Science, Tech & Environment

'Worse than Voldemort' — global students' strike targets climate change

Protesters are shown with placards that read, "Climate change is worse then Voldemort."

Protesters demanding action on climate change gather at Te Ngakau Civic Square in Wellington, New Zealand.

Credit:

Charlotte Greenfield/Reuters

In a global protest against government inaction on climate change, tens of thousands of school students around the world walked out of classes on Friday and took to the streets.

"Climate change is worse than Voldemort," read a handmade sign carried by one student in Wellington, New Zealand, referring to the evil wizard in the hugely popular Harry Potter books and films.

Students in Australia are shown with a sign that reads, "This isn't fine."

Thousands of school students from across Sydney attend the global strike against climate change at Town Hall in Sydney, Australia.

Credit:

Dean Lewins/AAP Image/Reuters

"The oceans are rising, so are we," read another in Sydney.

Student protests in Wellington, Sydney and Melbourne drew tens of thousands of people. In Europe, students packed streets and squares in London, Copenhagen, Rome, Vienna, Zurich, Lisbon and in the US.

Dozones of youth are shown in in the street carrying cardboard signs in Paris, France.

Students take part in a youth strike to act on climate change demonstration in Paris, France.

Credit:

Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

The worldwide student strike movement started in August 2018, when 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg began protesting outside her parliament on school days. She has since been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Related: How European kids are schooling politicians on climate change

On Friday, she spoke at a Stockholm demonstration. Other rallies were held in 100 towns around Sweden.

"We have only been born into this world, we are going to have to live with this crisis our whole lives. So will our children and grandchildren and coming generations," Thunberg  said. "We are not going to accept this. We are striking because we want a future and we are going to carry on."

Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg is shown in a yellow jacket and carrying an umbrella.

Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg participates in the "Global Strike For Future" demonstration in central Stockholm, Sweden.

Credit:

Pontus Lundahl/TT News Agency/via Reuters

 In London, thousands marched with banners like "The future is in our hands" and "We're missing lessons to teach you one".

"Education is important but climate change is more important," 14-year old Molly Powell said.

Youth are shown protesting in the street and carrying a long white banner that reads: "We are on strike until you set some action"

Youth demonstrate for action on climate change in Vienna, Austria. The banner reads: "We are on strike until you set some action"

Credit:

Leonhard Foeger/Reuters

Scientists say fossil fuel use releases greenhouse gases that trap heat and lift global temperatures, bringing more floods, droughts, heatwaves and rising sea levels.

The 2015 Paris climate conference pledge to keep the increase in global average temperatures to below 35 Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels requires a radical cutback in use of coal and fossil fuels.

Two children are shown protesting against climate change with a sign that reads: "Act now or swim later."

Children take part in a protest against climate change in London, Britain.

Credit:

Henry Nicholls/Reuters

More than 220 demonstrations were held across Germany. In Duesseldorf, some 2,000 schoolchildren paraded with a carnival float depicting a giant effigy of Thunberg with the words "Do something about the climate catastrophe at last", written along her raised arms.

The children and young people stopped around the city, home to the headquarters of many of Germany's largest manufacturers, reading out calls for change.

A young demonstrator is shown wearing a globe as a hat.

A demonstrator is seen during the "Fridays for Future" school strike against climate change in Berlin, Germany.

Credit:

Annegret Hilse/Reuters

"The clock is ticking and time is against us!" they shouted. "We are the last generation that can fix this."

"We'll have more hurricanes, we'll have rising sea levels," said one boy. "Future generations won't be able to build a time machine and come back here to remind politicians."

A student protester is shown wearing flowers as a headband and carrying a sign that reads: "Respect the planet."

A student shouts slogans during a protest against climate change in Athens, Greece.

Credit:

Costas Baltas/Reuters

In Rome, thousands of students began their protest at the Colosseum before marching through the city’s historic center. More than 10,000 marched through Lausanne, Switzerland, and thousands more through Zurich.

Students in Lisbon were joined by several political leaders, including from the Left Bloc and Communist Party.

Portuguese students are shown protesting against climate change and carrying a sign that reads: "Save our world."

Portuguese students protest to demand action on climate change in Lisbon, Portugal.

Credit:

Rafael Marchante/Reuters

About 60 students protested at government house in Bangkok, holding cardboard signs to campaign against plastic. Thailand is one of the world's worst marine plastic polluters.

"As youths who will inherit the land, we gather here to demand that the government work with us to solve these problems," said 17-year-old Thiti Usanakul, of student-led group Grin Green International.

The group was later invited to meet officials at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in two weeks.

In Seoul, more than 100 students held recycled cardboard signs with slogans like "Too Warm 4 School" and "Don't deny climate change."

Several young students are shown in green jackets protesting.

South Korean students take part in the global rally against climate change in Seoul, South Korea.

Credit:

Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

In Singapore, where strict laws regulate public assembly, young people planned a virtual campaign on social media.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has pledged  NZ$100 million ($68 million) to cut greenhouse gas emissions, supported the strikes, saying teenagers should not wait for voting age to use their voices.

Students are shown protesting wearing their school uniforms and carrying a sign that reads: "Denial is not a policy!"

Students take part in a global protest against climate change in Cape Town, South Africa.

Credit:

Mike Hutchings/Reuters

That contrasted with politicians in Australia and Britain who rebuked them for missing lessons.

"For action on issues that they think is important, they should do that after school or on weekends," Dan Tehan, Australia's education minister, told reporters.

Wellington parent Alex, who marched beside his 11-year-old son, disagreed. "It's a much better day of education," he said. "This is the greatest issue of our time."

Students in India are shown protesting and carrying a sign that reads: "Make the planet green again."

Students hold placards as they take part in a global protest against climate change in Gurugram, India.

Credit:

Adnan Abidi/Reuters

A student is shown with a bullhorn and a polar bear hat protesting against climate change.

Students strike for action on climate change in front of the government headquarters in Kiev, Ukraine.

Credit:

Gleb Garanich/Reuters

Thousands of demonstrators are shown in the streets of Belgium with one carrying a sign that reads: "Youth for climate 10/10."

Thousands of demonstrators take part in a protest against climate change in central Brussels, Belgium.

Credit:

Yves Herman/Reuters

Several youth take are shown outside of the Massachusetts State House in Boston and carrying a sign that reads: "Denial is not a policy."

Several youth take part in the global protest against climate change outside of the Massachusetts State House in Boston.

Credit:

Sarah Birnbaum/The World

By Tom Westbrook and Alex Fraser/Reuters

Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield in Wellington, Tom Westbrook in Sydney, Sonali Paul in Melbourne and Alex Fraser in London; Additional reporting by Jane Chung and Yijin Kim in Seoul, Aradhana Aravindan in Singapore, Patpicha Tanakasempipat in Bangkok, Thomas Escritt in Berlin, Simon Johnson and Phil O'Connor in Stockholm, Caterina Demony in Lisbon, Marie-Louise Gumuchian in London  and Roberto Mignucci in Rome; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Mark Heinrich.

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