Students Worldwide Skip School To Demand Tough Action On Climate Change
From the South Pacific to the edge of the Arctic Circle, students mobilized by social media and word of mouth skipped class Friday to protest what they believe are their governments' failure to take tough action against global warming. The rallies were one of the biggest international 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 climate change during the students' lifetime., 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
Thunberg, who was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, said at a rally in Stockholm that the world faces an "existential crisis, the biggest crisis humanity ever has faced, and still it has been ignored for decades by those that have known about it. And you know who you are, you that have ignored this and are most guilty of this," she said, as protesters cheered her name.
Protests were underway or planned in such cities as New York; Hong Kong; New Delhi; Wellington, New Zealand; and Oulu, Finland.
- In Berlin, police said as many as 20,000 protesters, most of them young students, gathered in a downtown square, waving signs with slogans such as "March now or swim later" and "Climate Protection Report Card: F" before marching through the capital's government quarter with a stop in front of Chancellor Angela Merkel's office.
- In Poland, thousands marched in rainy Warsaw and other cities to demand a ban on the burning of coal, which is a major source of carbon dioxide. Some wore face masks as they carried banners that read "Today's Air Smells Like the Planet's Last Days" and "Make Love Not CO2."
- In India's capital New Delhi, schoolchildren protested inaction on climate change and rising air pollution levels that often far exceeds World Health Organization limits.
- "Now or Never" was among signs brandished by enthusiastic teenagers thronging cobblestoned streets around the domed Pantheon building, which rises above the Left Bank in Paris. Several thousand students gathered peacefully around the landmark. Some targeted French President Emmanuel Macron, who sees himself as the guarantor of the but is criticized by activists for being too business friendly and not ambitious enough in efforts to reduce French emissions.
- About 50 students protested in South Africa's capital, Pretoria, chanting "There's No Planet B." One protester held a sign reading "You'll Miss The Rains Down in Africa." Experts say Africa, with its population of more than 1 billion people, is expected to be hardest hit by global warming even though it contributes least to the greenhouse gas emissions that cause it.
- Police in Vienna said about 10,000 students rallied in the Austrian capital, while in neighboring Switzerland a similar number protested in the western city of Lausanne. Last month, lawmakers in the northern Swiss canton of Basel symbolically declared a "climate emergency."
- In Helsinki, police said about 3,000 students had gathered in front of Finland's Parliament sporting placards such as: "Dinosaurs thought they had time too!"
- Thousands marched through Madrid and more than 50 other Spanish cities. Spain is vulnerable to rising sea levels and rapid desertification.
- Speakers at the U.S. Capitol in Washington stood behind a banner that said "We don't want to die."
A website used to coordinate the rallies listed events in over 2,000 cities. In the U.S., Youth Climate Strike U.S. along with 12-year-old Haven Coleman and 16-year-old Isra Hirsi.founded
They're calling for, among other things, "100 percent renewable energy by 2030," CBS News correspondent Tony Dokoupil reported. For more than three months, Villasenor has been playing hooky from the 7th grade on Fridays and going to U.N. headquarters in New York in hopes of pushing adults into action against global warming.
"Since climate change will be a global problem, I decided that this would be the best place to strike," she told CBS News. She expects students to be striking in all 50 states Friday.
In a speech Friday outside the U.N., Villasenor said world leaders weren't listening. "Our world leaders are the ones acting like children," she said. "They are the ones having tantrums, arguing with each other and refusing to take responsibility for their actions while the planet burns."