Millions Of Young People Around The World Are Leading Strikes To Call Attention To The Climate Crisis
Students skipped school, made signs, and took to the streets in more than 3,600 planned strikes around the globe, part of a huge youth-led movement to protest inaction on climate change.
People — mainly young people — across the world walked out of school and work in a massive youth-led movement to draw attention to the climate crisis.
There were more than 3,600 events planned, according to the main organizing group #FridaysForFuture. The third global youth-run climate strike of the year, Friday’s event was poised to be the biggest yet and it seemed to deliver: streets in major cities around the world were shuttered with throngs of determined people holding clever signs and chanting.
The marches are leading up to the first-ever UN Youth Climate Summit in New York on Saturday.
“September 20 is not our goal,” Xiye Bastida, a 17-year-old climate activist who helped to organize the latest strike in New York, told BuzzFeed News. “It’s a stepping stone, a catalyst for future action. It’s a point to tell the world we are watching.”
The climate strike movement is just over a year old. It started with 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, who began striking alone every Friday in August last year outside of the Swedish Parliament building in Stockholm to call attention to climate change. In the year since, the movement has spurred hundreds to thousands of kids to strike regularly. Other climate movements, most notably Extinction Rebellion in the UK and the Sunrise Movement in the US, have tapped into growing frustration about a lack of climate action.
Thunberg has brought her blunt plea for climate action first to the international climate conference in Poland last year, the TED Talk stage, and, just this week, to the US Congress, where she told lawmakers, “This is the moment in history we need to be wide awake. Dreams cannot stand in the way of telling it like it is, especially not now.”
Here are scenes from how today's strikes unfolded across the world:
New York City
16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who started the movement to strike for climate change, marched in New York City.
Thousands joined the strike in downtown Los Angeles.
Students protested outside the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in downtown San Francisco.
Young students and adults in Washington, DC gathered at the National Mall and marched to the U.S. Capitol. High school students at Montgomery Blair High School walked out of class and boarded the Metro, escorted by police, according to the Washington Post.
Young students marched in Mexico City. Mexico has been identified by the UN as a country that's especially vulnerable to irreversible changes as a result of climate change, including an increase in the sea surface temperature of the Gulf of Mexico, sea level rise affecting coastal areas, and intensification of hurricanes.
Strikers even included a small group of researchers stationed in Antarctica, who brought the tally of continents featuring strikes up to seven.
Thousands marched down De la Loi street in Brussels, Belgium as part of the global climate strike.
Young people protested in La Paz, Bolivia, on Friday. Bolivia has dealt with catastrophic flooding, drought and mudslides, some of which has been attributed to El Niño events and climate change. In 2016, the worst drought in 25 years caused the Bolivian government to declare a state of emergency in over half the country. Poorer and rural areas have been hit hardest.
Protesters in Brazil assembled in Rio de Janeiro. Since his election, Brazil's far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, has rolled back environmental laws and opened up large portions of the Amazon to mining and logging industries in the country. The fires in the Amazon drew widespread attention and criticism to these moves both globally and within Brazil itself.
Climate protesters in South Africa held signs while on strike outside local government offices in Johannesburg.
Thousands of students and environmental activists protested in Tokyo, calling on the city government to push for lower carbon emission reduction goals, according to the Japan Times.
Nearly a thousand protesters marched in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, some wearing outfits made from plastic bottles.
"Kenya has experienced both prolonged droughts and intense flooding every year since 2000," according to a 2017 UNICEF report on the immediate effects of climate change in the country.
Around 10,000 protesters marched in Paris, from Place de Nation towards Parc de Bercy, according to Le Monde.
Young women attended a climate strike in Kabul, Afghanistan, flanked by the Afghan security forces. According to the UN Environment Program, 80% of conflicts in Afghanistan are related to natural resources, including land and water, and to food security.
Students — joined by environmentalists, politicians and celebrities — protested in more than 32 cities across Pakistan, according to Gulf News Asia. Activist group Climate Action Pakistan organized rallies in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, and more.
Pakistan has been named one of ten countries particularly vulnerable to the affects of climate change.
Tens of thousands of students marched in Dublin, Ireland.
Students and workers walked out and assembled at the University of Philippines' campus in Manila to take part in the strikes. It was reported Thursday that younger students would be given permission to skip classes to attend the protests.
Protesters assembled in Hong Kong, which has experienced months of mass pro-democracy demonstrations, to demand action on climate change.
Young demonstrators in Bangkok joined the global climate strike, with marches and events taking place across cities in Asia.
Huge demonstrations are taking place in cities including Berlin and Frankfurt. Activists who assembled outside the country's ministry of finance in Berlin demanded the government and businesses take immediate action to lower CO2 emissions.
School students and protesters gather during the climate strike rally in Dhaka.
Young protesters marched in London, one of many demonstrations across the UK.
"I'm worried that I won't be able to have a meal every day. ... I'm also worried that I won't be able to simply breathe outside without a gas mask or face mask," said Elijah McKenzie-Jackson, a 15-year-old from London who said he was considering striking from school all of next week. "I just think we need to strike to save the world."
Students and families took part in a climate march in Nicosia.
Young people and other activists gather for a demonstration in the Polish city of Lublin as part of the global climate strike.
Students in Kathmandu joined the global strike.
Students took part in a march in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.
Students and activists assembled in Athens to demand action.