Photo c/o Elizabeth Svyatnenko
Monday night, a group of McMaster students issued a petition urging McMaster administration to cancel classes and assessments on the afternoon of Sept. 27 so that students, staff and faculty can participate in a climate strike this Friday.
The students organizing the petition are a part of McMaster Students for Climate Change Advocacy (MSCCA), a McMaster-based climate advocacy organization.
The planned climate strike will come as part of a week of mass climate actions from Sept. 20-27, culminating in a global general strike to raise the alarm on the climate crisis.
Climate activists are planning a mass disruption, calling on people from all facets of society to walk out of school and work, thus disrupting business as usual and forcing leaders to pay attention.
“Together, we will sound the alarm and show our politicians that business as usual is no longer an option. The climate crisis won’t wait, so neither will we,” says a statement from Global Climate Strike, an environmental organization coordinating the protests.
While organizers hope that this will be Hamilton’s largest climate strike, it is not the first. Since March, young people from schools across Hamilton have been organizing regular protests to bring attention to the climate crisis. In collaboration with Fridays for future, young people from around the world have been walking out of classes on Fridays to demand immediate, far-reaching action on the climate emergency.
By making sacrifices to their education in order to attend the climate strikes, the activists are demonstrating that the climate crisis is an immediate priority.
“You’re really going to show that these people are in it for the long haul and especially if you’re missing work [or] you’re missing school. You are taking consequences and showing the fact that . . . if you don’t take care of this now, you won’t have a job, you won’t have school,” said Kirsten Connelly, MSCCA founder and co-president.
The urgency of the climate crisis was highlighted in a 2018 report from the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change. According to the report, it is of critical importance to limit global warming to 1.5°C within the next decade. It is very likely that failure to do so will result in catastrophic changes including mass extinction, floods, wildfires and the spread of infectious diseases.
Earth Strike Canada, the organization coordinating the Canadian climate strikes, asserts that the climate crisis is a result of an economic system that relies on indefinite growth, requiring unsustainable resource use and thus diminishing future quality of life. Earth Strike Canada’s demands include investments into green technological advancement, resource management reform and economic reform.
MSCCA’s role has been to encourage McMaster students to participate in the climate strike. To accomplish this, they are urging the university to cancel classes and evaluations on Friday afternoon so that students, staff and faculty can participate without penalty.
“Students shouldn’t have to choose between global citizenship and McMaster citizenship,” stated Connelly.
On Sept. 13, Concordia University announced that they would be cancelling classes the afternoon of Sept. 27 to allow students to attend the climate strike. McMaster students are urging the university to follow suit.
Last week, McMaster issued a statement saying that the university would stay open on Sept. 27 so that academic and research activities can continue as scheduled.
However, MSCCA members are still hopeful. As of Wednesday afternoon, the petition had over 2,100 signatures on Change.org, and the numbers are growing.
Organizers are pushing for a mass climate strike around the world. Hamilton’s climate strike will be held on Sept. 27 at 12:00 in Gore Park.