2nd Wave of Protests Caps Week Focused on Climate Action

While thousands of high school students elected to take time off school to protest, many adults also joined the marches

Students took to the streets across the globe in the hundreds of thousands Friday for 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.

In Washington, D.C., on Friday, climate activists blocked the streets around major banks and the Trump International Hotel during a roughly two-hour protest during the morning's rush hour.

In California, climate activists gathered at Chevron's corporate headquarters in San Ramon demanding that the company stop using fossil fuels.

Friday's rallies kicked off in New Zealand, where young people marched on Parliament in Wellington, holding one of the largest protests ever held there. Organizers in the capital were forced to change their security plans to accommodate the crowds, while thousands more marched in Auckland and other parts of the country.

On the other side of the planet, more than 100,000 rallied in Italy's capital, Rome, where protesters held up signs with slogans such as "Change the system, not the climate" or just the word "Future."

Marches took place in about 180 locations across Italy, including the country's financial hub of Milan where one banner read "How dare you!" — the accusation Thunberg, 16, leveled at world leaders during her U.N. speech in New York on Monday. The Italian Education Ministry said students attending the event would not be penalized for missing school.

The youth climate movement has drawn criticism from some who accuse the students of overreacting and say they would be better off going to school. But Thunberg said children and teenagers taking part in the climate protests are just acting directly on the science that underpins climate change.

When asked about U.S. President Donald Trump and others who have mocked her, 16-year-old Thunberg suggested that their world view and interests were threatened and people like her should take it as a compliment.

In an apparent sarcastic jibe at Thunberg this week following her haranguing of world leaders, Trump tweeted: "She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!"

In many ways, Thunberg displayed more maturity than her critics.

"I don't understand why grown-ups would choose to mock children and teenagers for just communicating and acting on the science when they could do something good instead," Thunberg said Friday at rally in Montreal.

"But I guess they feel like their world view or interests is threatened by us," she added. "That we should take as compliment, that we are having so much impact that people want to silence us. We've become too loud for people to handle so people want to silence us."

Thunberg earlier met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who praised her activism on climate change.

"She is the voice of a generation, of young people who are calling on their leaders to do more and do better," Trudeau said. "And I am listening."

Thunberg, however, indicated that she expects more, even of leaders who welcome the movement. Scientists this week issued new dire warnings about the consequences of rising temperatures on the world's oceans and cold regions.

"He (Trudeau) is of course obviously not doing enough, but this is just a huge problem, this is a system that is wrong," she said. "My message to all the politicians is the same: Just listen and act on the science."

Fears about the impact of global warming on the younger generation were expressed by schoolchildren in Dharmsala, India. South Asia depends heavily on water from the Himalayan glaciers that are under threat from climate change.

In Berlin, activists from the Fridays for Future group braved persistent rain to protest against a package the German government recently agreed for cutting the country's greenhouse gas emissions. Experts say the proposal falls far short of what's needed if the world's sixth biggest emitter is to meet the goal of the Paris climate accord.

Actor Javier Bardem joined dozens of young people in San Sebastian in one of several early demonstrations and rallies held across Spain on Friday morning ahead of evening demonstrations to be held in the major towns and cities. They are expected to draw big crowds, especially in Madrid and Barcelona.

Bardem was in San Sebastian to promote a documentary he worked on with Greenpeace.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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