BERLIN: Climate activists staged demonstrations in cities around the world on Friday to demand more aid for poor countries hit by climate change.
The Fridays for Future movement started by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg called the protests, held from Berlin to New Delhi on the final day of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, under the hashtag #PeopleNotProfit.
In the German capital Berlin, organisers said 36,000 people marched through the city centre, although local authorities put the number at around 22,000. The activists held up placards with slogans including "Your Politics is Killing Us" and "There’s No Planet B".
"I think we still have a chance to change something. But to do that we really have to change our lifestyle now. And a radical change," protester Clemens Biet, 36, told AFP.
"There is a lot going on in Germany at the moment and there are certainly days when despair prevails and there is a feeling that things are happening far too slowly," said Stella Lesch, 29. "But there is also a lot of action being taken and a lot of people giving hope and giving the impression that a lot is possible."
In the Indonesian capital Jakarta, police lined the streets as protesters filed past chanting to the rhythm of drums. Protesters also marched in New Delhi, carrying an array of colourful banners and placards, with one sign reading "Welcome 2 Most Polluted Capital".
In France, activists briefly blocked the entrance to a TotalEnergies site in Lyon. Demonstrators also gathered in Rennes, Strasbourg, Grenoble, Marseille, Montpellier and Paris. "What we want to say today is that, after a summer of climate disasters, drought, water restrictions and heat, we could not go back to school as if nothing had happened," said Pablo Flye, a spokesman for Fridays for Future in France.
Thunberg, who began her "School strike for the climate" outside Sweden’s parliament in 2018, has risen to become one of the world’s most famous champions of action on climate change.“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.
“One day, it could be my house that gets flooded,” said 15-year-old Park Chae-yun, one of about 200 protesting in Seoul, South Korea. “I’m living with a sense of crisis, so I think it is more important to deliver my concerns to the government to take preventive measures rather than going to school.”
Denmark is the only rich country that has so far stepped up with funding for the problem of “loss and damage” due to climate-related disasters, announcing at the UN assembly this week it would provide DKK 100m (£12m) to address it.
A statement on the Fridays For Future website said: “Colonisers and capitalists are at the core of every system of oppression that has caused the climate crisis, and decolonisation, using the tool of climate reparations, is the best kind of climate action.”
The Fridays For Future youth movement began in 2018, inspired by Greta Thunberg’s solitary protests outside the Swedish parliament. It reached a high point in November 2019, when 4 million people took part in 4,500 actions worldwide on one Friday.