By Jennifer Humphries
Two years ago this month, in pre-COVID times, the citizens of Ottawa came out in force to show our government that we want action on climate change. We were responding to the call of young people to take part in the first Global Climate Strike of the Fridays for Future (FFF) movement launched by Greta Thunberg.
Now, in a time of pandemic and of “once-in-a-hundred years” wildfires, heat domes, hurricanes and floods, the youth who lead FFF Ottawa are calling on us to join them again.
The Glebe Community Association’s Environment Committee aims to participate in FFF Ottawa’s strike on September 24. “Let’s support the youth who have faced so many challenges over the past year,” says committee chair Della Wilkinson. “Let’s help them in their quest to get committed and relentless action by our leaders to combat climate change.”
TWIGS, the student environment group at Glebe Collegiate Institute, also plans to participate and wants the broader community to join. Caitlin Gormley, Jayne Taggart and Maddy Carter, TWIGS co-leads for the coming year, wrote in an email: “We think it is very important for older community members to join us in the strikes and we encourage them to do so. The more diverse our group is, the more we’ll be able to accomplish. Non-youth activists have opportunities to be catalysts for change in ways youth do not. For example, they can vote for political parties with strong environmental platforms and affect changes in their workplace.” Check out TWIGS posts on Instagram at glebe.ci.twigs.
Join our Glebe group outside the Canadian Museum of Nature at the woolly mammoths display (O’Connor and McLeod), at 11 a.m. on Friday, September 24. Bring your sign (for ideas see fridaysforfuture.org/september24/). Masks and distancing please! All COVID restrictions in force on that date will apply.
We will walk from the museum to Confederation Park where the Climate Strike March will begin at 12 noon. Organizers may split marchers into groups as COVID protocols require.
A Talk with FFF Ottawa Leaders
Recently I spoke with Erin Fletcher and Anthony Plangger who have been involved with the FFF Ottawa since 2019. Fletcher has just graduated from South Carleton Secondary School in Richmond and will be studying environmental science at the University of Guelph this fall, while Plangger is starting law school at the University of Ottawa.
What do leaders of the FFF Ottawa strikes want the community to know about their efforts?
First, we are running out of time.
While the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated in its most recent report that there is still time to limit global warming to 1.5°C, failure to act swiftly and sweepingly could have dire impacts. The report says that at 2°C of global warming, heat extremes would more often reach critical tolerance thresholds for agriculture and health.
Second, we get too many empty promises.
“We need to wake up and treat the climate crisis in the way we are treating the COVID emergency,” Plangger said. “It’s a betrayal of the people for political leaders to know the seriousness of the climate crisis and to do nothing, or not enough.”
Third, Fridays for Future is a movement, not a short-term effort.
Fletcher compares FFF to other non-violent civil rights movements that have achieved social change. “We want to raise public consciousness,” Plangger said. “Democracy doesn’t end at the ballot box. Politicians aren’t taking climate change seriously and by striking we are pushing them to do so.”
It’s hard not to despair that politicians will never listen and never make the transformative changes needed to limit global warming. But these young leaders believe power starts with people and that if enough of us think deeply about this issue, we can demand and get the action needed.
Plangger urged us to take a look at Seth Klein’s book A Good War. Klein likens the climate change to a war and urges the world to mobilize in the same way. He calls for the societal transformation that will preserve the planet for our own and future generations.
Both young leaders are also keen for scientists to be more explicit in describing the consequences of insufficient action to reduce GHG emissions – how many millions of people will become climate refugees, and how many millions will die?
The stakes are extraordinarily high. It’s time to take a stand. We hope you will join us at the Global Climate Strike on September 24.
Jennifer Humphries is a member of the Glebe Community Association Environment Committee and is the lead on trees for the group. She is also co-chair of the Glebe Report Association. For more information on the committee and on our participation in the FFF Ottawa strike, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.