Act on your conscience, climate change protesters tell everyone

More than 300,000 people turned up on the streets of Australian cities on Friday in climate change rallies, the biggest protest seen in the country since the Iraq War.

Organisers School Strike 4 Climate said in a statement 265,000 protesters turned out at demonstrations in seven Australian cities alone. The largest crowd was an estimated 100,000 in Melbourne and 80,000 in Sydney.

Protests in Melbourne and Sydney kicked off a day of global student strikes sweeping the world on Friday.

People took to the streets in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Friday morning urging government action. Low-lying Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries at risk from rising sea levels.

In neighbouring India, schoolchildren marched outside government buildings while in Taiwan, students and teachers gathered in the capital, Taipei, to launch a petition called “Fridays for the future”, echoing a call sparked by teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg.

Some held signs which read “it’s getting hot in here” and “don’t drop it like it’s hot” – a reference to popular songs.

Climate strikes spread as far as the Solomon Islands in the Pacific Ocean, where schoolchildren rallied on the beach waving banners.

No protests were authorised in China, the world’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, but Zheng Xiaowen of the China Youth Climate Action Network said Chinese youth would take action one way or another.

“Chinese youth have their own methods,” she said.

“We also pay attention the climate and we are also thinking deeply, interacting, taking action, and so many people are very conscientious on this issue.”

In Africa, strikes are currently taking place in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, and across Ghana and Uganda.

Europe is expected to follow, with schoolchildren descending in London, Paris, Madrid, Berlin and Turin.

The Italian city is one of the most polluted cities in Europe despite the country’s greenhouse gas emissions falling over the last ten years. Italy was criticised this year by the European Climate Foundation for failing to provide an adequate plan to further reduce emissions and dependency on fossil fuels, though activists say they are optimistic that the new left-leaning coalition could prioritise climate policy.

Extinction Rebellion activists who brought London to a standstill over the summer with road closures will join the strikes in London and hold a planned concert near parliament.

Later on Friday, 800 events are set to take place across the US.

The strike in New York will culminate with a speech given by Ms Thunberg, who has been nominated for a Nobel prize for her climate activism.

The 16-year-old will spearhead a rally at home of the United Nations headquarters, ahead of the UN General Summit of leaders to discuss climate change.

She noted the “huge crowd” in Sydney in a tweet, which she said would set the standard as the strikes moved across Asia, Europe and Africa.

The UN summit on Monday will bring together world leaders to discuss climate change mitigation strategies, such as transitioning to renewable energy sources from fossil fuels.