Student climate demonstrators demand change
Impassioned student demonstrators joined a world movement for climate change awareness in a march from City Hall to Cabinet yesterday.
David Burt, the Premier, alongside Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier, met the crowd to hear their call for swift changes in policy.
Bermuda’s Fridays for Future demonstration took inspiration from the international school strikes for climate started by student activists.
Bermuda High School student organisers Salayah Stange and Katarina Rance were joined by students from Warwick Academy and Saltus Grammar School as they chanted slogans to passers-by on Church Street.
Salayah said her group followed the example of Fridays for Future environmental demonstrations in Sweden
“It inspired our own march on May 23, which was our first,” the year ten student said. “We got this rally today with the other schools.”
Katarina, 15, said they had been impressed by Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenage activist, now 16, who began a movement that brought out 1.6 million demonstrators in 168 countries. “Climate change is coming quickly and we only have a few years left to act. Last year, she started the striking protests for climate change. It’s become a global thing.”
Katarina said she had been studying in Germany when the student movement gained momentum.
“We decided to bring it to Bermuda,” she added.
The Bermuda activists called for the banning of single-use plastics, switching to renewable energy from fossil fuels, and the declaring of “climate emergency”.
Chants included “You will die of old age; we will die of climate change” as cars honked horns in support.
Mia Baccaglio, 13, of Warwick Academy, told The Royal Gazette: “I don’t see a future at this rate. Bermuda will be destroyed.”
Fellow student Olivia Buchanan, 13, called for the Government to adopt the 2016 Paris Agreement on reining in greenhouse gas, while Giselle Soares, 12, said: “Our entire lifestyle has to change.”
Jibril Taylor, 13, said: “I’m here because I want to change my future. Some people don’t believe in climate change. They will when they’re under water.”
Cardiff University student Brittany Siddle, 18, who held a sign by the street, said she was “raising awareness that we don’t have much time left”.
“It starts with this,” she added.
Giselle Conception, 16, from Saltus, said that “social media connected everyone”, and the movement’s goals were “doable and can be achieved if we educate as many as possible”.
Demonstrators have signed a petition to support the Bermuda Better Energy Plan, which calls for 70 per cent renewable energy for Bermuda by 2040.
Greenrock and BeSolar also turned out to show their support. More than 100 marchers headed through Hamilton to the Cabinet office on Front Street, where Mr Burt told them: “I want to encourage you to continue to make sure your voices are heard on issues of the environment.”
Mr Roban spoke with demonstrators as the Minister of Home Affairs, who hold responsibility for environmental matters.
He told them: “This is not an issue that has been away from the mind of the Government. We are committed to renewable energy being our chief source of power for the future.”
Mr Roban told the crowd that the Government was also committed to removing all single-use plastics from sale by 2022. A demonstrator shouted “Sooner!” and Mr Roban answered: “Sooner, if it can be achieved. I hope you will be helping with that.”
A girl with a placard asked: “Why is it up to us?”
Mr Roban told the crowd: “You make the difference. It’s your future — I want to work with you.”