Decked out in green and hoisting an enormous banner, about 25 students from Dalhousie University staged a demonstration yesterday to demand a greener future for themselves and Canadians across the country.

The students, who were rallying in advance of the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, walked together through Dal’s main campus, chanting and cheering as they marched. At one point, several pulled out their cellphones and called Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office to express their desire to see the Conservative government take a stronger stance on climate change.

“As young people, we see our future as threatened by climate change and we need to move to a green economy,” said Emily Rideout, a third-year student at Dalhousie who will be heading to Copenhagen herself in a few days. “We don’t want to have to go to Alberta to work in the tar sands to make money. We want to stay in Nova Scotia and have jobs that are not detrimental to the environment.”

 

Rideout said she was pleased with Harper’s recent about-face on his attendance at the Copenhagen conference, set to begin next Monday. He announced last week that he would join U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at the talks.

“We’re very grateful that he is going,” Rideout said. “Not sure what his presence will accomplish there, but it’s a good sign that Canada is at least willing to go and participate.”

Fourth-year student Will Horne also attended yesterday’s rally, and said he remains cautiously optimistic about Canada’s role in Copenhagen.

“The generation controlling things now doesn’t have the same impetus as we do to create a stable future,” he said. “But in the past couple of weeks, there have been some baby steps in the right direction.”