Vancouver climate strike organizer Rebecca Hamilton says students are coming together to fight for their lives

The city's fourth environmental walkout from classes since December was part of a national day of action

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      This afternoon, Vancouver witnessed its fourth walkout by secondary students who are exasperated by adults' indifference to the planet's future.

      Hundreds gathered in  šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square, which is the Indigenous name for the civic plaza on the north side of the Vancouver Art Gallery.

      The Vancouver climate strike was part of a series of actions across the country.

      "We’re coming together to fight for our lives," organizer Rebecca Hamilton told the Straight. "We’re striking with students all across the country. Thousands, tens of thousands, of students in cities and towns all across this land are striking."

      Hamilton, a Grade 11 student at Lord Byng secondary in Vancouver, is a spokesperson for a loosely affiliated group called Climate Strike Canada.

      She said that growing up in the 21st century in Vancouver, she's always been aware of the dangers of climate change.

      "I decided to take action when I realized that...the adults weren't taking action with the scale and urgency required," Hamilton stated. 

      Then she heard about Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who has energized the youth climate-justice movement by promoting school strikes.

      "Her actions really resonated with me because she was taking action with the scale and urgency required," Hamilton said. "She was saying 'I'm stepping out of my daily life. We need to prioritize climate action.' "

      This led Hamilton to bring young people together to launch the first Vancouver students' climate strike in December.

      "We’re sending an assignment to all political parties," she declared. "We have a federal election coming up and we need to see climate action prioritized. So we are asking every political party to hand in their climate action plan to us by a due date of July 1."

      Many students showed up in downtown Vancouver with colourful signs.


      The chair of the Vancouver school board, Janet Fraser, was among a small number of adults in the square.

      She expressed pride in seeing students demonstrating their concern for the planet.

      "It’s amazing to see so many people taking this action," Fraser told the Straight. "Normally, I would encourage students to be in school all the time for all their classes."

      However, she noted that there is a climate crisis, adding that it's important for the young people to be taking action.

      The Straight then asked if the students will be disciplined for not being in regular classes.

      "I think that there would be a lot of understanding about how students care," Fraser replied.

      Meanwhile, students staged a "die-in" at a Justin Trudeau—led youth summit today.

      Below, you can see images of this and other youth actions around the world.

      Carbon counts keep climbing

      According to the tracking data at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, there were 411.97 parts per million of carbon dioxide equivalents in the atmosphere in March.

      That was up from 409.41 parts per million in the same month of 2018.

      Back in 1960, the figure was below 320 parts per million.

      The rising concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases has coincided with warming of the planet and more extreme weather events, like the recent floods in Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick.