Millions call for more action on climate change in global protests

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Across the globe, millions of people, mostly students and children, have taken part in demonstrations calling for more urgent action from their governments to tackle climate change.

The protests, inspired by Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg, started in the Pacific islands and then continued across Australia, Japan, Southeast Asia before moving on to Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas – 139 nations in all.

Young people stayed away from school while employees did not go into work during the day of mass protests.

:: The worldwide protests as they happened

In Sydney and Canberra, demonstrators called for their country – which is the world’s largest exporter of coal and liquid natural gas – to do much more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate protests reach far-flung spots

More than 300,000 protesters took to the streets making it the largest demonstration in Australia since the Iraq war began in 2003.

Tens of thousands of people across the UK also demonstrated, including in London where organisers estimated 100,000 attended a rally in Westminster.

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The Metropolitan Police said there had been eight arrests in London during the day’s protests.

Seven people were detained under Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986 for breaching conditions imposed on the protest while a man was arrested on Lambeth Bridge on suspicion of discharging a flare.

Sky’s Laura Bundock said: “Even organisers admitted they were surprised by the size of the crowds in the capital’s climate strike. Thousands and thousands filled the streets around Westminster.”

ONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20: Children hold up placards as they attend the Global Climate Strike on September 20, 2019 in London, England. Millions of people are taking to the streets around the world to take part in protests inspired by the teenage Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. Students are preparing to walk out of lessons in what could be the largest climate protest in history. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Image: Organisers believe more than 100,000 attended a rally in London

One new dad said the birth of his little daughter motivated him to get involved: “We have to be heard for the sake of our children. Time is running out,” he said.

More than 20,000 were thought to have marched in Edinburgh and 10,000 in Brighton.

Climate change activist Greta Thunberg was just eight when she became passionate about the planet

From a solo protest in 2018 to millions joining her on the streets, Greta Thunberg has become a phenomenon.

In Belfast, organisers put the turnout at between 3,000 and 4,000, with young people taking over the Corn Market area of the city centre and staging a “mass die-in”.

And in Birmingham, around 3,000 protesters, including hundreds of children, gathered in the city’s Victoria Square before marching through nearby streets.

UK Student Climate Network said more than 200 events had been organised across the country.

Ukrainian activists take part in a rally demanding actions on climate change, joining similar protests globally, three days ahead of the United Nation's emergency climate summit, in Kiev, Ukraine

Image: Ukrainian activists take part in a rally

Greta Thunberg who sparked the global climate strike movement – in which young people “strike” from going to school – said she never imagined it would take off so quickly.

She said she watched news of strikes in Australia and the Pacific before she went to bed in New York the night before.

Students attend a climate change demonstration in London

Image: Events took place across the UK

The 17-year-old called the large numbers of people protesting “a victory”, adding: “I would never have predicted or believed that this was going to happen someday and so fast.”

She said it was now up to world leaders to take action, and if they do not, they should “feel ashamed”.

On Friday, she addressed around 250,000 people in Battery Park in Manhattan.

Climate change protests continue around the world with marches and concerts in full swing.

Climate protests in Asia, Europe and Africa

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told young people in the crowd in London that “you and a whole generation have brought the issue centre stage and I am absolutely delighted about that”.

He criticised US President Donald Trump for failing to act on climate change and said he wanted to work with Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro to preserve and protect the Amazon rainforest.

Climate change protesters in Thailand host a die-in after storming Bankok's environment ministry

Image: Climate change protesters in Thailand host a die-in after storming Bangkok’s environment ministry

Green Party politician Caroline Lucas said: “It feels like there is a real uprising. It feels like there is a real sense from young people in particular that they simply won’t wait any longer.

“It is their future that is at stake and our generation, my generation is responsible for not having done nearly enough to address that.

“They have enormous moral authority when they tell us that.”

School students and protesters gather at a climate strike rally in Sydney

Image: School students and protesters gather at a rally in Sydney

One of the protesters, Jessica Ahmed, 16, from Barnet, north London, said: “School is important but so is my future,” and called on the government to acknowledge the severity of the climate crisis.

“If politicians were taking the appropriate action we need and had been taking this action a long time ago when it was recognised the world was changing in a negative way, then I would not have to be skipping school.”

Young protesters demand action on climate change in Sydney

Image: More than 300,000 took to the streets in Australia

In Berlin it was estimated 80,000 people gathered in front of the capital’s landmark Brandenburg Gate, not far from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office where the cabinet was discussing final details of a plan to cut Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions.

More than a million students from 1,800 public schools have been allowed to skip school in New York in order to protest.

Smaller protests took place in Asia, including in Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Hong Kong and India.

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Millions across the world call for urgent action on climate change

In Africa, rallies were held in Johannesburg and the South African capital Pretoria, as well as Kenya’s capital Nairobi.

The global protests come ahead of a summit at the UN next week that will urge countries to do more to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

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