BERLIN (AP) — Youth activists on Friday staged a coordinated “global climate strike” to highlight their fears about the effects of global warming and to demand more aid for poor countries hit by wild weather.
Protesters took to the streets in Jakarta, Tokyo, Rome and Berlin carrying banners and posters with slogans such as “The climate is changing. Why not us?”
The demonstrations were organized by the Fridays for Future youth movement that took the lead of activist Greta Thunberg, who in 2018 only started protesting global energy policy and other threats to the climate outside the Swedish parliament.
“We are on strike around the world because the governments in charge are still doing too little for climate justice,” said Darya Sotoodeh, a spokesperson for the group’s Germany branch.
“People around the world are suffering from this crisis and it will get worse if we don’t act on time,” she said.
Police said some 20,000 people attended the meeting in Berlin, which called on the German government to establish a 100 billion euro fund to tackle climate change.
In Rome, some 5,000 young people showed up for a march that ended at the Colosseum.
Students highlighted among their priorities the need to rethink Italy’s transport policy. The number of cars per inhabitant of the country is one of the highest in Europe.
In Italy’s election campaign, energy and climate change policies did not play a major role in the candidates’ meetings.
The protests follow warnings from scientists that countries are not doing enough to meet the 2015 Paris climate accord’s headline target of limiting global warming to 2.7 Fahrenheit this century compared to pre-industrial times.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres this week told world leaders that the fossil fuel industry, which is responsible for much of the gases that warm the planet, “is gorging on hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies and windfalls as household budgets shrink and our planet is on fire.”
Guterres urged wealthy countries to tax the profits of energy companies and channel the funds to both “countries suffering loss and damage from the climate crisis” and countries struggling with the rising cost of living.
Demands for poor countries to increase financial aid to deal with global warming, including the destruction already wrought by deadly weather events such as the floods in Pakistan, have grown louder ahead of the UN climate summit this year. year.
A report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released in February outlined the vulnerability of global hotspots such as Africa and South Asia, whose populations are 15 times more likely to die from extreme weather compared to less vulnerable areas. of the world. If warming exceeds a few tenths of a degree, it could lead to some areas becoming uninhabitable, said report co-author Adelle Thomas.