Students worldwide demand climate action
BERLIN (AP) — From the South Pacific to the edge of the Arctic Circle, students mobilized by word of mouth and social media are skipping class to protest what they see as the failures by their governments to take tough action against global warming.
Today's rallies were one of the biggest international climate change actions yet, involving hundreds of thousands of students in more than 100 countries around the globe.
The coordinated "school strikes" were inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who began holding solitary demonstrations outside the Swedish parliament last year.
Since then, the weekly protests have snowballed from a handful of cities to hundreds, fueled by dramatic headlines about the impact of climate change during the students' lifetime. Scientists have backed the protests, with thousands in Britain, Finland, Germany and the United States signing petitions in support of the students.
Thunberg, who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, said at a rally in Stockholm the world faces an "existential crisis, the biggest crisis humanity ever has faced and still it has been ignored for decades."
"And you know who you are, you that have ignored this," she said.
Across the globe, protests big and small urged politicians to act against climate change while also highlighting local environmental problems:
— In India's capital of New Delhi, schoolchildren protested inaction on climate change and demanded authorities tackle rising air pollution levels in the country, which often far exceed World Health Organization limits.
— In Paris, teenagers thronged the cobblestoned streets around the domed Pantheon building. Some criticized French President Emmanuel Macron, who sees himself as the guarantor of the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord but is criticized by activists for being too business-friendly and not ambitious enough in efforts to reduce emissions.