While municipalities – Surrey being the most recent – consider banning plastic straws as part of creating a healthier climate, two Semiahmoo Peninsula students are organizing a strike to pressure government to focus attention on big industry, rather than consumers.
Organized by Semiahmoo Secondary Grade 11 student Allie Ho and Earl Marriott Secondary Grade 11 student Sam Albert, South Surrey youth participating in the strike will leave school today (May 3) and meet with thousands of students at the Vancouver Art Gallery to demand climate action from senior levels of government.
“Lots of cities think that if we cut back on straws, disposable plastics and other minor problems, the big problems will be solved,” Ho told Peace Arch News.
“So what if we stop using straws? It won’t make much of a difference when oil companies are digging holes the size of skyscrapers and when loggers cut down 80 per cent of our forests.
“Companies don’t take any blame for the detriments that they cause our society.
“We must pressure the government into changing the laws and policies that regard the big emitters, not at the consumer level.”
Citing a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which says that the planet only has until 2030 to stem catastrophic climate change, Albert said governments are not treating climate change as the crisis it is.
“If large corporations and our very own government won’t (heed) the call of the world’s top scientists, then who will they listen to?” Albert wrote to PAN.
“I firmly believe that youth can have the biggest impact towards people in power as we are the future of this nation and planet.
“If we are walking out of schools because we feel there is no point studying for our future, what is this saying about our government’s work in protecting our health, safety, and freedom?”
“It’s time to hold our largest polluters accountable for their impact on our planet and let them know that profit from destruction is not acceptable.”
The idea of the “climate strike” was started last year by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old girl from Sweden.
Thunberg’s effort of skipping school every Friday in protest sparked an international campaign, and she’s since been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
The most recent global strike, on March 15, brought more than 2,000 youth out to the Vancouver Art Gallery, and estimates suggest more than a million students protested on that same day in 123 countries.
Ho said students wishing to participate in the strike can me at the South Surrey Park and Ride at 10 a.m., May 3.
For more, visit www.fridaysforfuture.org