From Europe to Africa to southeast Asia, tens of thousands of climate activists launched protests Friday to call for an end to the burning of planet-warming fossil fuels as the globe suffers dramatic weather extremes and record-breaking heat, with plans to continue through the weekend.
The protests — driven by several mostly youth-led, local and global climate groups and organizations, including Greta Thunberg's Fridays for Future movement — were taking place in dozens of countries and hundreds of cities worldwide.
Several thousand people marched in Vienna, holding up signs demanding higher taxes for carbon emissions and an end to meat consumption. Members of the student climate awareness group Last Generation sat down in front of parliament, and speakers called on government to quit oil and gas and pass laws to save the climate.
“We need national climate protection laws because Austria has a great responsibility, we have a historical responsibility for our emissions," Global 2000 campaigner Anna Leitner said. "And at the same time Austria and Europe are the seat of international companies which don’t care about laws elsewhere in the world and pollute the environment and climate. That’s exactly why we need a supply chain law and we demand climate protection on all levels.”
“It’s one year since Russia started the war against Ukraine,” World Wildlife Fund spokesman Thomas Zehetner said. “It’s still legal in Austria to install gas heating. ... We demand that a law needs to be passed as quickly as possibly which regulates the exit from oil and gas.”
Some 250 protests were held in Germany, including thousands of people who gathered at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and marched in a long procession through the city’s government district. One person carried a sign that read “March now or swim later." Another sign read: “There is no planet B.”
In Quezon City in the Philippines, activists lay in front of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and held signs demanding fossil fuels — from coal to natural gas — be phased out. Outside the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources office in Jakarta, Indonesia, protesters held signs calling for end to dirty fuels and greenwashing as police officers looked on.
In Jammu, India, protesters played dead in a protest against deforestation.
In Sweden, climate activists gathered in front of Parliament next to the Royal Palace where Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf was celebrating his 50th anniversary on the throne. Their chants about “climate justice” could be heard in the palace courtyard as the king watched the changing of the guard during the golden jubilee celebrations.
And in Congo, dozens joined a protest march through the city of Goma, shouting slogans and waving banners and placards calling for an end to corporate control of fossil fuels. The Congolese government caused an uproar among environmentalists last year by putting 30 oil and gas blocks up for auction, including 13 blocks crisscrossing through protected areas and national parks.
The Congo Basin forest absorbs 1.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide — about 4% of global emissions — some of which would be released into the atmosphere if the areas are cleared for oil and gas drilling.
A week before the planned protest, the United Nations warned that countries are way off track to curb warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times, as agreed in Paris in 2015. The world has warmed at least 1.1 degrees (2 degrees Fahrenheit) since then.
Over the past few months, Earth broke its daily average heat record several times according to one metric, July was the hottest month ever on record, and the Northern Hemisphere summer was declared the hottest on record.
Dozens of extreme weather events — from Hurricane Idalia in the southeastern United States to torrential flooding in Delhi in India — are believed to have been made worse by human-caused climate change.
Another major strike is planned to take place Sunday in New York, to coincide with the city’s Climate Week and the U.N. climate summit.
Climate activists have organized similar worldwide strikes in recent years, where protesters from different nations join together on a single day.
Associated Press journalists David Keyton in Stockholm, Aaron Favila in Quezon City, Philippines, Philipp Jenne in Vienna, Justin Kabumba in Goma, Congo, and Achmad Ibrahim in Jakarta contributed.
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