Youth Report Back on October 17th Rally

Youth, small business owners and community groups joined ClimateFast members at Queen’s Park on October 17, to demand immediate provincial action on climate change on the last day of committee hearings on Bill 4, the Cap and Trade Cancellation Act


The Ford government is pushing ahead with a decision that will cost Ontario billions of dollars and bring the province closer to the devastating impacts envisioned in last week’s report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,”said ClimateFast Co-Founder Lyn Adamson.


Ontario’s Financial Accountability officer estimates a $3 billion deficit as a result of cancelling cap and trade. The financial and human costs of climate change will vastly exceed that total. Yet the province is shutting down [many] [so many] [most] of the voices on the front lines of the climate crisis.


They’ve refused to hear from many of the groups that applied for spots at the hearings,” said Adamson. “In particular, they are missing the voices of young people who will face severe heat waves, intense thunderstorms, and flooding like we saw this summer, rising food prices due to crop failure from droughts, forest fires, and massive losses of animals and plants.”

A class of grade 4 children from Thorncliffe Park Public School, on a field trip with teacher James Snetsinger, held pictures of art calling for action on climate change.

It’s our future that is severely threatened,” 11-year-old Zoe Keary-Matzner told the crowd. “I know so many kids who want to stop climate change, we have ideas, and we understand what’s happening.” In reference to cancelling cap and trade, she asked, “how could anyone justify taking such a selfish and shortsighted approach to the future?” She said she wants this government held to account.


Cleantech entrepreneur Shiva Bhardwaj’s small business Pitstop helps businesses reduce their vehicle carbon emissions. A winner of the Helping Small and Medium Businesses Go Low Carbon 2018 award, he is concerned that his and other funding for forward-thinking green industry projects was cut.


He suggested that if government isn’t willing to work with the innovators in clean industry, we are missing opportunities to reduce emissions, For example, the decision to not invest in Drive Clean shouldn’t lead to no investment at all in advanced emissions testing.


He urged the government to “show that we as a country are global leaders on climate change, rather then moving backwards and following our counterparts in the US and saying we don’t really care about these issues.”

Kim Perrotta, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, told the crowd that a temperature increase of 1.5°C could occur as early as 2030, with impacts such as malnutrition and famine from crop failure and rising numbers of deaths related to the extreme weather.

The crowd became even more vocal when she said, “we’re talking about whether or not the world will be habitable for our children in 20, 30, 40 years. We’re running out of time. There is no time for politics, for game-playing or fake news around some of the solutions.” Instead, she challenged the political parties to “come forward with really clear, strong plans.”


Several opposition MPPs, including Jessica Bell (University-Rosedale) and Peter Tabuns (Toronto-Danforth), stopped by for photos with the children, and to lend their support. Environment Minister Rod Phillips briefly came out onto the steps of Queens Park to listen to the speakers before disappearing back inside.


ClimateFast, was not given a slot to speak at the committee hearings, but member Yuen Chun Chan told rally-goers about its written submission. “The impacts of climate change in Ontario include hot extremes and longer heat waves, heat illness and death, more frequent severe storms, and a rise in cases of Lyme disease. We are in a crisis, and we need coordinated action for deep cuts in carbon emissions. We must end fossil fuel subsidies, put a price on carbon, and transition towards renewable energy.”

The loss of cap and trade, which has already raised $2.4 billion, will mean cuts in programs for energy efficient retrofits of hospitals, schools and homes, as well as public transit upgrades and TransformTO projects, she noted.


She added that this year’s Nobel Prize in Economics for William Nordhaus’ work on carbon taxes showed that the most economically efficient way to control greenhouse gas emissions is by making polluters pay for the emissions they produce.


Greenpeace’s Keith Stewart and Bridget Allen ONeil, who has a Masters in climate change development and policy from the Institute of Development Studies in the UK, also spoke to the crowd. Stewart highlighted the need for government to address climate adaptation as well as mitigation. O’Neil stressed the impacts of climate change would be much more acutely felt in other regions of the world, and that Canada has a moral obligation to curtail its greenhouse emissions.



Please watch the video Zoe Keary-Matzner Speaks onbehalf of youth.