Led by young people, thousands in India joined millions around the world as they marched and struck work on Friday to demand quicker action against global warming ahead of the UN climate action summit on Monday
Millions of mostly young people took to the streets on Friday in a massive worldwide display to call attention to the climate crisis ahead of an action summit called by the United Nations General Secretary Antonio Guterres.
The demonstrations will continue through next week as leaders of many nations gather in New York on September 23 to set an agenda to accelerate the shift away from fossil fuels, implement the Paris Agreement and meet the climate challenge.
Friday’s mobilisation was perhaps the largest ever staged to demand action on the climate emergency, according to 350.org, an international environmental organisation. “Today we saw a movement, made up of people from all ages and backgrounds coming together and calling for the end of coal, oil and gas,” said May Boeve, executive director of 350.org. “No matter what differences we have, we are together now because we are fighting for our future.”
The Friday protests were modelled after the movement called Fridays for Future, which has seen thousands of children stage regular walkouts in schools over the climate crisis. One demonstration in New York was led by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old activist who has grabbed headlines due to her internationally visible demonstrations against climate change.
Change is coming
“Over 4 million on #ClimateStrike today. In 163 countries. And counting,” Thunberg tweeted on Friday. “If you belong to the small number of people who feel threatened by us, then we have some very bad news for you: This is just the beginning. Change is coming – like it or not.”
Friday’s demonstrations marked the beginning of a global mobilisation that will continue till September 27.
The United Nations says that climate change is the defining issue of our time, and now is the defining moment to do something about it. “There is still time to tackle climate change, but it will require an unprecedented effort from all sectors of society,” it said in a statement.
The first rallies on Friday began in the Pacific islands in tune with sunrise hours. Students started what organisers are calling a Global Climate Strike. There were demonstrations in 163 countries plus Antarctica, 350.org said.
The protesters are demanding that national governments and businesses commit to a goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. The Global Climate Strike is calling for a swift transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
In India, students and young people held demonstrations in several cities that included New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. The protesters numbered in the thousands, according to Greenpeace India, an activist group. “My future is being stolen from me and I am here to take it back,” said Veer Ojas, a student activist participating in a demonstration in Gurgaon on the outskirts of New Delhi.