Stockholm, September 25
Teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg is back. She joined fellow demonstrators outside the Swedish Parliament on Friday to kick off a day of socially distanced global climate protests.
“The main hope is, as always, to try to have an impact on the level of awareness and public opinion so that people will start becoming more aware,” the 17-year-old said. "We need to treat the climate crisis as a crisis. It's just as simple as that. The climate crisis has never once been treated as a crisis and unless we treat it as a crisis we won't be able to, so-called, 'solve' it," she said. Thunberg started her solo protests outside Sweden's parliament in Stockholm on August 20, 2018.
United under Thunberg, young people rallied worldwide on Friday to demand urgent action to halt catastrophic climate change, in their first global protest since the coronavirus crisis began.
With wild weather wreaking havoc across the world – from fires ravaging the US West, to abnormal heatwaves in the Siberian Arctic and record floods in China – organisers said their aim was to remind politicians that, while the world focused on COVID-19, the climate crisis was more acute than ever.
Demonstrations were planned in more than 3,100 locations, though with pandemic-related curbs limiting the size of gatherings, much of the action shifted online.
ON THE FRONT LINES
Friday's focus was on communities that have contributed little to greenhouse gas emissions, but are on the front lines of devastating climate threats including violent storms, rising seas and locust plagues.
In the Philippines, Mitzi Jonelle Tan, a 22-year-old Fridays for Future activist, said recent flooding had wiped out a local COVID-19 testing centre and caused a tree to fall on her home.
"I hate that it is a normal thing to experience these impacts. I hate that it is a normal thing that people are suffering – because they don't need to," she said.
Her government was failing to protect people from both climate change and the coronavirus. "They are still prioritising the rich over the poor, they are still not listening to the science," she said.
People in the global South were dying because of climate change, said 19-year-old Belgian activist Anuna De Wever ahead of a planned protest in a Brussels square.
"As one of the richest continents, we (Europeans) have the biggest responsibility to fight climate change in the most ambitious way possible."
Mya-Rose Craig, an 18-year-old Briton, travelled to the Arctic - one of the world's fastest warming regions - with Greenpeace to stage the most northerly protest on an ice floe.
In Germany, large numbers were scheduled to gather in Berlin and Bonn as well as Hamburg.
In the capital, where police had said they also expected 10,000, protesters cycled in groups to Brandenburg Gate.
Activists in Bogota, Colombia, said they would use the event to urge their government to ratify the Escazu Accord, enshrining protections for those working on environmental justice.
In Australia, thousands of students earlier took part in about 500 small gatherings and online protests, to demand investment in renewable energy and oppose funding for gas projects. Reuters
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