World set for biggest day of climate demonstrations in history

CNN 1 month ago
16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg appeared in front of Congress before a hearing on climate change, just days after she met with former President Barack Obama.

From London to New York City and from Perth to Paris, climate activists will take part in a global general strike on Friday in what is expected to be the biggest day of climate demonstrations in the planet's history.

The Global Climate Strike is the third in a worldwide series of climate rallies organized by school students, and led by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg.

But it is not just young people taking part this month, with labor and humanitarian groups, environmental organizations and employees of some of the world's biggest brands also set to participate.

    According to Swedish schoolgirl Thunberg, who is in New York ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit on September 23, around 4,638 events have been organized in 139 countries.

    By going on strike on September 20 -- and September 27 in a few countries -- protestors hope to put pressure on politicians and policy makers to act on climate issues.

    In an opinion piece for CNN, teenager Katie Eder, co-founder and executive director for Future Coalition, said climate change was "the five-alarm fire that America's political leaders pretend not to see."

    The 19-year-old added: "On Friday, we're striking for a Green New Deal; for the immediate cessation of fossil-fuel projects on sovereign indigenous land; for environmental justice; for the protection and restoration of nature; and for sustainable agriculture.

    "We're striking for ourselves, for our friends and family, for the kid who lives down the street from us. We're striking because it's what we have to do."

    Amazon & Microsoft workers striking

    In March, over 1.6 million people took part in the first Global Climate Strike to demand transformative action on the climate crisis.

    The global youth movement has asked for adults to join them this time and many have said they will respond.

    Over 1,500 Amazon employees have pledged to walk out and Microsoft workers have also said they will join the strikes.

    Microsoft Workers 4 Good tweeted earlier this month: "Microsoft workers will be joining millions of people around the world by participating in the youth-led Global Climate strike on September 20th to demand an end to the age of fossil fuels."

    Outdoor clothing brand Patagonia has said it plans to shut down its operations on Friday to allow employees to join the Global Climate Strike. (Stores in Italy and the Netherlands will close on September 27, and in Switzerland on September 28.)

    Among the labor groups taking part is the Maritime Union of Australia which has reportedly said that that 380 stevedores from Hutchison Ports at Sydney's Port Botany would stop work from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time Friday to attend the climate strike, while the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in the UK has called on its members to support the climate strikers.

    In Victoria, Australia, students and public workers are being encouraged to walk out of school and work.

    A government spokesman told Melbourne-based daily newspaper The Age: "We want our kids to be engaged in the world around them, so we don't think it's fair to criticize students for holding a peaceful protest about an issue as important as this."

    NYC gives 1.1 million students permission to skip school

    In New York City 1.1 million pupils will be allowed to skip school on Friday after the city announced it would not penalize public school students joining the strikes, but made it clear that the students did need parental consent.

    New York Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted he supported the move: "New York City stands with our young people. They're our conscience."

    Crowds will rally in downtown Manhattan at 12 p.m. ET, where a roster of young climate activists will speak, including Thunberg, who sailed to New York to attend the UN Climate Action Summit.

    Thunberg the figurehead

    It took Thunberg 15 days to sail across the Atlantic -- from Plymouth, UK, to New York City. She traveled on a on a zero-emission sailboat to reduce the environmental impact of her journey, according to a statement from her team.

    The teenager, who last August began staging weekly solo protests outside the Swedish parliament every Friday, has become the figurehead of a burgeoning movement of youth climate activists.

    Barack Obama meets with Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg in Washington, DC on September 16.
    Barack Obama meets with Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg in Washington, DC on September 16.

    This week she met former US President Barack Obama and told US politicians that they were not doing enough to combat climate change.

    She has been invited to talk at the UN summit by UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres, who has called for heads of government to not bring speeches but plans on what he has called a climate emergency.

    According to the Financial Times, leading economies such as Australia and Japan will not be invited to speak at the summit because of their continued support for coal is at odds with Gutteres' aims.

      The Paris treaty, signed in 2015 by 195 nations, obliged governments to limit global temperature rises to "well below" 2 degrees Celsius and to strive for 1.5 degrees Celsius. The United States withdrew from the treaty in 2017.

      In 2017, Obama lamented President Donald Trump's decision, saying in a statement that the deal was intended to "protect the world we leave to our children."


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