one hour, was part of a Global Climate Strike, observed in 40 cities across Canada and more than 500 cities in 79 countries around the world. The strike was inspired by 16-year-old Greta Emman Thunberg, of Sweden, who skipped school on Fridays to protest against climate change and organized the first high school climate strike in front of the Swedish parliament building in 2018 that in turn sparked similar strikes in other European countries.

“I think that these protests help bring awareness to this issue and we’re obviously being ignored in parliament and in politics, so direct action is a really good way of just bringing it into the public eye,” said Lia Sommer, who co-organized the event with James Chumsa, a fellow Vancouver Island University student, and Chelsea L’Herault.

The urgency for change is being driven by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released in October, that stated the world had 12 years remaining to act to avoid devastating effects of global warming.

Switching from fossil fuels for energy, Sommer said, is just one “of many, many issues with our planet right now and the way things are.”

Chumsa said politicians need to start listening to climate scientists and indigenous leaders.

“This is an issue that’s going to affect everyone,” Chumsa said in his address to the crowd. “Whether you’re a liberal or a conservative or a socialist, climate change will affect all of us.”

RELATED: Students worldwide skip class to demand action on climate

RELATED: School students to strike with walkout starting at the legislature

Paul Manly, federal Green Party candidate for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, was among the speakers at the event and delivered a message that the Green Party will act against global warming and spoke out against further oil and natural gas industry and pipeline development.

“We have got the biggest tax giveaway that this province has ever seen for this $40-billion LNG plant up north,” Manly said. “It mean they’re going to frack our environment. They’re going to frack our future to fill those pipes and that is wrong. I hear them talk about climate action, but then they do this. That’s called action delay. They’re talking out of both sides of their faces.”

Manly told the crowd to pull out their cellphones the next time a politician tells them that they’re going to do something about climate change, ask questions and get their answers on record.
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