High school students skip school for rally at Vancouver City Hall

Darrian Matassa-Fung / January 16, 2019

Rebecca Hamilton is a student at Lord Byng Secondary and is one of the organizers of the event.
(Emily Vance / BCIT News)

High school students from across Metro Vancouver are rallying today outside of Vancouver City Hall to get the message out about climate change.

Members of the group called “Sustainabiliteens” are coming from high schools across the Lower Mainland in support of City Councillor Christine Boyle’s motion to declare climate change an emergency in Vancouver.

“The councillors are voting on our future, they may not feel the impacts of climate catastrophe as severely as our generation will and we want to remind them of the young people in their life –  Malka Martz-Oberlander, student.

The motion is labeled “Ramping Up Vancouver’s Climate Action in Response to the Climate Emergency“. It outlines problems that may arise in Vancouver due to climate change in the future.

The motion calls for “Council recognize the breakdown of the stable climate and sea level under which human civilization developed constitutes an emergency for the City of Vancouver”.

The motion submitted by Councillor Boyle suggests these resolutions for Vancouver’s alleged climate problems:

A. That Council recognize the breakdown of the stable climate and sea level under which human civilization developed constitutes an emergency for the City of Vancouver; FURTHER THAT Council direct staff to report back within 90 days on opportunities to:

  1. increase ambition and/or accelerate timelines for existing actions under the Renewable City Action Plan and Climate Adaptation Strategy;
  2. add new actions to help the City achieve its targets;
  3. add new actions that would help reduce GHG emissions beyond the scope of the City’s current climate targets.

    4. Incorporate into the City’s climate targets and actions the need to achieve net zero carbon emissions before 2050 and net negative carbon emissions in the second half of the century.

B. ThatCouncil direct staff to establish a remaining carbon budget for corporate and community emissions commensurate with limiting warming to 1.5oC and report annually on the expenditure of the City of Vancouver’s remaining carbon budget;

C. That Council direct staff to establish a “Climate and Equity” working group to provide guidance and support for the City’s efforts to transition off of fossil fuels in ways the priorities those most vulnerable to climate impacts and most in need of support in transitioning to renewable energy.

The council will begin to hear speakers on the motion, entitled “ramping up vancouver’s climate action in response to the climate emergency”. (BCIT News / Emily Vance)

“Climate change is terrifying, as a young person it’s always a dark cloud on the horizon on our future.”-  Malka Martz-Oberlander, student

“We don’t have a choice. We need to take climate action right now. We are in a climate emergency. We can’t just keep delaying and we want to emphasize that urgency.” – Rebecca Hamilton, student

Speakers supporting the motion will be heard at Vancouver City Hall. Boyle says she is advocating for a science-based, justice-rooted response to climate change. Students will be staying throughout the day to show their support. The event is called “school strike for climate change,” and encourages students to come out and wear red. The council will begin to hear speakers on the motion at 3 pm in Vancouver City Hall.