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Youth climate strike: Students around the world skip class to protest, demand tough action on climate change

From the South Pacific on the edge of the Arctic Circle, students mobilized by social media and word of mouth skipped Friday's lesson to protest against what they believe is the inability of their governments to take tough action against warming global. The rallies have been one of the biggest international actions yet, involving hundreds of thousands of students in more than 100 countries around the world.

The coordinated "school strikes" were inspired by the 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg who began holding solo events outside the Swedish parliament last year. Since then, weekly protests have grown from a handful of cities to hundreds, fueled by dramatic headlines on the impact of climate change during the lives of students.

Thunberg, who was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, said in a Rally in Stockholm that the world faces an "existential crisis, the greatest crisis that humanity has ever faced, yet it is been ignored for decades by those who are aware of it. And you know who you are, that you ignored this and are the most guilty of this, "he said, while the protesters applauded his name.

The protests were ongoing or planned in cities like New York; Hong Kong; New Delhi; Wellington, New Zealand; and Oulu, Finland.

  • In Berlin the police said as many as 20,000 protesters, most of them young students, gathered in a downtown square, waving signs with slogans such as "March now or swim after" and "Climate protection sheet: F" before to march through the government district of the capital with a stop in front of Chancellor Angela Merkel's office.
  • In Poland, thousands marched in the rainy Warsaw and in other cities to ask for a ban on burning coal, which is an important source of carbon dioxide. Some wore face masks as they carried banners that said "Today's modern smells like the last days of the planet" and "Make love not CO2". [1965909] In the capital of India New Delhi, schools protested about the action on climate change and the increase in air pollution levels which often far exceeds the limits of the # 39; World Health Organization.
  • "Ora o Mai" was among the signs wielded by enthusiastic teenagers who crowded the cobbled streets around the building of the Pantheon, which rises above the left bank of Paris . Several thousand students gathered peacefully around the landmark. Some have targeted French President Emmanuel Macron, who sees himself as the guarantor of the Paris climate agreement but is criticized by activists for being too sociable and unambitious in efforts to reduce French emissions.
  • About 50 students protested in the capital of South Africa, Pretoria singing "There & # 39; s No Planet B." A protester held a sign saying "You Miss The Rains Down in Africa". Experts say Africa, with its population of over 1 billion people, should be hit harder by global warming even though it contributes less to the greenhouse gas emissions that cause it.
  • The police of Vienna about 10,000 students gathered in the Austrian capital, while in neighboring Switzerland a similar number protested in the western city of Lausanne . Last month, lawmakers in the Basel North Canton of Basel symbolically declared "a climate emergency".
  • In Helsinki the police said that about 3,000 students had gathered in front of the Finnish Parliament with sporting posters like: "Dinosaurs thought they had time too!"
  • Thousands marched through Madrid and more than 50 other Spanish cities. Spain is vulnerable to rising sea levels and rapid desertification.
  • The speakers at the United States Capitol in Washington stood behind a banner that said "We don't want to die."

A website used to coordinate events listed in over 2,000 cities. In the United States, Alexandria Villasenor founded Youth Climate Strike US together with 12-year-old Haven Coleman and 16-year-old Isra Hirsi.

They ask, among other things, "100 percent renewable energy by 2030," reported CBS News correspondent Tony Dokoupil. For more than three months, Villasenor has been playing with enthusiasm since the 7th grade on Friday and has visited the United Nations headquarters in New York in the hope of pushing adults to take action against global warming.

"Because climate change will be a global problem, he decided this would be the best place to strike," he told CBS News. Students are expected to strike in all 50 states on Friday.

In a speech on Friday outside the United States, Villasenor said that world leaders were not listening. "Our world leaders are those who act like children," he said. "They are the ones who have the whims, they fight each other and refuse to take responsibility for their own actions while the planet burns."

Students around the world ignore the school for climate change strike

Carla Reemtsma, 20 years old – Another university student who helped organize the protest in Berlin, said she was part of about 50 WhatsApp groups dedicated to the discussion on climate change. "A lot happens on social media because you can reach many young people very quickly and show them: look, there are many of us," he told the Associated Press. "C & # 39; is a very low threshold, so we reach a huge number of people."

"I think that's how we managed to get so big," Reemtsma said. Many protesters in Berlin have targeted politicians like the leader of the Free Democratic Party of Germany, Christian Lindner, for suggesting that complicated issues like climate change were "a matter of non-student professionals".

Others, including Germany's Economy Minister, Peter Altmaier, invited students to stage protests outside of school hours.

Volker Quaschning, professor of engineering at the Berlin University of Applied Sciences, said it was easy for politicians to belittle students. "That's why they need our support," he said. "If we do nothing, the parts of this planet could become uninhabitable by the end of the century."

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Scientists supported the protests, with thousands of petition signatures supporting students in Britain, Finland, Germany and the United States " It gives me great hope, "commented environmentalist Bill McKibben to CBS News meteorologist Jeff Berardelli. "This new generation is doing everything possible to make sure that older people do not preclude the possibility of a decent life: it's nice to see their courage, their passion – if anyone ever thought that the boys today & # 39 ; they didn't care about the world, or are spending all their time on video games, photos from around the world should renew their faith. "

Scientists have warned for decades that current levels of greenhouse gas emissions are unsustainable , so far with little effect. In 2015, world leaders agreed in Paris to keep the Earth's global temperature increased by the end of the century well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

Yet at the moment, the world is on its way to an increase of 4 degrees Celsius, which according to experts would have far-reaching consequences for life on the planet. In Germany, environmental groups and experts have attacked the government's plans to continue using coal and natural gas in the decades to come.

Quaschning, who was one of more than 23,000 German-speaking scientists to sign a letter of support this week, said Germany should aim to "decarbonize" completely by 2040. This would give the least advanced nations a little 39; more time to wean yourself from fossil fuels while still reaching the Paris goal globally.

"This will require radical measures and there will not be" The smallest sign of what is happening so far, "Quaschning said

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A survey published Friday by & # 39; German public broadcaster ZDF found that 67% of respondents supported student protests during school hours, with 32 percent opposed.The representative telephone survey conducted between 12 and 14 March involved 1,290 voters randomly chosen. The margin of error was about 3 percentage points.

In Stockholm, Greta Thunberg predicted that the students will not let their protests go. "C & # 39; it is a crisis before us with which we must live , with which we will have to live together for all our lives, our children, our grandchildren and all future generations, "he said.

" We do not want to accept it, we will not allow this to happen and that is why and we go on strike: we are on strike because we want a future, we will continue, "he said.

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