Alberta oil and gas advocates plan counter-rally amid Greta Thunbergs visit to Edmonton – Global News

Alberta oil and gas advocates plan counter-rally amid Greta Thunbergs visit to Edmonton - Global News
Activist Greta Thunberg arrives in Alberta ahead of climate strike at legislature
A group of oil and gas advocates is planning a counter-rally in Edmonton Friday at the same time Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg is scheduled to attend a climate rally in the city.

United We Roll, the group that organized a massive pro-pipeline convoy to Ottawa earlier this year, is rallying support for people “to come out in unity to show Greta we do not need her yelling at us,” according to a post on the group’s Facebook page.

“Ultimately, we don’t set the itinerary for everyone who comes to visit. That would be interesting. I could be a tour guide and every single visitor would have to start at city hall and get on e-scooters, and I would take them on my death march around downtown Calgary where I point out historical elements and public art,” joked Nenshi.

Greta Thunberg makes brief stop in Calgary; Kenney extends warm welcome

The convoy is scheduled to leave from Gorts Truck Wash in Red Deer at 7 a.m. Friday, making its way up the QEII and arriving at the Alberta legislature in time for the climate rally. The Facebook post said it will be a peaceful event.

“Pretty much everyone says to me that we have got to end the polarization and division that we’re seeing in our community. I think for too many, ending the polarization means people who disagree should shut up and go away and that’s not really what ending polarization means. It means listening to people,” he said.

“This is a call to action,” read the Facebook post. “We in the province of Alberta are tired of celebrities coming into our province and trying to tell us how to run our oil and gas sector. This is a (sic) short notice but we need to let the world know we are proud of our clean energy.”

While Mayor Naheed Nenshi was walking to the Economic Outlook at the Telus Convention Centre on Wednesday, someone informed him that Thunberg was only a couple of blocks up the street. Someone with Nenshi went to find her, welcomed her to the city and offered her the mayor’s invitation to chat.

Thunberg, 16, is expected to join activists in a march from a downtown Edmonton park to a rally at the legislature. The teen has been making international headlines with her chastising of world leaders whom she accuses of letting down youth by doing too little to tackle climate change.

Edmonton Climate Strike organizer Olivier Adkin-Kaya said there is a lot of excitement among environmentalists about Thunberg’s visit, but he recognizes many in Alberta don’t embrace her views.

According to Nenshi, comments on social media telling Thunberg she is unwelcome, casting aspersions on her or letting her know she’s “only welcome if she stays quiet and listens to the great things we’re doing for the climate here,” are disappointing.

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson extended an invitation to Thunberg to visit city hall. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said he hopes Thunberg is warmly welcomed, but there are no plans for the UCP to meet with her.

“I don’t think that’s the most productive use of the government’s time,” he said. “We have not been asked to meet with this individual and we will continue to focus on the hard work that we’re doing for Albertans.”

Environmental activist Greta Thunberg has followed through on her pledge to visit the heartland of Canada's oil and gas industry, showing up in downtown Calgary on Wednesday and planning to join a climate strike at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton on Friday.

“I’d hold out hope that anybody would be willing to look at the objective data, which is that Alberta has the highest environment, human rights and labour standards of any other major energy producer on Earth.”

The Swedish teen — who founded the Fridays For Future climate strikes that have galvanized young people around the world — was spotted on Stephen Avenue in downtown Calgary on Wednesday morning. She told a Radio-Canada reporter who saw her that she had no public events planned in Calgary and would travel to Edmonton within hours.

Greta Thunberg announced on Oct. 12 that she would be visiting the province, and since then politicians, activists and people in the energy industry have requested time with the Swedish teen activist.

Last month, Thunberg appeared at a Montreal climate strike, speaking to a crowd estimated at half a million.

There, she called for world leaders to take concrete action on climate change, adding that protests should continue until changes were implemented.

The 16-year-old also met with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau while in Montreal, telling him that the Canadian government was not doing enough to fight climate change.

Despite multiple councillors’ invitations to Thunberg on Twitter to formally address council, the mayor said the activist hasn’t made plans with the city.

On Saturday, Thunberg announced on Twitter she would travel to Alberta after a series of appearances in the United States.

Kenney added the world continues to depend on fossil fuel energy and it’s better that Canada supply it rather than countries such as Saudi Arabia or Russia.

Alberta's environment minister has said Thunberg "doesn't understand" the province, and signalled the government wouldn't be laying out the welcome mat for the teen's upcoming visit.

“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.”

Speaking to reporters outside the Alberta legislature in Edmonton on Tuesday, Environment Minister Jason Nixon said Thunberg hasn't reached out to the United Conservative Party government, and it has no plans to contact her.

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.

"I do hope that if she does come to our beautiful province, she takes the time to talk to our state-of-the-art industry partners, who are working tirelessly to continue to produce the most ethical and environmentally friendly oil and gas products in the world," Nixon said.

“We have to do better on the environmental front and we are doing better and thats the case I would make to Ms. Thunberg or anyone studying Albertas energy sector. Weve reduced the carbon emissions from a barrel of Alberta oil by about 30 per cent since the year 2000. Were on track to reduce it by another 20 per cent. 

"When you look at some of Ms. Thunberg's comments, she doesn't understand our province," Nixon said later, adding Thunberg needs to realize that Alberta must be an active partner in any global climate-change strategy.

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.

Chief Lee Crowchild, of the Tsuut'ina Nation southwest of Calgary, said he sees Thunberg's visit as a learning opportunity for her and for the world.

"I am pleased that a high-profile climate change activist is coming to Alberta. I hope her visit is not just a fly-over, but a genuine effort to learn how Canadians contribute to climate solutions," he said.

“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 worlds major energy producers, Kenney said. 

"In this case, I think it's critical that Ms. Thunberg understand that it is possible to do economic development sustainably. It is possible to balance the goals of development and protection of the environment. What better place for her to see that balance at work, than at Tsuut'ina?"

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.”

Climate Action Edmonton says people of all ages from across Treaty 6, 7, and 8 territory will take part in the strike in Edmonton on Friday.

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.”

While Edmonton's mayor, Don Iveson, extended an invitation to meet with Thunberg, Medicine Hat Mayor Ted Clugston expressed skepticism about her overall cause.

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.

"No one's ever asked me to declare a climate emergency," Clugston told the Medicine Hat News. "I'm tired of people calling carbon dioxide 'pollution.' It's a basic building block of life."

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.

Priya Migneault, with the activist group Fridays For Futures YYC, said Thunberg's trip to Alberta has her and her friends excited.

According to Climate Justice Edmonton, Thunberg will join Edmonton youth and other activists in a “climate strike” at the Alberta legislature.

"But I do hope that she is aware that this is oil and gas country, which I'm assuming she had been aware of that for a while," she said.

"A lot of us environmental activists here are not against oil-and-gas workers because we are aware that they are doing a supply-and-demand industry. And we hope that Greta sees that as well, and that's what a lot of Albertans make their money on, and that's how a lot of Albertans are fed."

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