Post-secondary school students, high school students, and people of all ages are set to gather outside of the Orillia City Centre tomorrow at noon for the Fridays for Future event.
The event is part of a world-wide movement to end fossil fuels as part of a goal toward creating a more sustainable environment.
Ellen Field, a professor at Lakehead University, is a co-organizer of Friday’s event along with members of the Sustainable Orillia Youth Council.
She says the event gives young people an opportunity to have their voices heard and to ask the government to build a greener, more climate-resilient world.
“There is a data point that has stuck with me," explained Field of a large national study she did on climate change. She said they surveyed students in Grade 7 to 12.
"We ran some analysis and basically found that 46 percent of students are in a category that we call aware. They basically understand that climate change is happening, they understand there is a cause, but they don’t think there is anything we can do to change its outcome,” Field explained.
“As a researcher, educator, and a parent, seeing that almost half the students in junior high to high school have that mentality about what their future concerns me. There are solutions and it’s about having the political will to enact them and we have this critical window of time to do so.”
Field says 30 percent of earth needs to be conserved by 2030, making the youth global climate strike movement more important than ever.
“This is a powerful wave of movement that is needed. In Germany it’s actually the Fridays for Future group that litigated and took the German government to court and won on a human rights case because the climate law that had just been created in 2019 did not meet their standard for future quality of life,” she explained.
“They then had to re-draft that law and Germany committed in the spring to a 65 percent reduction to greenhouse gases by 2030, and they now have a strong climate policy because of youth climate strikers," said Field.
In previous years the Fridays for Future event was well attended, sometimes by almost 400 people. Orillia Mayor Steve Clarke has attended the strike in previous years to speak to local youth about what Orillia is doing to provide a strong climate policy.
“There is still room to grow, and we could be doing better in Orillia to meet the very ambitious targets. Right now, the city is going through the development of the climate change action plan, meaning this is a time for us to make sure we are setting targets that are in line with what needs to happen,” Field said.
Field encourages people of all ages to attend tomorrow’s event to show their support for the global climate strike.