NEW YORK, New York, September 21, 2019 (ENS) – At least four million people went on climate strike in 140 countries across the world, shattering previous records for turnout numbers, in an all-out effort to demonstrate their alarm at increasing global warming and to convince elected officials and world leaders that swift climate action is needed now.
The nonprofit group 350.org, a main organizer of the global climate strike, said the action was timed to coincide with the United Nations Climate Action Summit on Monday, September 23 so that world leaders “understand what we expect: bold climate action with climate justice at its heart — and an end to the age of fossil fuels.”
New Yorkers walked out in force with 300,000 strikers on the streets of Manhattan. The day ended with a huge rally at Battery Park, where youth activists from around the world spoke, from Artemisa Xakriabá of Guardians of the Forest in the Amazon to Greta Thunberg of Sweden.
Thunberg, 16, who has become the voice of youth ever since she began a sit-in in front of the Swedish Parliament last year to draw lawmakers’ attention to the climate crisis, said, “I want you to act as if the house was on fire – because it is!”
Thunberg said, “Climate change is coming whether you like it or not.”
As the sun rose over the Pacific, the Solomon Islands kicked off the day, with protestors rowing to shore in Marovo to perform a traditional warrior dance. They said, “We stand in solidarity with the global community of strikers by sharing our frontline truths in a way that resonates with Pacific Island people — through music, folklore, art, and storytelling.” More than 30 events rolled on across the Pacific all day.
With record-breaking turnouts in Melbourne and Sydney, over 400,000 people turned up across Australia — and numbers could tick higher overnight as more reports come in.
In Sydney, major roads in the city center were shut down. About 380 ship dockworkers walked off the job in Hutchinson Port, according to the Maritime Workers Union.
In India, rain didn’t stop youth in Mumbai from demanding a safe future. Photo: Fridays for Future Mumbai. Over 70 events across India brought loads of color and energy into the day.
In Nepal, a rally highlighted climate impacts on the Himalayas and opposed the government’s plan to start seismic tests for oil and gas drilling.
In Ghoti, Pakistan, temperatures soared to 41˚C as people called out for justice.
In South Africa, peaceful marchers took to the streets of Johannesburg to push for a just transition towards a renewable energy future without coal. It’s the start of a week of positive climate action in communities, from beach clean-ups to urban gardening and recycled art workshops. The South African Federation of Trade Unions, which organizes 800,000 workers, supports the strikes.
Organizers in Kiev, Ukraine reported that their strike was the largest climate mobilization yet. The first of three consecutive strike days kicked off in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi with others planned across the region.
The total number of Germany’s strikes topped 500, and there were over 1.4 million strikers in Germany alone. Berlin’s march drew 270,000 strikers despite the fact that some public transportation ground to a halt. Others in Berlin began to blockade bridges, and a series of escalatory actions are planned throughout the week.
In Paris, thousands of climate activists demonstrated Friday and again on Saturday to demand more action from the government and companies to reduce emissions and save the burning rainforest and the melting glaciers. Police used tear gas on demonstrators and closed off parts of the downtown. Paris police said at least 106 people were arrested, but some of them were taking part in demonstrations for economic justice separate from the climate strike.
Friday’s actions kicked off a week of climate demonstrations around the world. Many countries in Europe, including Italy, Portugal, and the Netherlands, won’t hold their main strikes until September 27.
Across the United States, many more actions are planned this week to build on Friday’s momentum.
At UN Headquarters in New York, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres today told the annual peace gathering that among the efforts to build a sustainably peaceful world, “urgent climate action is needed” to curb environmental threats to all our well-being and security.
Each September 21, the General Assembly-mandated International Day of Peace is observed, devoted to “strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples,” with this year’s theme spotlighting climate action as key to that aim.
“Today peace faces a new danger: the climate emergency, which threatens our security, our livelihoods and our lives,” Guterres said.
At UN Headquarters, the first UN Youth Climate Summit is happening today, giving young leaders who are driving climate action a platform to showcase their solutions at the United Nations, and to engage with decision-makers on climate concerns.
The Youth Climate Summit will feature a full-day of programming that brings together young activists between the ages of 18 and 29, innovators, entrepreneurs, and change-makers who are committed to combating climate change at the pace and scale needed to meet the challenge. It will be action-oriented, intergenerational, and inclusive, with equal representation of young leaders from all walks of life.
The Youth Climate Summit is part of a weekend of events leading up to the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit on Monday.
To prepare for the Youth Climate Summit, an unprecedented meeting was held in Salt Lake City, Utah at the end of August.
At a first-of-its-kind United Nations gathering in the western United States, representatives of nongovernmental and faith-based organizations, as well as educators, students and individual activists from Utah and around the world adopted an outcome document outlining a global vision for inclusive and sustainable cities and communities by 2030, with youth drafting and adopting a stand-alone climate compact.
María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés of Ecuador, who is president of the UN General Assembly, told participants during the closing session, “In our increasingly interdependent world, where shocks in one country can affect the lives and livelihoods of people across the globe, it seems clear that we need more cooperation, not less.”
Youth representatives played a leadership role across the process of planning the conference, developing a key thematic session on opportunity and employment for youth, programming a dedicated youth hub and organizing community events. Katelyn Grano and Mario Organista, co-chairs of the Youth Planning Committee, said, “We are grateful to the United Nations for acknowledging our role as partners, empowering us to demonstrate our leadership and offering us a platform to raise our collective voice on issues that affect or lives today as well as our future.”
At last count, over 3,000 companies have taken part in different ways — some by shutting their doors, others by giving staff the day off.
Workers from Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter staged walkouts in what organizers are calling the largest coordinated worker action in the history of the tech industry.
At the demonstration in Seattle, more than 3,000 tech workers walked out on Friday and thousands more joined actions across the country, according to Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, a group calling for Amazon to make more effort to address climate change.
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos announced on Thursday a pledge that the company would get to net zero carbon by 2040 and to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.
Bezos ordered 100,000 fully-electric delivery vehicles, the largest order ever for electric delivery vehicles, from the young American electric automaker, Rivian, based in Plymouth, Michigan.
Bezos announced that Amazon will invest US$100 million in reforestation projects around the world to begin removing carbon from the atmosphere now, and he launched a new sustainability website to report progress on commitments
More than 7,350 websites are now part of the Digital Climate Strike, either shutting down for the day or directing people to follow the global strike online.