Thousands of Quebecers in the streets to demand more climate ambition

Despite the somewhat gloomy weather in some regions, thousands of Quebecers, mainly young people, demonstrate this Friday to demand more ambition in the fight against the climate crisis, almost six years after the signing of the Paris Agreement.

These demonstrations, which are part of the international movement of student strikes for the climate initiated by the young activist Greta Thunberg, are held in ten cities, including Montreal, Quebec, Sherbrooke, Gatineau, Alma, Rimouski, Granby and Joliette. Just over 112,000 students voted for a day of strike this Friday in order to participate in this mobilization in favor of “climate justice”.

In Montreal, the demonstration kicked off in the early afternoon near the monument to Sir George-Étienne Cartier, at the foot of Mount Royal, the same starting point as the imposing event which brought together some 500,000 people in September 2019.

“Today’s protests and strikes are the start of a new chapter of mobilization for climate justice after the harsh effect COVID-19 has had on the movement,” said To have to Albert Lalonde, member of the Student Coalition for an Environmental and Social Shift (CEVES).

“Now that the population is widely vaccinated, we must not forget how the most vulnerable people have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and are still the most affected by crises, including climate crises. What we need more than ever is a real social project where climate resilience involves the fight against inequalities and social injustices, ”adds Mr. Lalonde.

“Without the mobilization of a formal strike as in 2019, I find it impressive to note that more than 112,000 students spontaneously went on strike for the climate in just two or three weeks”, also argues Luca Salas, co-porte – speech of CEVES.

According to him, the fall of 2021 will be marked by pivotal moments in the fight against the climate crisis, including the next UN climate meeting (COP26), during which states must in theory increase their climate ambition. to hope to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement and limit climate change.

Political support

Elected officials from all parties represented in the National Assembly of Quebec must take part in one or other of the demonstrations scheduled for this Friday.

Present at the Montreal demonstration, the environmental spokesperson for the Quebec Liberal Party, Isabelle Melançon, recalls that “scientists are unanimous”: “There is an urgent need to act. The time is no longer for the transition. Now is the time for action. According to her, Quebec should adopt a bill “on carbon neutrality by 2050” and “renounce all forms of oil and gas exploitation”, as proposed by the Liberals.

For the solidarity member Émilise Lessard-Therrien, “young people are right to be worried”. “Everyone should be worried. If we do nothing, it is the catastrophe that awaits us and we risk never again living the world we have known, ”she insists. “The climate crisis is disrupting our seasons, messing up our benchmarks, upsetting our quality of life and that of biodiversity. The climate crisis must be tackled with the same urgency as the health crisis. “

For the head of Quebec Party, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, the fight against the climate crisis requires the independence of Quebec. “To make a country is to get out of the Canadian petro-government to ensure that our taxes are used for a shift towards a green economy and not to fatten the Alberta oil companies”, he argues.

The Minister of the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change, Benoit Charette, will not be present alongside the demonstrators this Friday. “The minister has other commitments during the event,” his cabinet confirmed on Thursday. in a written response to To have to. The parliamentary assistant to the minister “for the fight against climate change”, Richard Campeau, will however be present, it was specified.

Change required

Two years after the impressive mobilization for the climate in Quebec, the Executive Director of Équiterre, Colleen Thorpe, believes that political action is still not up to the task.

She said, however, that environmental mobilization is on the way to resuming after being put aside for several months due to the pandemic. “The desire for change and the thirst for justice have not died down. We have governments, at different levels, which constantly blow on these embers with actions that are not at all up to this great crisis. This is why I am convinced that the fire of mobilization will resume. “

For Greenpeace spokesman Patrick Bonin, the signs of the climate emergency are more evident than ever, and the political response must now be up to the task. “Forest fires, deadly heat waves and this important global mobilization must signal the awakening of governments that are still sleeping on gas. It is imperative that they listen to the population and propose ambitious climate targets and plans that will allow them to respect science, free themselves from hydrocarbons and ensure a just and safe transition for communities and ecosystems. “

Towards an “unrecognizable” world

For two years, climate science has clarified its prognosis for decades to come, if humanity fails to substantially reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

In a report published in August, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) finds that even as GHG emissions stabilize and then decline over the next several decades, the average rise in temperatures compared to the pre-industrial era is likely to increase. reach 2 ° C within twenty years, then close to 3 ° C by the end of the century.

If this last scenario were to be confirmed, the IPCC warns that the world as we know it would become “unrecognizable”, with a “decline in life expectancy” and “a decline in the quality of life” in several regions of the country. the planet. The “state of health and well-being” of the population would thus be “substantially reduced” and this state would continue to deteriorate over the following decades.

The IPCC also warns against a “major” increase in food prices, conflicts and climatic migrations. According to a report released last week by the World Bank, the climate crisis is expected to force over 200 million people to leave their region or country by 2050.

However, six years after the signing of the Paris Agreement, states are still far from doing what is necessary to reduce GHG emissions. In fact, there is no question of stabilizing emissions at present, and even less of a decline, but of an increase for the next few years. By calculating the voluntary commitments of States, the UN estimated last week that emissions are on track to increase by 16% by 2030, compared to their 2010 level, when it should decline by at least 50%. This leads us to a warming of at least 2.7 ° C, whereas we have already reached 1.1 ° C.

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