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359 scientists support student demonstrations for climate action
Montréal, March 11, 2019 – Over 350 scientists have expressed strong support for students who will be demonstrating for action on climate change on March 15. This is a gesture unprecedented in North America, given the reserve by which many scientists feel bound regarding such protests.
In a letter published today, on the initiative of Laure Waridel and Dominic Champagne of Le Pacte pour la Transition, professors and researchers assert that it is their responsibility to support young people who condemn the lack of political and economic leadership shown by our governments.
“Their desire to alert the public to the urgent need for action to combat climate change is not merely legitimate, but necessary – because the alarms we have raised so far have clearly been insufficient, and because the young generation will suffer the consequences of our failure to act,” they write.
They remind us that, to restrict global warming to 1.5 °C, world emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) must be reduced by close to 50% by 2030. And net GHG emissions must fall to zero by 2050, according to the IPCC’s experts. The task is colossal, and a start must be made now, say the researchers who support the students.
Among the 359 signatures, gathered in just a few days, are those of members of UQAM’s Institut des sciences de l’environnement and of a number of chairs and research centres, including CIRAIG and CIRODD. Diverse areas of research, including artificial intelligence, are represented by the signatories, among them Yoshua Bengio and other IVADO scientists, alongside David Suzuki, Catherine Potvin, Damon Matthews, and others.
Says Laure Waridel PhD, eco-sociologist and a member of the scientific committee of Le Pacte pour la Transition: “This mobilization of professors and researchers in the fields of natural sciences and technology, health, social sciences and culture, testifies to the sense of urgency they feel. Regardless of their discipline, they feel called upon to take a stand.” Most of the signatories are from Québec, but others are from Ontario, British Columbia and other Canadian provinces.
Mohamed Cheriet PhD, professor in the department of systems engineering at ETS, and future CIRODD director general: “Québec’s expertise in all fields, both technological and social, can put us in the vanguard of implementing the transition necessary for humans to live within planetary limits. There is no excuse for further delay,” he says.
Like Le Pacte pour la Transition, Lucie Sauvé PhD, professor of education science at UQAM, encourages the public to join the demonstrations organized by the young people: “Sometimes taking to the streets is necessary to make oneself heard. This is another school for all of us, the school of eco-citizenship,” she says
On March 15, numerous demonstrations will take place in Québec, adding to over 530 demonstrations planned in 59 countries. These are in response to the international call for action issued by Greta Thunberg and her movement #FridayForFuture and #ClimatStrike.