Each time governments and industry leaders break another climate promise or kick a climate target down the road, they’re essentially saying, ‘Suck it up, kid. Our profits, power, and comfort matter more than your future wellbeing.’ ▶ Watch how brilliantly it works.
Last Friday’s global student-led climate strike to #UpRootTheSystem was a reminder that young people know what’s at stake. They’re fighting back, demanding real action now.
As one young climate activist pointed out, “Lip service doesn’t save lives.”
From coast to coast—and around the globe—young people spoke powerfully at their local climate strikes. One of them was a 15-year-old student named Jane Elliott. Speaking to the hundreds of supporters who came out in Halifax, she shared the alarming takeaways from the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report. Jane then went on to say this:
Freaked out? Me too, it’s a lot to take in all at once. In fact, you might be thinking it’s too much to tackle. There’s no way we can fix it, right? Didn’t I just say the impacts are already hitting? But let’s pause for a second. It’s a widely held belief that the reason we haven’t acted against the climate crisis is because it’s more profitable to stay complacent. But more profitable for who? Because it’s not more profitable for the farmers who can’t grow enough crops to make a living anymore. And it’s not more profitable to the coastal communities that are getting demolished by hurricanes. It’s more profitable for oil and gas companies. So before you lose all hope, remember who that serves.
The climate is changing, and it will continue to do so. But if we can put the lives of the many over the profit of the few in these next few years, we can do critical damage control. 1.5 degrees of warming is not an impossible target, despite what fossil fuel interests may want you to believe. And every degree of warming matters. We just can’t settle for the vague and underwhelming targets our leaders are setting right now.
This isn’t an all or nothing, and the fight isn’t over until there’re no lives left to protect.
So, please, I know firsthand how easy it is to want to give up on us, to blame it on human nature. It’s a completely reasonable reaction, and, for most of us, it’s inevitable. I’m not asking you to bury that feeling, but I am asking us to support each other through that feeling, and remind ourselves that it serves only the profit margins of a few to think that way.
Let’s replace the fear of the future with hope for the solutions, and when that feels unrealistic, fight for our future out of pure spite. Keep demanding accountability and action from our leaders, and keep demanding justice for our most affected. We deserve it.
To Jane and other young leaders—we hear you and we’re with you, every step of the way.
P.S. You can support the work we do to champion grassroots-led environmental action by making a donation. If you’re not already a member of Sierra Club Canada, consider becoming one and get involved with your local chapter. You can sign up here.