Zoe explains the issues for us:
The Kyoto protocol from 1990 set a goal for countries to reduce green house gas emissions. Canada, in turn, set forth a goal of a 4% reduction, but the emissions actually increased by 26%. Once we realized this, we were pretty shocked.
We looked at the repercussions of global warming and climate change because of these emissions, and focused on Canada’s failure to secure the rights of the child as one of our biggest issues.
How does climate change impact children’s human rights?
Heavier toxins (and therefore the worst) in the air sink lower – so children are the ones that are most affected as they breathe in and ingest these toxins. This particularly impacts children as their reproductive organs are still developing.
Also, in dire time of need, we found that the girls in families are the first ones to drop out of school to help the family. Indigenous communities, such as First Nations people, hunt and fish for food. There is more mercury in our systems as there is a build up of toxins in these foods over time – so much so that the breast milk of Inuit mothers has been found to be toxic. My Musqueam community in the Southlands of Vancouver had a mercury infestation in our creek not that long ago. The girls had to walk 30 minutes to an hour to get water from the nearest gas station. There are First Nations reserves all across Canada that are on “boil water” advisories.
The toxins are a threat to our way of life and culture. We can’t hunt ducks or fish any more. The animals and wildlife are poisoned.
You also wrote about the lack of youth representation in government. How does this tie in?
Article 12 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child is the child’s right to have an input in policies that affect them, should they be adequately mature. It’s really important for children to have input in environmental and social policies that affect us because our future will be impacted for a disproportionately longer period of time. The government doesn’t make an effort to hear our opinions, and when our opinions are forced into the equation, they have no hold or real value. We are more educated on the issues that some people give us credit for.