Students take aim at new coal exports

Oak Bay’s Weaver the only MLA willing to sign commitment

Students from Oak Bay and Saanich schools give a thumbs-up after a successful meeting with Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Andrew Weaver as he signs a commitment to stop any new thermal coal export.

Students from Oak Bay and Saanich schools give a thumbs-up after a successful meeting with Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Andrew Weaver as he signs a commitment to stop any new thermal coal export.

In a move called “brilliant” by local MLA Andrew Weaver, students across the province met with legislative members in a day dubbed Defend our Future.

A group of students from Oak Bay and Saanich met with Weaver last week at his constituency office as part of a provincial day of action for high school students on climate change.

“We are reaching a pivotal point in which our generation has to step up and do something about climate change. We are calling on our elected decision makers to think about the consequences that their decisions will have on our future” said Sky Losier, social media co-ordinator with Defend Our Future.

Students across B.C. met with MLAs to discuss how the government plans to address the proposed export of coal through Fraser Surrey Docks and other facilities in B.C. The day of action, titled Defend our Future, is a youth-led initiative aiming to draw attention to the threat that rising coal exports pose to B.C.’s environment and economy.

“It’s important for us to discuss things like this. We have to at least try,” said Kyla McDonnell, a member of Oak Bay High’s environment club who participated in a similar action last year in relation to the pipeline.

The students also presented a petition addressed to the legislative assembly, filled with youth signatures, stating: Port Metro Vancouver’s proposal to increase exports of American thermal coal through the Fraser Surrey-Docks coal transfer facility and through the Texada facility by eight million tons annually would pose extensive risk to the health and well-being of communities in proximity to rail lines, port facilities and power plants.

“Furthermore, the combustion of the exported product would contribute to anthropological climate change. As such, a growing number of Metro Vancouver residents, municipal governments, non-profit organizations and First Nations communities are joined in opposition to this project. Your petitioners respectfully request that the Honourable House oppose expanding exports of thermal coal through British Columbia.”

“I completely support you on this,” said Weaver, the Green Party MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head. “It’s brilliant.”

He readily signed a commitment to stop any new thermal coal export from B.C., calling coal the “single biggest” contributor and “lowest hanging fruit”.

Weaver was the only MLA to sign the commitment.

“We are very disappointed that MLAs from both the NDP and the BC Liberals were unwilling to move past party lines and support us in defending our future,” Losier said.

“By not signing our pledge, these MLAs have shown that they are not serious acting on climate change and/or ensuring a sustainable economy for future generations.”

They still hope that all MLAs who received petition, but didn’t sign the pledge, will still speak on their behalf.

“We hope 20 MLAs will get up and speak to it [in the legislature],” Losier said. “That’s the only way for our voices to be heard, because we can’t vote.”

 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com