Climate change protests ripple around the globe
Sixteen-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg (C) poses for a selfie with Panamanian climate activist Militza Flaco (R) outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, USA, 18 September 2019. EFE/EPA/JIM LO SCALZO
Sydney/Berlin/London (EFE/EPA).- Millions of people around the world from Sydney to Bangkok and Berlin to New York took to the streets calling for urgent action to tackle the climate crisis ahead of a United Nations summit this weekend.
Organizers said more than 100,000 people turned out in Germany's capital Berlin, while major demonstrations were also held in other cities across the country.
More than 1,700 businesses closed for the day to let staff join the marches while students skipped classes in line with the traditional FridaysForFuture protests pioneered by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who will be leading events in New York later in the day.
As crowds thronged the streets of Germany, the government, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, said it had finalized an ambitious agreement to tackle climate change.
The plan aims to allocate 54 billion euros of investment in energy, transport and development and reduce CO2 emissions by 55% by 2030.
Germany was planning to reduce emissions by 40% by 2020 but will not hit this target.
Over in London, crowds of students gathered in Westminster, the seat of the United Kingdom's government, holding posters and flying balloons.
The city's mayor Sadiq Khan said on Twitter: "I stand in solidarity with everyone taking part in the Global Climate Strike."
He added that Prime Minister Boris Johnson must meet the demands by acting on the climate crisis immediately with "ambitious action".
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party, said: "Young people and workers are coming out to say enough is enough.
"I'm proud to be joining London's largest climate crisis mobilisation to demand action."
Across Europe, youngsters have called on their governments to scale up action on climate change.
There were protests in Paris, Belgium, Helsinki, Copenhagen and many cities in between, including Stockholm, where Thunberg began her weekly school strikes before capturing the world's attention with her activism.
Similar scenes were witnessed across Asia, the South Pacific and Australia earlier in the day.
Several cities in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh took part in the global strike against climate change on Friday.
In the city center of Indian capital New Delhi, hundreds of people, mostly students and youngsters, marched on the streets with slogans such as "there is no planet B" and banners saying "be part of the solution, not pollution".
"I am here to demand a change. Government sees resources and the environment as something which can be exploited but not conserved," said Vrushti, a teenager taking part in the Delhi protest.
According to a 2018 report by the World Health Organization, 14 Indian cities figure among the 18 most polluted cities in the world.
In Pakistan — a country which bears the brunt of natural disasters augmented by climate change such as desertification, droughts and floods — 33 cities, including capital Islamabad and major cities Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar, saw street protests organized by youngsters through social media.
Schoolchildren, teachers and parents gathered in the Australian city of Sydney holding placards that read "Time is running out," "Human change, not climate change", "There is no Planet B," and "If not now, when?"
Thousands also gathered in other cities around the country, such as Canberra, Melbourne and Hobart as part of a global event aimed at raising awareness among governments and companies of the need to curb climate change.
Swedish teen activist Thunberg, the architect of the School Strike 4 Climate movement, sent messages from New York before the start of the demonstrations
On the streets of the Australian capital, demonstrators called for "immediate action" while taking a swipe at Prime Minister Scott Morrison, for his position in favor of the coal industry.
Morrison, who is in the United States to meet President Donald Trump, will not attend the UN summit in New York on Monday, a gesture the Greens party described as "cowardice and contempt" given that Australia is one of the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitters.
Protests were also held in South Pacific island nations, which are among the most vulnerable to rising sea levels.
Schoolchildren on the Solomon Islands, some of them carrying shields and flags and others in canoes, gathered near the sea to demand action to tackle the climate crisis.
Meanwhile, students in Kiribati, with their fists held high, chanted "We are not sinking, we are fighting," according to images posted on Twitter by environmental non-profit 350.
Swedish teen activist Thunberg, the architect of the School Strike 4 Climate movement, sent messages from New York before the start of the demonstrations.
"It’s early morning in the Pacific. Soon the sun will rise on September 20th 2019," she posted on Twitter.
"Good luck Australia, The Philippines, Japan and all the Pacific islands.
"You go first! Now lead the way!"
In another tweet she said: "Incredible pictures as Australia’s gathering for the #climatestrike
"This is the huge crowd building up in Sydney. Australia is setting the standard!
"Its bedtime in New York...so please share as many pictures as you can as the strikes move across Asia to Europe and Africa!"
Protesters came out in strength in the Thai capital, Bangkok, in Singapore and Indonesia's capital Jakarta.
The Youth Climate Summit will be held on Saturday, ahead of the UN Climate Change Summit, where only countries that have taken concrete steps to improve the environment will take the floor.