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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.

Last updated on September 20, 2019, at 4:43 p.m. ET

Posted on September 20, 2019, at 6:34 a.m. ET

Asanka Ratnayake / Getty Images

People take photos on their phones as marchers stream past in Melbourne, Australia.

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

Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / AP

16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who started the movement to strike for climate change, marched in New York City.

NYCs massive #ClimateStrike march has begun, from Foley Sq down Centre St to Chambers St across to Broadway... and down to the Battery! Thank you @ClimateCrisis and everyone else marching!

Lester Feder / BuzzFeed News

Los Angeles

Los Angeles turned out! #ClimateStrike #ClimateStrikeLA

Thousands joined the strike in downtown Los Angeles.

San Francisco

Luci Paczkowski
Ben Margot / AP

Students protested outside the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in downtown San Francisco.

Washington, D.C.

Climate Strike, Washington DC #ClimateStrike

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.


El contignete del #FridayForFuture en la Ciudad de #Mexico está encabezado por estudiantes de primaria: "Se ve, se siente, la tierra está caliente" Reporta: @estenoesartur

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.


Climate change is not a possibility for the distant future, it is the REALITY OF TODAY!!! It’s time to rise before it’s too late. We support you, climate strikers. With love and hope from Antarctica. #ClimateStrike #FridaysForFuture

Strikers even included a small group of researchers stationed in Antarctica, who brought the tally of continents featuring strikes up to seven.


Francisco Seco / AP

Thousands marched down De la Loi street in Brussels, Belgium as part of the global climate strike.


Juan Karita / AP
Juan Karita / AP

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.


Silvia Izquierdo / AP
Silvia Izquierdo / AP

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.

South Africa

Themba Hadebe / AP
Themba Hadebe / AP

Climate protesters in South Africa held signs while on strike outside local government offices in Johannesburg.


Tokyo #ClimateStrike at famous Shibuya scramble crosswalk, while everyone else waiting on red lights.

/ AP

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.


Ben Curtis / AP
Ben Curtis / AP

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.


Francois Mori / AP

Around 10,000 protesters marched in Paris, from Place de Nation towards Parc de Bercy, according to Le Monde.


Ebrahim Noroozi / AP

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.


Huge crowds at the Islamabad #ClimateMarch. There is suddenly a climate movement in Pakistan. #ClimateActionNow

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.


A view through the crowds... #ClimateStrike protestors gathered at Merrion Square, Dublin #FridaysForFuture

Tens of thousands of students marched in Dublin, Ireland.


Tiger Balsmeyer / AP
Photo by Jenny Evans / Getty Images

A protester wears a gas mask during a march in Sydney.

Some of the biggest rallies so far took place around Australia on Friday, including in major cities like Sydney and Melbourne. More than 300,000 people were estimated to have protested across the continent.

Asanka Ratnayake / Getty Images


Ted Aljibe / AFP / Getty Images

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.

Hong Kong

Philip Fong / AFP / Getty Images

Protesters assembled in Hong Kong, which has experienced months of mass pro-democracy demonstrations, to demand action on climate change.


Dene Chen / AFP / Getty Images

Young demonstrators in Bangkok joined the global climate strike, with marches and events taking place across cities in Asia.


Maja Hitij / Getty Images

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.


Allison Joyce / Getty Images

School students and protesters gather during the climate strike rally in Dhaka.


Gareth Fuller / AP

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."

Jonathan Brady / AP


Iakovos Hatzistavrou / AFP / Getty Images

Students and families took part in a climate march in Nicosia.


Jakub Orzechowski/Agencja Gazeta via REUTERS

Young people and other activists gather for a demonstration in the Polish city of Lublin as part of the global climate strike.


REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

Students in Kathmandu joined the global strike.


Berit Roald / AFP / Getty Images

Students took part in a march in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.


Alkis Konstantinidis / Reuters

Students and activists assembled in Athens to demand action.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.