A youth movement that started with a teenager in Sweden spread across the world on Friday, evidenced by the students from London to New Delhi who skipped school to take part in demonstrations calling for action on climate change.
Sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg kicked off the movement last summer in Sweden, gaining attention when she delivered a powerful speech at the United Nations climate summit in December.
This wave of demonstrations saw one of the largest turnouts so far, including protesters in almost every state across the U.S., taking part in an event organizers called the “U.S. Youth Climate Strike.” Strikes and demonstrations were scheduled in more than 100 countries and territories, including South Africa, India, New Zealand and South Korea. In Europe, students marched in Lisbon, Vienna, Rome and Copenhagen, among other cities.
Bay Area students marched down Market Street in San Francisco, gathering first at Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s office, The San Francisco Chronicle reports. Like other students across the country, the group called for legislators to take action. They held handmade signs demanding a Green New Deal, the ambitious framework for future legislation designed to speed the country’s transition to carbon-free energy and overhaul the U.S. economy to spread wealth more evenly.
Students in Hong Kong carried signs reading “There’s no planet B” and “You’re destroying our future,” as they joined in the worldwide protests. Organizers of the march have asked the government to establish youth representatives in its Steering Committee on Climate Change, according to the Hong Kong Free Press.
New York City
In Manhattan, 16 protesters were arrested for blocking traffic during a “die-in” in front of New York City’s American Museum of Natural History, the AP reports.
Protests took place across the city, as students marched through Central Park and packed into Columbus Circle. One protester carried a sign reading, “I’m not showing up for school because adults aren’t showing up for climate.” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, spoke to a crowd from the steps of Columbia University’s library. Inslee has said addressing the climate is at the core of his campaign.
St. Paul, Minn.
In the Twin Cities, students met at the state Capitol to protest inaction on climate change. “We need to cause an uproar,” Maya Sprenger-Otto, an organizer and student, told a crowd on the steps of the Capitol, The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. “We won’t be stopped until substantial change is made.”
Students in cities across Portugal took part in the protests, including in the country’s capital, responding to calls on social media. They filled the streets with signs reading “Water & oil don’t mix” and “The Titanic would survive in 2049.”
Thunberg, who inspired the “school strikes,” spoke to a crowd in Stockholm on Friday. The teenager was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize this week.
“We are facing an existential crisis, the greatest humanity ever faced,” Thunberg said, according Swedish public television station SVT. “We will be living with this crisis throughout our lives. We will not accept it.”