There is a climate emergency and we need to do something about it now.

That’s the message Friday’s climate strike participants want to spread. 

Hundreds of people came to Spirit Square on Friday afternoon to ask governments to act quickly when it comes to climate change. Many were students who have been walking out of school every Friday afternoon, and others were adults who left work and home to support the students.

Campbell River’s rally is one of over 32, 000 in other cities around the world, according to organizer Geraldine Kenny. She says each one of those rallies are asking for action from local and federal governments.

“We need leadership on climate action. And it is the people of the world who are gathering all over to stand up for action on climate. It’s absolutely imperative that we act as quickly as we can. Our world is changing very quickly and it’s up to us to make the politicians, not only responsible for this, but to take action to change it,” Kenny said. 

Kenny says there are many things that can be done on a federal level, the main one being cutting carbon emissions. She says one way to do that is by leaving fossil fuels alone. 

“They should be kept in the ground and we should transition to alternative energy. That is the most important action at the moment. Secondly, especially here on Vancouver Island and British Columbia, it’s the old growth forests that are our most important carbon sinks. If we really want to make a difference, the carbon sinks should stay standing.”

With regard to alternative energy, she says there is solar and wind power. She cites Germany as an example, where they’re starting to transition towards more solar power and using wind farms to generate energy. 

For individual action, she says every person has to look into their own conscience whether they will do something or not.

“We all know that driving cars and gasoline, coming from fossil fuel, is not a good idea. So you know what, folks? If you want to drive to the post office, walk. Buy yourself a bike. Even in your own home, just be careful of how you use energy.”

“So often, we leave that tumbler dryer going around and around and around, and the clothes are dry. So I just want to urge people, please be conscious of the role each one of us has to play in climate action.”

She says the turnout on Friday’s rally was incredible. She credits the students who started striking months before but most of all, she 16-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg. 

Campbell River students have been walking out of school every Friday afternoon, asking for action on banning single-use plastics, as well as making transportation in the city more accessible so fewer cars are on the roads. 

There were speeches and music at the rally, which then moved on to city hall.