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Youth activists aim to make climate change an election issue

Fridays for Future members in Greater Sudbury held a rally Friday afternoon urging the importance of climate action
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Fridays for Future Greater Sudbury invited Sudbury and Nickel Belt MPP candidates to join the youth-led rally that calls for climate action this week. 

Fridays for Future Greater Sudbury invited Sudbury and Nickel Belt MPP candidates to join the youth-led rally that calls for climate action this week. 

On May 20, around 10 people attended the 3 p.m. rally at the Four Corners in the city's South End. 

Sudbury.com checked out the rally in person, you can see footage from the climate rally on Sudbury.com's TikTok here

The young climate activists used the occasion to call on candidates in the provincial ejection to address the imminent climate crisis with evidence-based and socially-just solutions. 

The youth rally also wanted to raise awareness for climate action to take place immediately and educate the public on the IPCC (The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). 

“The Ontario election is coming up soon. And we're really hoping that adults that are going to be able to vote, consider the environment and consider what the IPCC has said at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,” said youth climate activist and Fridays for Future member Sophia Mathur. 

Fridays for Future youth are all under the age of 16. Mathur herself was named International Young Eco Hero just last year. The 15-year-old has been involved in climate activism since the age of seven and has also been an active member with Fridays for Future since 2018. She was one of the first young people to take up the Fridays For Future banner, inspired by the climate activism of Greta Thunberg, as well as her mother, Cathy Orlando, who is activist with the Citizens' Climate Lobby. 

“They've (IPCC) said that we have a narrow window of time to act on this and that we need to do it as soon as possible. So we're really hoping that adults actually consider it this year during the Ontario election,” Mathur said. 

Aside from holding up signs at the busy intersection, they also gave out free copies of the graphic novel ‘Because IPCC’  and two copies of ‘The Tantrum that Saved the World’. The novels were given out to help people understand what the IPCC is. 

The book ‘Because IPCC’ is a novel set in the future on what the world would look like if people took action on saving the planet. The book itself is a project of volunteers at the Canadian charity Succession. The book ‘Because IPCC’ is not formally associated with the IPCC itself.

The IPCC is an intergovernmental body of the United Nations responsible for advancing knowledge on human-induced climate change. They’ve published a report in 2018 detailing the detrimental impact the world could have should global warming reach 1.5C

Mathur’s mother Cathy Orlando told Sudbury.com a little more about the IPCC. Orlando was there primarily as a supporter for the youth rally. 

“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is an international organization for which almost all countries on the planet belong to, and they meet regularly. They send their scientists that they appoint to the IPCC to meet regularly, and this is the countries all over the world,” Orlando said. “This is the most important thing about the IPCC. It's consensus driven. So if one country does not agree with the wordings or the conclusions, it cannot be released.

"So every single country – China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Canada, USA – every country has to sign off on this before it's released. And what it is, is it's policy advice to the governments of the world about the danger we're in." 

Three local MPP candidates for the Sudbury riding arrived at the rally to show their support. All three were happy to see students stand up for what’s important. 

“I'm a retired educator. And whenever I see kids so involved in an issue that is so important as climate change, it's just natural for me to come out and support them. I'm just blown away by what I've seen here today. I'm so proud of these kids,” Liberal MPP candidate for the Sudbury riding, David Farrow said. 

Sudbury riding Green Party MPP candidate David Robinson was also there to show his support. 

“They are actually following our policy, we were out there before them with most of the things they're saying. So I support them, because they support carbon fees, they support raising them, they support border adjustment taxes and a number of other policies,” Robinson said. 

The current MPP for the Sudbury riding and running candidate for the upcoming election NDP’s Jamie West said, “They've done a lot to change our attitudes in Sudbury and quite frankly, across the province when it comes to climate change.” 

“They're the voices that are going to help us commit to changes at the provincial level as well.” 

Eden Suh is a new media reporter at Sudbury.com.