Tens of thousands of mostly young people have marched to New Zealand’s parliament, kicking off a second wave of worldwide protests demanding swift action on climate change.
The protests were inspired by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who spoke to world leaders this week at a United Nations summit in New York.
The march to the parliament in the capital Wellington was one of the largest protests ever seen in New Zealand, and organisers had to change their security plans to accommodate the swelling crowd.
Thousands more marched in Auckland and in other parts of the country.
On the other side of the planet, tens of thousands rallied in the Italian capital Rome, where protesters held up signs with slogans such as “Change the system, not the climate” or just the word “Future”.
Fears about the impact of global warming on the younger generation were also expressed by schoolchildren in Dharmsala, India. South Asia depends heavily on water from the Himalayan glaciers that are under threat from the climate crisis.
In Germany, activists from the Fridays for Future group planned to protest against a package the government recently agreed for cutting the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Experts say the proposal falls far short of what is needed if the world’s sixth biggest emitter is to meet the goal of the Paris climate accord.
The protests are part of the global climate strike that saw what organisers have said were several million people march in cities across the world last Friday ahead of the UN climate meeting.
New Zealand, Italy, Canada, Finland and a number of other countries focused their protest efforts on the second wave, bookending a week in which climate change was at the forefront of the global conversation.
Thunberg, 16, said she planned to attend a protest in Montreal.
“New Zealand leading the way into Friday nr 2 in #WeekForFuture,” she tweeted. “Good luck everyone striking around the world. Change is coming!!”
In Wellington, 18-year-old university student Katherine Rivers said it was great to see young people taking action and personal responsibility by marching.
“We need to stop pandering to some of the people who are making money off climate change. The big oil companies, the dairy industry etc,” she said. “And make a change for the future of these kids that are here.”
While thousands of high school students took time off school to protest, there were also parents, office workers and many other adults who joined the marches.
One of them was 83-year-old grandmother-of-three Violet McIntosh, who said: “It’s not my future we’re thinking about.”
She said it was time politicians stopped talking and started taking action, and listening to young people like Thunberg, who she described as “amazing”.
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