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'Change is coming': Millions take part in climate change strike

Thousands of people attended rallies across Ireland.

Protesters in London yesterday.
Protesters in London yesterday.
Image: SOPA Images/SIPA USA/PA Images

MILLIONS OF PEOPLE around the world took part in yesterday’s climate change strike, in what is believed to be the largest ever demonstration of its kind.

Masses of children skipped school and adults skipped work to join the global strike inspired by teenage activist Greta Thunberg.

Speaking ahead of a UN youth summit she will participate in today, Thunberg said the demonstration was “only the beginning”.

Some four million people filled streets around the world, organisers said.

Youngsters and adults alike chanted slogans and waved placards in demonstrations that started in Asia and the Pacific, spread across Africa, Europe and Latin America, before culminating in the United States where Thunberg rallied.

“Change is coming whether they like it or not,” the Swedish teenager said, hitting out at sceptics as she wrapped up the massive day of action in New York, where about 250,000 people protested.

Thousands of people took part in rallies across Ireland.

“We strike not just for ourselves but for the entire planet. Today we stand in solidarity not just with our fellow strikers around the world but for all those who cannot strike.

“We stand united in solidarity because without our unity, we are nothing,” student speaker Chaya Smyth told the crowd gathered in Dublin’s Merrion Square. 

Several thousand people also protested in Brazil, where banners slammed President Jair Bolsonaro over recent devastating fires in the Amazon rainforest.

Organisers said more than 300,000 children, parents and supporters rallied in Australia alone.

Australia has been struck in recent years by droughts, more intense bushfires, devastating floods and the blanching of the Great Barrier Reef — phenomena experts have blamed on a changing climate.

Strike organisers 350.org said yesterday’s rallies were the start of 5,800 protests across 163 countries over the next week.

‘We demand a safe future’

In New York’s Battery Park, tens of thousands of supporters gave Thunberg a rapturous reception, chanting her name as she called on leaders to act now to curb gas emissions.

“Why should we study for a future that is being taken away from us?” She asked.

We demand a safe future. Is that really too much to ask?

Today, she and 500 other youth environmentalists from around the world will take part in the first-ever Youth Climate Summit.

On Monday, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has convened a Climate Action Summit where more than 60 world leaders will take to the podium to present greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday pledged at least €100 billion by 2030 to tackle emissions in the energy and industrial sectors, boost zero-emission electric vehicles, and get passengers out of planes and onto trains.

Amazon chief Jeff Bezos on Thursday pledged to make the US tech giant carbon neutral by 2040 and encouraged other firms to do likewise.

A landmark UN report to be unveiled next week will warn that global warming and pollution are ravaging Earth’s oceans and icy regions in ways that could unleash misery on a global scale.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Guterres acknowledged Monday’s summit would not solve everything.

“My main objective is to make as much noise as I can, and to do as much as I can to support as many actors involved in this as I can, especially in relationship with the youth,” he said.

Contains reporting from © AFP 2019  

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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