SYDNEY, Sep. 20 (Reuters / EP) –
Thousands of students have taken to the streets of Australia this Friday to start a global strike that demands that world leaders who meet for a UN Climate Action Summit take urgent measures to stop an environmental catastrophe.
“Stop denying that the Earth is dying,” said a sign carried by a student protesting in Sydney, while most social networks show students gathered across the country, among others in various state capitals and inland towns like Alice Springs.
“We don't start it, but we are trying to fight it,” said another sign at the Sydney rally.
Similar protests, inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, are planned in around 150 countries this Friday. The goal is for students and other people around the world to speak with one voice about the imminent effects of climate change on the planet.
The strike will end in New York when Thunberg, who has been nominated for a Nobel Prize for her climate activism, will lead a march at the home of the United Nations headquarters.
The UN summit brings together world leaders to discuss climate change mitigation strategies, such as the transition to renewable energy sources from fossil fuels.
Australia's Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told parliament on Thursday that students should not participate in the protest movement. “Students must go to school,” he said.
Global warming caused by greenhouse gases that trap heat by burning fossil fuels has already caused droughts and heat waves, melting glaciers, raising sea levels and floods, according to scientists.
Carbon emissions rose to record numbers last year, despite a warning from the UN-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in October that gas production should be reduced over the next 12 years to stabilize the climate.
The organizers said the demonstrations would take different forms around the world, but they all aim to promote awareness about climate change and demand political actions to curb the factors that contribute to climate change.