Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg will rally in Edmonton on Friday but the premier has no plans to sit down with the 16-year-old.
According to Climate Justice Edmonton, Thunberg will join Edmonton youth and other activists in a “climate strike” at the Alberta legislature.
The event is organized in collaboration with Climate Justice Edmonton, Indigenous Climate Action, Edmonton Youth for Climate, Beaver Hills Warriors and other grassroots groups and community organizers, said a Wednesday news release. The rally will begin at Beaver Hills House Park, 10440 Jasper Ave N.W., at 11 a.m. and end at the Alberta legislature.
When asked Wednesday about Thunberg’s visit to the province’s capital, Premier Jason Kenney said he welcomes her to Alberta and hopes she will find the province is a “beautiful place filled with friendly people.”
“To the extent that she is focused on questions around energy and the environment, I think if she takes an objective look she will see we are, we have the highest human rights, labour and environment standards of all the world’s major energy producers,” Kenney said.
“We have to do better on the environmental front and we are doing better and that’s the case I would make to Ms. Thunberg or anyone studying Alberta’s energy sector. We’ve reduced the carbon emissions from a barrel of Alberta oil by about 30 per cent since the year 2000. We’re on track to reduce it by another 20 per cent.”
Kenney said he has not received any communication from Thunberg or a request for a meeting but he’d be “happy to share” the information on Alberta’s energy sector with “anyone who inquires.”
Friday’s strike will be the latest in a series which have drawn thousands to the legislature grounds demanding government action on climate change. Those demands include a Canadian Green New Deal — a plan to transition to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030 that protects workers and upholds Indigenous rights.
Kenney said Alberta is on the cusp of major technological changes to reduce the environmental footprint of the province’s energy production.
“Much of this will be accelerated with the introduction of our government’s technology, innovation and emissions reduction plan including a levy on major industrial emitters that we estimate will reduce CO2 emissions from Alberta’s economy by about 55,000 megatonnes,” Kenney said.
Opposition Leader Rachel Notley said they will be looking at whether or not the NDP will have the opportunity to meet with Thunberg on Friday.
“We need to take climate change seriously. We need to put in place concrete practical measures,” said Notley. “I don’t agree with her on every part of the prescription but I absolutely agree that we need to take this very seriously and that we should be inviting people to have these conversations, not chastising them for it.”
Edmonton’s climate strikes are inspired in part by Thunberg, whose weekly strikes in Sweden sparked a global movement for climate action and the hashtag #FridaysForFuture.
Thunberg has been touring across North America since arriving for the United Nation’s climate action summit in late September. She announced on Twitter last week that she would be visiting Alberta.