Young protesters around globe demand climate-change action
A wave of climate-change protests swept across the globe yesterday, with hundreds of thousands of young people sending a message to leaders headed for a UN summit: The warming world can’t wait for action.
Marches, rallies and demonstrations were held from Canberra to Kabul and Cape Town to Copenhagen, and more were set to follow as the day went on.
The Global Climate Strike events ranged from a gathering of about two dozen activists in Seoul using LED flashlights to send Morse code messages calling for action to rescue the earth to demonstrations around Australia that organisers estimated were the country’s largest protests since the Iraq War in 2003.
“Even though we ourselves aren’t sick, the planet which we live on is, and we are protesting and fighting for it,” said Siobhan Sutton, a 15-year-old student at Perth Modern School.
The protests were partly inspired by the activism of Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who has staged weekly demonstrations under the heading ‘Fridays for Future’ over the past year, calling on world leaders to step up their efforts against climate change.
“It’s such a victory,” Thunberg said in an interview yesterday with The Associated Press in New York. “I would never have predicted or believed that this was going to happen, and so fast – and only in 15 months.”
Thunberg is expected to participate in a UN Youth Climate Summit today and speak at the UN Climate Action Summit with global leaders on Monday.
“They have this opportunity to do something, and they should take that,” she said. “And otherwise, they should feel ashamed.”
The world has warmed about 1 degree Celsius (1.8 Fahrenheit) since before the Industrial Revolution, and scientists have attributed more than 90 per cent of the increase to emissions of heat-trapping gases from fuel-burning and other human activity.
Scientists have warned that global warming will subject Earth to rising seas and more heatwaves, droughts, powerful storms, flooding and other problems, and that some have already started manifesting themselves.