Youth activists have staged a coordinated “global climate strike” to highlight their fears about the effects of global warming and demand more aid for poor countries hit by wild weather.
Protesters took to the streets in Jakarta, Tokyo, Rome and Berlin carrying banners and posters with slogans such as “We are worried about the climate crisis” and “It’s not too late”.
The demonstrations were organised by the Fridays For Future youth movement that took its cue from activist Greta Thunberg, who began protesting alone outside the Swedish parliament in 2018.
“We’re striking all over the world because the governments in charge are still doing too little for climate justice,” said Darya Sotoodeh, a spokesperson for the group’s chapter in Germany.
“People all over the world are suffering from this crisis and it’s going to get worse if we don’t act on time,” she said.
Thousands of people attended the rally in Berlin, which featured calls for the German government to establish a 100-billion-euro fund for tackling climate change.
In Rome, some 5,000 young people turned out for a march that ended near the Colosseum.
One placard read “The climate is changing. Why aren’t we?”. Students highlighted among their priorities the need to rethink Italy’s transport policies. The country’s ratio of cars per inhabitant is one of the highest in Europe.
In Italy’s election campaign, which wraps up on Friday evening ahead of Sunday’s vote for Parliament, climate change policies did not figure heavily at candidates’ rallies.
The protests follow warnings from scientists that countries are not doing enough to meet the 2015 Paris climate accord’s top-line target of limiting global warming to 1.5C this century compared to pre-industrial times.
UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres told world leaders this week that the fossil fuel industry, which is responsible for a large share of planet-warming gases, is “feasting on hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies and windfall profits while household budgets shrink and our planet burns”.
Mr Guterres urged rich countries to tax the profits of energy companies and redirect the funds to both “countries suffering loss and damage caused by the climate crisis” and those struggling with the rising cost of living.
Demands for poor nations to receive greater financial help to cope with global warming, including the destruction already wrought by deadly weather events such as the floods in Pakistan, have grown louder in the run-up to this year’s UN climate summit.