Hundreds of thousands join world youth climate demo

Published March 16, 2019, 4:58 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Agence France-Presse 

Hundreds of thousands of young people skipped school across the globe on Friday to march through the streets for an international day of student protests aimed at pushing world leaders into action on climate change.

Montreal drew among the largest crowds, estimated by organizers at nearly 150,000 (AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)
Montreal drew among the largest crowds, estimated by organizers at nearly 150,000 (AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

Classrooms in capitals from Bangkok to Berlin and Lagos to London emptied as organizers of the student strike called demonstrations in more than 100 countries.

Students flooded into the streets across Europe, North and South America, and Asia carrying placards reading: “There is no planet B”, “You’re destroying our future” and “If you don’t act like adults, we will.”

Despite three decades of warnings, carbon dioxide emissions hit record levels in 2017 and again last year.

Loading the atmosphere with greenhouse gases at current rates will eventually lead to an uninhabitable planet, scientists say.

In Stockholm, Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg — who inspired the protests — warned that time was running out.

“We are living through an existential crisis that has been ignored for decades and if we do not act now it may be too late,” the 16-year-old, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, told Swedish public television station SVT.

Across the world, their placards formed a mosaic:

“Like the ocean, we will rise” (Sydney)

“Our future in your hands” (Berlin)

“System Change not Climate Change” (Vienna)

“Don’t be a Trump” (Hong Kong)

“The Titanic would have NO problem in 2019” (Elmshorn, Germany)

And everywhere, “There is no planet B.”

Montreal drew among the largest crowds, estimated by organizers at nearly 150,000.

In the United States, protests were more low-key, with events held in New York, Washington, Chicago, Portland, Oregon, and St. Paul, Minnesota, where one sign read: “So bad even introverts are here!”

Further south in Latin America, placards with messages such as “climate change is not ‘fake news'” were seen in Buenos Aires, Argentina — while young people also took to the streets in the Chilean capital Santiago and Colombia’s Medellin.

In Delhi, one of the world’s most polluted cities, 200 students took part in a colorful protest, waving ribbons, juggling and performing stunts with hoops.

“We are living through an existential crisis that has been ignored for decades,” says 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, wearing yellow, who has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize
“We have to make a choice whether we want to sit and be indifferent or do something for our planet,” said 16-year-old student Srijani Datta.

In Sydney, 18-year-old Charles Rickwood warned that Australia’s Great Barrier Reef could be destroyed.

“If current trends in the environment continue, we’ll see the one, two degrees increase in our ocean then it will simply become unsustainable and we could lose the entire Great Barrier Reef,” he told AFP.

 
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