Severn Cullis- Suzuki and Stephen Lewis were at UBC as part of the “Students for Sustainability” tour.
Environmentalists Severn Cullis-Suzuki and Stephen Lewis are calling on governments globally to “force” sustainability measures on their citizens and want action now.
Cullis- Suzuki, the daughter of renowned activist David Suzuki and Lewis, Canadian politician and diplomat, were speaking to a gathering of students at University of British Columbia (UBC). They outlined a plan of action to address global warming that includes the urgent need for government leaders to provide pragmatic solutions to climate change crisis.
Lewis called it a “desperate moment in time”. Cullis-Suzuki reiterated, “Human societies never change unless they are forced to, and the problem is that our elected leaders are not implementing them.”
His main concern was about working towards sustainability as a common goal, not for the ways governments planned on handling the issue.
“I don’t care whether the answer is a carbon tax which appeals to me more than other regiments …. I really don’t care what you use…it has to be done and political interventions are necessary.” Lewis said.
The talk was part of the Canada wide 21 university campus tour lasting 30 days. The “Students for Sustainability” tour was aimed at creating awareness about climate change and the environment among university students.
The tour came about after realizing Federal government of Canada’s inability to meet the international obligations for lowering carbon emissions. Canada had committed to reducing emissions 6% below 1990 levels during 2008-2012, instead greenhouse gas emissions had increased by 27% in 2004.
The Canadian Federation of Students and the Sierra Youth Coalition and the David Suzuki Foundation together have mobilized students across Canada to put pressure on politicians to take action on climate change and other environmental issues. The students at each campus were asked to sign a petition to support the sustainability cause which will be presented to the Parliament in November 2008.
UBC was the second to last university for the tour, launched from Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland on September 30 and ended at the University of Victoria, BC.
Cullis-Suzuki put the onus on students to recruit parents for becoming more environmentally friendly, as their challenge is far more powerful than any other person.
“Use your inter-generational power. These people [parents] are still decision makers in our society,” Cullis-Suzuki said.
Cullis-Suzuki had optimistic hopes about the future, “Each of us directs the future by what kind of difference each of us makes. How we make that difference is up to us.”
Faiza Zia Khan