Young people around the world took over the streets in cities around the world on Friday, Sept. 24, to demand their governments take urgent action to avert the climate crisis. It was their biggest protest since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The initiative was led under the 'Fridays For Future' movement that reached different cities such as Athens, Berlin, Budapest, Mexico City, Milan, Vienna, Zurich, Warsaw, Istanbul and many others.
The strike started just five weeks before the UN COP26 summit, which aims to achieve more ambitious climate action by world leaders to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions that warm the planet.
In addition, these protests are also motivated by the latest UN climate science report that warned in August that human activity has already been causing climate disruption for decades, but that rapid, large-scale action to reduce emissions could still avert some of the most destructive impacts.
This is the first climate demonstration by young people for more than a year and a half. In 2019, these actions brought more than six million people out onto the streets before the COVID-19 pandemic halted them and pushed the movements online.
"It's been a very strange year and a half with this pandemic. But of course the climate crisis hasn't gone away," said Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. "It's quite the opposite: it's now even more urgent than before."
It was precisely Thunberg's solo protest in Stockholm three years ago that sparked the creation of a global "climate strike."
In its latest report, the UN highlighted that "concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere remain at unprecedented levels and condemn the planet to dangerous future warming."
Among the messages raised by the young people on Friday, Sept. 24, signs read: "We are here to demand effective actions;" "there is no plan b;" "I am here for my grandchildren, the fight has to be of the young people because the planet is theirs;" and "CO2 is in the air."
In addition to the protests in the streets, activism against climate change has opened a judicial route following the path forged by activists in countries such as Holland, France and Germany.
"We are aware that pure activist actions are not giving the results we need. That is, they have not managed to change public policies," explained Lorena Ruiz-Huerta, a Greenpeace lawyer.