Berlin – Tens of thousands of pupils – from Australia and New Zealand to Europe and beyond – skipped school Friday in a second wave of global school strikes demanding action on climate change.
In Melbourne, thousands of school children and adults took over the streets to pressure the Australian government to take strong action, including the declaration of a climate emergency. It was led by the local branch of Extinction Rebellion, a British direct action group.
The protest disrupted public transport as demonstrators marched through the city and staged a "die-in" to draw attention to the Earth’s sixth mass extinction.
In Australia’s capital Canberra about two dozen students and adults protested at Northbourne Avenue in the city for several hours.
Eleanor Houghton, 12, said her parents supported her skipping school for the climate protest "as long as I don’t miss too many classes."
"We want the government to stop approving coal mines and fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy. We are all very worried about the future," she said, holding a placard that read "Stop Adani."
The controversial multi-billion-dollar Adani coal mine was one of the most divisive topics during last week’s federal election, which saw climate action-supporting Labor suffer a bruising defeat.
In New Zealand’s capital Wellington, youngsters led a noisy march to parliament, where they urged politicians to do more to secure their future. Protests were held in 20 other locations.
The worldwide protests were inspired by Swedish teen environmentalist Greta Thunberg.
She has staged a weekly protest outside parliament in Stockholm since August 2018 that has inspired students around the world to hold demonstrations calling for climate action under the Fridays For Future slogan.
In Stockholm, Thunberg thanked thousands of youths for skipping school to take part in Friday’s climate strike.
"Right now, hundreds of thousands of children are on strike all over the world. It’s really incredible," she said, amid chants of "Greta, Greta."
"We are in the midst of an existential crisis, and time is running out," Thunberg said, citing the need to slash carbon dioxide emissions.
Stockholm participants chanted slogans like "Keep it in the ground," referring to coal and oil, and "The oceans are rising, and so are we."
They cheered when organizers announced that Bermuda, Jordan and Sierra Leone were among new additions to the global protests.
Fridays for Future organizers listed activities in over 1,700 cities and towns in more than 120 countries.
The protests are taking place amid elections to the European Parliament that began on Thursday and will end on Sunday, when Germany and many other European Union countries vote.
Thunberg, who is not eligible to vote in the European elections, as she is 16, and other speakers urged young Europeans to make use of their ballot.
In Germany, protests were staged in over 200 towns and cities.
Luisa Neubauer, a symbol for the German climate movement, said in Berlin that it was necessary to consider the climate when voting.
"We need an EU Parliament that rolls up its sleeves in the face of humanity’s biggest crisis and does not close its eyes," she said.
In Italy, thousands of youths attended protests in cities including Rome, Milan and and Turin. In Turin, a placard showed US President Donald Trump standing in water up to his chest.
Fridays for Future is calling for political leaders to adhere to the targets of the 2016 Paris Agreement that limit global warming to 1.5 Celsius degrees by adopting the necessary measures.
In Istanbul, around 80 children and young people attended a rally in Macka Park. Participants carried banners that read "There is no Planet B."
The series of demonstrations in Turkey’s largest city was started in March by 12-year-old Atlas Sarrafoglu. "When I listened to Greta Thunberg last year, I started to worry about our future," she told dpa.
Thousands of youths also took to the streets in Paris. Some carried placards with the text "I am climate" (Je suis Climat). Rallies were also held in Strasburg, Montpelllier, Toulouse and Bordeaux.
In London, students assembled in Parliament Square and called for reforms of the school curriculum to include more material on climate change under the slogan "Teach the Future."