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Climate activist Greta Thunberg protesting in Vancouver today

Last Updated Oct 25, 2019 at 2:48 pm PST

FILE - Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg and youth organizers attend a rally at the Alberta Legislature Building in Edmonton, on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley

An SFU prof says Thunberg will likely inspire and influence people in Vancouver to speak out about climate change

Friday's protest is organized by the Sustainabiliteens, who helped organized last month's climate strike

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Vancouver is front and centre in the global fight against climate change today. Swedish activist Greta Thunberg is in the city, joining hundreds of other teens for a rally and march.

The visit follows the 16-year-old’s trip to Alberta, where she rallied in Edmonton and stopped by a snow-covered glacier in Jasper National Park.

Mark Jaccard, a professor of Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University, says it’s great Thunberg is bringing her growing movement to British Columbia.

“She’s a symbol of younger people becoming activists on climate and I think that’s really important because my generation has really failed to act,” he says. “She’s a symbol of younger generations saying ‘Wait a minute, we’re the ones that are going to live in that tragedy,’ that my generation is leaving them.”

He adds Thunberg will likely inspire and influence people in Vancouver.

“She will have an influence on getting people to speak out but it isn’t just her, it’s any of the youth groups speaking out,” Jaccard says.

“But I wouldn’t put too much weight on her shoulders. If she suddenly didn’t want to do this anymore and get on with some other aspect of her life, I wouldn’t blame her.”

As for critics who say Thunberg should be spending her time and effort in countries like China and India because they are worse on climate than Canada, Jaccard says that’s totally false.

RELATED: Vancouver youth climate activists expect tens of thousands for protest featuring Thunberg

“We have way more emissions per capita than China and China is doing more than us, it’s stopping the growth in coal production,” he says. “It’s now the leading producer of electric vehicles, producer and buyer of electric vehicles. China is moving rapidly on the electricity sector, on the transportation sector and we need to catch up.”

The activist began the practice of staging Friday protests in Sweden last year, and the movement quickly spread to other countries.

Today’s protest is organized by the Sustainabiliteens, who helped organize last month’s climate strike that saw over 150,000 people take to the streets in downtown Vancouver.

The rally began at 11 a.m. at the Vancouver Art Gallery and include speeches and a march. Organizers are optimistic the strike will see tens of thousands of teens come out, as schools are closed province-wide for a Professional Development Day.