Normally taking to the streets with his fellow protesters, Kieran Grandbois went solo Thursday.
Grandbois, 16, one of four co-founders of the Vernon chapter of Earth Strike, staged a one-man, peaceful protest for climate action for three hours in the blazing sun outside Vernon City Hall.
“I’m doing what (Swedish activist) Greta Thunberg has been doing across the world, the sit-in strike,” said Grandbois, entering Grade 11 at W.L. Seaton Secondary, who works at the Real Canadian Superstore as a cashier. “Normally, what we do as an organization is have a large rally where people come down, sit in an area, make some noise, and leave.
“We have to keep the pressure on even if it’s just one person continuing strikes like this. I have the time.”
Earth Strike Vernon is a climate advocacy group in Vernon who have staged a handful of protests over the past year, be it at city hall or the steps of the Vernon Courthouse. Grandbois and three friends started the local chapter after reading about climate strikes across Europe.
He pointed to alarming statistics that shows why pressure must be kept on governments and organizations.
“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has given us until 2030 to reverse our cores and to limit our warming to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrious levels,” said Grandbois. “That gives us 10-and-a-half years which is a blink of an eye in terms of climate.”
Calling the climate situation “urgent,” Grandbois said world governments and corporations are “seemingly not doing anything to address the problem but, in fact, are going in the opposite direction.”
Which is where he and his fellow protesters come in.
“It’s been going well,” said Grandbois of the strikes. “We’ve been pretty much exceeding membership targets for each rally. We see a core dedicated group of youth time and time again who really are dedicated to this fight. And it’s very important that they are.
“This is the struggle that will determine the future of our generation.”
Grandbois cited some alarming climate news, such as in Greenland where, over the course of two days, the country lost 23.5 billion tonnes of ice, “absolutely unprecedented,” he said, “and it shows a very bleak future.” Or a forest fire in Russia that burned 4.2 million hectares of forest, larger than Switzerland.
And, for local impact, he said one doesn’t have to look farther than B.C.’s wildfire season.
“It’s estimated for every degree the world temperature rises on average, a forest will burn about 600 per cent faster,” said Grandbois. “We already have a fire season here in B.C. that goes out of control most years. To have forests burning that much faster is going to be absolutely devastating for B.C, Canada and the world.”
Grandbois is planning more individual strikes and protests with Earth Strike. On Friday, Sept. 27, the chapter will be part of an international general strike where it’s estimated millions of workers worldwide will lay down their tools and go on strike for their climate.
“Vernon chapter workers and students will be fighting together on that day for a collective cause, which is the future of our species,” said Grandbois.
Final details for the local event are still being worked out.