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UPDATED: Planned climate crisis strike in St. John's gains momentum

Friday's climate crisis march will begin at the clock tower adjacent to the Memorial University Student Centre.
Friday's climate crisis march will begin at the clock tower adjacent to the Memorial University Student Centre. - Joe Gibbons

Climate crisis pledge to be signed today at Memorial, leading into Friday’s planned March

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

Like an oncoming storm, there’s a growing energy leading up to Friday’s planned strike for climate crisis action in St. John’s and elsewhere around the province, country and world.

Fridays For Future events — part of the Global Climate Strike — are inspired by the movement of Greta Thunberg’s School Strike for Climate. Thunberg’s powerful words and actions are causing everyone from students to world leaders to stop and pay attention of the climate crisis.

According to a news release by local organizers, students across the planet are asking adults to come help them fight for their futures, as everyone will be affected by the climate crisis, and immediate action is needed. 

Greta Thunberg. - Reuters Inc.
Greta Thunberg. - Reuters Inc.

“Thunberg has been an environmental sensation for just over a year now, and people across the world will join her yet again as she strikes for the climate,” the news release states.

“Thunberg’s actions and speeches have had a huge effect on the global stage in the past year, and she has had incredible success, inspiring others to fight, getting donations and addressing world leaders. Her courage has inspired Newfoundlanders and Labradorians of all ages to do their part in protecting their home.”

Social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook have been awash with people commenting that they plan to attend the strike in St. John’s.

It will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday in the form of a march starting at the Memorial University clock tower and proceeding to the Confederation Building, where there will be speeches, activities and performances.

The crowd is expected to be huge.

In recognition of the impact the movement is having on students, Memorial University, colleges and high schools have relaxed rules to allow students — and in some cases staff — to attend the march.

A number of businesses have also indicated their intention to allow staff time off to attend the march, in some cases closing shop for the event.

In support of the event, Metrobus is offering free rides between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Friday.

The Newfoundland and Labrador English School District issued a note to school principals in the province that although not district-sponsored events, the district does support the intention of the climate crisis strike efforts.

“Please advise your students and parent community that students who are planning to participate in climate change events on Friday must ensure their parents/guardians provide the school with signed permission to be absent from class,” the note reads. “Students with appropriate permissions will be marked with an excused absence. Schools will remain open and classes held as usual.” 

Taking action

A wide swathe of society is being called on to help eradicate the climate crisis.

One of those groups, Climate Action Coalition, is calling on Memorial University and a host of other groups to participate in a pledge signing today to recognize and help to stop the climate crisis the world faces.

“I am a privileged person and it sucks I will be fighting my entire life,’’ Simon Hofman, a MUN student and leader in the Climate Action Coalition, said Wednesday afternoon.

“I came here to become a marine engineer. Instead, I have to devote energy to this cause, and we need to make certain sacrifices.’’ 

Hofman said he worries about a host of environmental problems, such as rising sea levels, higher temperatures and melting ice caps. With those issues, the fears of hundreds of millions of people being displaced is real and it is now, he said.

High schools from the St. John's region gathered en masse to join an international movement against climate change in 2018. They'll do so again this Friday. - SaltWire File Photo
High schools from the St. John's region gathered en masse to join an international movement against climate change in 2018. They'll do so again this Friday. - SaltWire File Photo

He said countries around the world are struggling to deal with refugees and finding space for them. Do they have the capacity to deal with what is coming next — hundreds of millions of people?

“How do we defeat this huge monster?” he asked.

“Canada is lagging behind as a seafaring and shipbuilding nation compared to the Scandinavian countries and Europe. We are not buying or building ships with new technology.”

He said a holistic approach is needed to ensure MUN and the Marine Institute become a leader in Canada and push for the technologies that are working in other places to achieve the goals of the Paris Accord and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition,Hofman said this will have a huge impact on the upcoming federal election, as the governing party and its competitors all lag behind in what needs to be accomplished.

“I still don’t believe the parties in power, or others, are in line with the issues. Even the policies of the Greens and the NDP are not enough,’’ he said.

“We have to be bold with our vision and structure our economy and structure our resources for a green transition.”

A coalition of students, faculty, staff and community members have joined together to form the MUN Climate Action Coalition. As part of Climate Action Week (Sept. 20-27), the coalition is calling on Memorial to sign the MUN Crisis Pledge: Fighting Climate Change Through Transformation.

This will serve as a precursor to a march on Friday organized by Friday’s For Futures.

The signing will take place at The Loft in the university centre at 3 p.m. in Room UC 3013.

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