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Young global climate strikers vow change is coming – from the streets

·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Carlos Jasso/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Carlos Jasso/Reuters

A global climate strike by youth protesters on Friday will hit more than 1,400 locations with a message that “change is coming – from the streets”.

The strike is the first such worldwide action since the coronavirus pandemic hit, and is taking place just weeks before the vital Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow, UK.

The UN secretary general, António Guterres, said on Tuesday the world was “seemingly light years away from reaching our targets”.

The youth strikes, along with the increasingly severe impacts of extreme weather, have been credited with raising the profile of the climate emergency.

In Germany, two days before the general election, mass protests are planned in 420 towns and cities, and Greta Thunberg will address protesters in front of the Bundestag in Berlin.

“It has been a strange year and a half with the pandemic, but the climate crisis is even more urgent than it was before,” said Thunberg, whose solo strike in 2018 inspired the global Fridays for Future movement. “We will go back on the streets now to show that we have not disappeared and that we are demanding climate action and climate justice.”

Luisa Neubauer, from Fridays For Future in Germany, said: “Change is going to come but it is going to come from the streets. We will make sure that this message is out there on the 24th.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said the world’s carbon emissions must fall by half by 2030 to keep global heating below 1.5C, the limit countries agreed to strive for in 2015 in Paris.

But the UN reported on 17 September that current pledges from countries would lead to a 16% rise in the next decade.

There have been some positive moves in recent days, with China saying it will end its financing for highly polluting coal-fired power stations abroad – though not at home – and the US doubling its climate finance to vulnerable nations. This funding helps rich countries move towards delivery of the $100bn a year promised a decade ago, which is seen as critical for the success of COP26.

But Vanessa Nakate, a youth striker from the Rise Up Movement in Uganda, said: “The $100bn is the first step to correcting climate injustice. It was like countries finally looked up and saw the suffering and devastation that was going on in countries like mine because of the climate crisis. The most disturbing thing about this, though, is that it has not been delivered.”

Protesters in Mexico will assemble in front of the National Palace in Mexico City to demand that the state oil company Pemex presents a plan to decarbonise, while in Bangladesh activists will demand the scrapping of planned new coal and gas power stations. Demonstrations will also take place in 12 cities in South Africa, 64 towns and cities in Canada, at least 12 cities in Argentina, and in many other places.

“The global north should be developing climate policies that have at their core climate justice and accountability to the most affected people and areas,” said Valentina Ruas, from Brazil. “Instead, they continue to exploit vulnerable communities and recklessly extract fossil fuel, while bragging about their insignificant emission reduction plans.”.

The UK is the host of Cop26 and, in Parliament Square in London on Friday youth protesters will be joined by trade unions and environmental groups.

Elijah Mckenzie-Jackson said: “We know that another world is possible. Our government has the solutions and it has the money yet it is actively choosing not to act on climate but to prioritise the will of fossil fuel lobbyists.”

Parent climate activists are also supporting the youth strikers. Ana Ancines, from Parents For Future Colombia, said “All parents need to unite to guarantee the young generation’s future. In Latin America, we have to defend the Amazon, our natural reserves and water. I’m concerned about my kids and your kids’ future and this is why we are joining young climate activists.”

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