Greek students and activists of environmental organisations hold a protest in Athens on Friday. Reuters
Hundreds of thousands of students and workers left their schools, colleges and offices on Friday and marched along city streets around the globe to demand that world leaders take urgent action to avert an environmental catastrophe.
The global climate strike, inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, kicked off in the Pacific islands and followed the rising sun across Australia, Japan, Southeast Asia and then on to Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas.
“I hope this will be another social tipping point that we show how many people are engaged, how many people are putting pressure on leaders, especially before this UN climate action summit.”
Also during the day, more than 1,000 United Nations employees called for the global body to reduce its carbon footprint, including through curbs on their own diplomatic perks like business-class flights and travel handouts.
Social media posts showed scores of demonstrations, ranging from a few dozen primary school children in Abuja, Nigeria, to tens of thousands of people in cities from Hamburg, in Germany, to Melbourne, Australia.
“This is about my future, not only my future, but the future of my entire generation and all the generations to come after ours,” said Tristan Vancleef, 16, among around 15,000 demonstrators who marched through the centre of Brussels.
Banners at the Brussels march included “Cool kids save the hot planet,” “I won’t go to school until you make it cool” and “The warm earth destroys our cold beer.”
Protesters in about 150 countries are calling on governments to take immediate action to limit the harmful effects of manmade climate change.
Britain’s opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted that 100,000 people joined the demonstration in London. “Our future on your shoulders,” read one banner stretched across a street by students in Berlin.
“Our oceans are rising, so are we,” was a popular slogan on placards in many places, including one carried by a student in school uniform in Melbourne and another by a girl wearing a facemask in Kolkata, in eastern India.
Among the students gathering in New York’s Foley Square ahead of a midday march was Alexandria Villasenor, a 14-year-old who has been striking outside the UN every Friday since Dec.14.
Global warming caused by heat-trapping greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels has already led to droughts and heat waves, melting glaciers, rising sea levels and floods, scientists say.
Carbon emissions climbed to a record high last year, despite a warning from the UN-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in October that output of the gases must be slashed over the next 12 years to stabilise the climate.
The protest movement is putting increasing pressure on both governments and companies to respond.
Online retail giant Amazon.com Inc pledged on Thursday it would be net carbon neutral by 2040.
In Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel unveiled a major new climate protection package thrashed out by parties in her coalition in all-night talks.
Meanwhile, on the streets of the capital, crowds gathered at the Brandenburg Gate, where three activists stood on blocks of ice beneath a mock gallows.
Extinction Rebellion activists began gathering in cities across Australia and New Zealand on Monday to kick off a fortnight of global civil disobedience demanding governments take urgent action on climate change.
Tens of thousands of mostly young people marched to New Zealand’s parliament on Friday, kicking off a second wave of worldwide protests demanding swift action on climate change.
Tens of thousands of people marched to New Zealand’s Parliament on Friday, launching a second wave of worldwide protests demanding swift action on climate change.
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