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Climate protest comes to Montreal

by Simon Prud'homme March 5, 2019
Climate protest comes to Montreal

Thousands expected at March 15 demo against climate change

Concordia students will join thousands of others across the world in the March 15 global protest against climate change.

La Planète s’invite à l’Université, a collective of students in Quebec, are organizing demonstrations across the province, including in Montreal. Jamie Latvaitis, Concordia political science student and member of the group, said the goal is to put pressure on the government to pass legislation to fight climate change.

Many other protests will be happening the same day all around the world. Many groups led by students began these strikes in response to the call of 16-year-old Greta Thunberg from Sweden, who said it was time for governments to take action against climate change.

The teenager highlighted the importance of such legislation during last year’s COP24 climate conference in Poland, according to CNN. The conferences are held every year by the UN in an effort to find climate change solutions. Thunberg plans to strike before Sweden’s parliament until they respect the Paris agreement. This agreement, signed by all UN members, seeks to limit global warming to 1.5 degree celsius.

By banding together, students involved in the movement hope their message will be heard by their governments. They believe that they have more power and visibility speaking from one united voice.

Latvaitis said La Planète wants the government to establish an educational program in partnership with young citizens that teaches ecology and informs them about climate change.

The group wants climate laws that meet the objectives recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. The IPCC recommends a CO2 global net reduction of about 45 per cent compared to 2010 levels by 2030 and reduction of methane of 50 per cent by 2050.

La planète s’invite à L’Université wants academic institutions to show greater transparency concerning their investments in fossil fuels, and keep a carbon report in order to target the most important greenhouse gas producers and reduce them.

About 48,500 students across Quebec will be on strike on March 15. La Planète s’invite à L‘Université will take to the streets of Montreal and spread their message that now is the time for the government to take action.

“We feel a powerful wave of change wanting to take over,” said Latvaitis. “New values, new interests, and new ways to see the world. The fight for climate action is a fight for all of these things.”

Following the same wave as La Planète s’invite au Parlement, a collective created by Dominic Champagne, artistic director for the Cirque du Soleil, decided to draft a “Pacte pour la transition.” This is a contract that citizens can sign as proof of their efforts to change their daily habits to protect the environment.

Champagne and fellow artists gathered more than 50,000 people to protest in Montreal in November, as well as thousands across Quebec.

La Planète s’invite à l’Université plans to hold a conference where experts will talk about climate change and inform people on what can be done and what is already done in the rest of the world.

Latvaitis said the creation of a climate policy could be done as part of a collaboration between faculties, such as biology and political science, at schools across Quebec. That new policy would also be inspired by the IPCC, whose main role is to assess the state of knowledge of climate change, according to its website. The IPCC also publishes studies to showcase the impacts of climate change as well as solutions that include a reduction of poverty.

Latvaitis said that a temperature change of just 0.5 degrees can have a major impact. “The IPCC, the highest authority of opinion on climate change, are aiming for a 1.5 degrees increase instead of 2 degrees. They explained that the difference of just 0.5 degrees would save hundreds of species,” according to an IPCC study.

The Concordia Student Union is supporting Concordia’s division of La Planète s’invite à L’Université, according to Latvaitis. The organizers are expecting about 400 Concordia students to take part in the protest and join thousands of other Montreal students.

Graphic by Ana Bilokin.

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