Protesters evoke ‘climate emergency’ in global Friday demos

dpatop - People take part in a Fridays for Future demonstration at the Brandenburg Gate, to raise awareness for climate change, ahead of Madrid's UN Climate Change Conference in December. Photo: Christoph Soeder/dpa

Climate protesters gathered in cities from Australia to Europe on Friday, citing the “climate emergency” declared by European lawmakers just days before a major climate summit opens in Madrid.

More than 2,400 cities in 157 countries are participating in the demonstrations across the globe, according to the Fridays for Future network.

The protests come after lawmakers in the European Parliament voted on Thursday to declare a “climate and environmental emergency” in Europe.

It urges the EU’s executive branch to align their activities to limit global warming to under 1.5 degrees Celsius.

While the EU’s efforts earned praise from some including climate activist Greta Thunberg, the Germany chapter of Fridays for Future likened the EU parliament’s actions to a fire brigade screaming, “There’s a fire!”

On Friday, the German offshoot of the climate movement announced demonstrations in more than 500 cities in Germany. In Berlin, 50,000 participants have registered.

In Italy, climate protests took place in 138 cities, according to Fridays for Future Italia, including in major urban centres like Rome, Milan, Turin, Naples and Palermo.

“We are taking to the streets for the fourth time on Black Friday,” organizers said in a statement, denouncing the day in which global retailers offer discounts. “Big brands are offering discounts on consumer items to encourage us to buy things we would normally not buy. We need to change this unsustainable model,” they said.

“We are also demonstrating ahead of the COP25 in Madrid to denounce the fence-sitting and the inactivity of all of the world’s governments,” organizers added.

Next week’s COP25 environmental summit was due to be held in Santiago, but was moved to Madrid amid political unrest in Chile.

About 135 climate protests and school strikes were scheduled on Friday across Sweden, from Kiruna in the far north to Helsingborg and Malmo in the south.

Extinction Rebellion staged a so-called “die-in” at a shopping mall in central Stockholm. A dozen climate activists lay down at the entrance of the Gallerian shopping mall. A banner reading “Act now” was placed in front of them, while others sang a song titled “This is an emergency.”

In Australia, bushfires that some have blamed on climate change drove higher numbers of people to demonstrate, including an 18-year-old who lost her home and called on Canberra to take action.

In Sydney more than 500 protesters chanted outside the headquarters of the governing Liberal Party demanding more action against climate change, the national broadcaster ABC reported, while in Adelaide, 200 protesters sat on the steps of the state parliament, and in Melbourne, 700 students sat in the road in front of state parliament demanding action.

Climate researchers also joined the protests as far away as the Arctic and Antarctic, with scientists on the German research vessel Polarstern on the Arctic ice, and experts at the Neumayer station on the Antarctic, calling for more climate protection.

The climate protests can be traced back to Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who staged her first “school strike” in August 2018 outside the Swedish parliament, inspiring a youth-led movement that has staged climate strikes worldwide under the slogan Fridays for Future.

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