Eighteen-year-olds Alyssa Taburiaux and Linn Murray are going into the new year with hope and a resolution to keep fighting climate change.
They know climate change is affecting them now and will impact their futures.
Last spring the pair drafted a Parliamentary Petition asking for more action on global warming and got busy collecting signatures. They have since asked both their MPs — Richard Cannings and Wayne Stetski — to present the petition in the House of Commons on several occasions.
“The idea for this petition came when we were in Ottawa lobbying for climate solutions last year,” said Murray, who graduated from LV Rogers Secondary in Nelson in June.
“We heard from MPs from all parties that climate change is an urgent issue. But many of them feel they aren’t hearing from enough Canadians to support the kind of bold actions that are required to seriously address the issue, and are tied down by partisanship.”
“We hope that this petition from our youth perspective will give them pause to reflect that this is an urgent issue that directly impacts our generation,” added Taburiaux. “Our actions or inactions today will be felt for generations.”
South Okanagan-West Kootenay MP Cannings was extremely receptive to presenting the petition.
“I am happy to see more and more youth today engaging political leaders to act responsibly on climate change,” stated Cannings. “They understand what needs to be done to ensure a sustainable future, and the government would be wise to listen.”
Cannings has offered to present the petition multiple times as more signatures are gathered. He presented the petition in May and once again in October. In addition, Kootenay-Columbia MP Wayne Stetski presented the petition to Parliament in September.
The petition calls on the House of Commons to support the future of young Canadians by fulfilling Canada’s obligations under the Paris Agreement. It states that youth are concerned that current actions of the federal government are failing to meet those commitments, leaving them with an uncertain future in which they can grow, survive, and thrive.
The young petitioners stress that “youth want jobs that are sustainable — not for short-term gain at the expense of future generations.”
Taburiaux and Murray have been very active members of their local Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) chapter. Their travel expenses to Ottawa were crowdfunded by many donations from CCLers and their local community.
Taburiaux, who attended Selkirk College in Castlegar this fall, enjoys her work as a climate advocate. She feels CCL’s approach is different “in the way it pushes for change by creating mutual understanding and finding common ground. It is about treating all people and opinions with respect, and empowering citizens to speak up and use their political and personal powers.”
“From my experience, the youth at CCL are highly informed, passionate, and skilled, and feel strongly that collaboration across party lines is the best way to tackle climate change,” says Murray, who is also studying at Selkirk College.
This locally generated youth petition asks for a detailed climate action strategy that includes science-based targets for greenhouse gas reduction with a plan to meet them. They also request a comprehensive and steadily rising national carbon price and elimination of fossil fuel subsidies, with redirection of investments into renewable energy systems, energy efficiency, low-carbon transportation, and job training.
A Parliamentary Petition is a means to have one’s voice heard in parliament, and the government is officially required to respond to its requests. Formatting and wording are extremely particular, and so Taburiaux and Murray are grateful for guidance from MP Richard Cannings office, as well as other members of the local CCL chapter.
With last summer’s epic smoke, wildfires, hurricanes and floods, people are waking up to the true risks of climate change. Taburaiux and Murray’s hope for the new year is that the greater public awareness is translated into effective policy.
This petition demonstrates to elected officials that youth, and those who care deeply about youth, expect our government to take climate action seriously.
For more information about the petition, go to canada.citizensclimatelobby.org.