Thursday 17 October 2019

'This is about our future,' say students as climate strikes sweep the globe

A protester in Krakow, Poland. Photo: Jakub Wlodek/Agencja Gazeta via Reuters
A protester in Krakow, Poland. Photo: Jakub Wlodek/Agencja Gazeta via Reuters

Hans Lee

Hundreds of thousands of students and workers took to the streets in a global climate strike yesterday.

The strike, inspired by 16-year-old Swede Greta Thunberg and demanding action to stop a climate catastrophe, kicked off in the Pacific islands and followed the rising sun across the world.

An environmental activist carries a signs as he takes part in the Climate strike protest calling for action on climate change, in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo: Reuters/Njeri Mwangi
An environmental activist carries a signs as he takes part in the Climate strike protest calling for action on climate change, in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo: Reuters/Njeri Mwangi

In New York, Ms Thunberg, who has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, led a rally at the United Nations headquarters, where heads of government are due to gather for a climate summit next week.

"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.

Social media posts showed scores of marches, ranging from a few dozen schoolchildren in Abuja, Nigeria, to tens of thousands of people in cities from Hamburg, Germany, to Melbourne, Australia.

Jeremy Corbyn, the UK Labour Party leader, tweeted that 100,000 people joined the demonstration in London.

Costumed protesters in Berlin. Photo: Reuters/Hannibal Hanschke
Costumed protesters in Berlin. Photo: Reuters/Hannibal Hanschke

"Our future on your shoulders," read a banner stretched across a street in Berlin.

"Our oceans are rising, so are we," was a popular slogan on placards in many places.

Among the students gathering in New York's Foley Square was Alexandria Villasenor, a 14-year-old who has been striking outside the UN every Friday since December 14.

"We're telling adults to step up and back us up with our strikes because we need everyone to tell the leaders at the global climate summit that they need to take climate action," she said.

Danielle Porepilliasana, a Sydney high school student, had a blunt message for politicians who said students should stay in class. "World leaders are telling us that students need to be at school doing work. I'd like to see them at their parliaments doing their jobs for once."

Global warming caused by greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels has led to droughts and heatwaves, melting glaciers, rising sea levels and floods, scientists say.

Carbon emissions climbed to a record high last year, despite a warning from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that output must be slashed over the next 12 years to stabilise the climate.

The protest movement is putting increasing pressure on governments and business.

The UN summit next week will discuss mitigation strategies, such as transitioning to renewable energy sources.

Donald Trump and Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro, among the world's few leaders to publicly question climate science, will not be taking part.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News