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- Over 24 hours of climate action, organizers of the climate strike believe more than 1 million students skipped school on Friday or protest government inaction on climate change.
- From Australia and New Zealand, to Asia, Europe, Africa, North America and South America, students from all over the world took to the streets to demand change.
- Organizers said there were more than 2,000 protests in 125 countries.
- The student movement was inspired by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, now nominated for a Nobel Prize, who kicked off a global movement after she sat outside Swedish parliament every Friday beginning last August.
- Many students expressed anger, fear and disappointment that adults have not acted.
- Many also expressed hope for a green economy within 11 years, the timeframe experts at the United Nations believe is necessary to forestall catastrophic climate change.
- Even as students demanded change, some ignored their pleas, including diplomatic delegations from the US, who watered down agreements to eliminate single-use plastics.
- Sign up for our Green Light environment email for more on climate action.
To wrap up, here are the words of Hannah Laga Abram, an 18-year-old from Santa Fe, New Mexico, and just one of the one million students who protested today:
We are living in the sixth mass extinction. Ice is melting. Forests are burning. Waters are rising. And we do not even speak of it. Why?
Because admitting the facts means admitting crimes of epic proportions by living our daily lives. Because counting the losses means being overpowered by grief. Because allowing the scale of the crisis means facing the fear of swiftly impending disaster and the fact that our entire system must change.
But now is not the time to ignore science in order to save our feelings. It is time to be terrified, enraged, heartbroken, grief-stricken, radical.
It is time to act.
Here’s an excerpt from A manifesto for tackling the climate change crisis, by UK Student Climate Network:
We’re young, we’re students and we’re calling for change. Our movement started in February when tens of thousands of young people took to the streets in towns and cities around Britain, in an unprecedented emergence of a youth climate justice movement.
We’ve joined a movement that’s spreading rapidly across the world, catalysed by the actions of one individual in taking a stand in August last year. Greta Thunberg may have been the spark, but we’re the wildfire and we’re fuelled by the necessity for action.
The climate is in crisis. We will be facing ecological catastrophe and climate breakdown in the very near future if those in power don’t act urgently and radically to change our trajectory. Scientists have been giving increasingly dire warnings about the state of our planet for years, with the urgency and severity of their message escalating in recent times. It’s abundantly clear: change is needed, and it’s needed now!
Greenpeace highlights demonstrators in Mexico here, one of whom carries a signs that reads: “Rebellion or extinction”.
A brief look back at the marchers in Chicago, just a few hours ago.
Alexandria Villsenor, 13, has spent every Friday since December wrapped in a coat outside the United Nations headquarters in New York City, protesting inaction on climate change.
She, Isra Hirsi of Minnesota (US Representative Ilhan Omar’s daughter) and Haven Coleman from Colorado organized the US Youth Climate Strike.
The Davis, California-native said, when she last met Guardian US environment reporter Oliver Milman, she’d been outside for so long (four hours), “I lost circulation in my toes for the first time.”
My generation knows that climate change will be the biggest problem we’ll have to face,” Villasenor said. “It’s upsetting that my generation has to push these leaders to take action. We aren’t going to stop striking until some more laws are passed.”
From the 16-year-old who inspired these marches, and now a Nobel Prize nominee, Greta Thunberg:
In California, students are in the streets in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Students in LA may have the best chant of the day with this scorcher:
“What do we want?”
“When do we want it?”
“After peer review!”
Another one of the students who shared with us why the the student strikes are important is Abigail Leedy, 17, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
I’m striking Friday because I live in Philadelphia, a city I love with my whole heart.
Philadelphia is one of the most polluted major cities in the United States. At least 50% of our air pollution comes from fossil fuel projects around the city, most of which are located in low-income communities of color.
More than 156,000 people, or 10% of our city, will be displaced by sea level rise if we don’t make drastic changes to our carbon emissions. Already, students in Philadelphia missed five days of school in this fall due to excessive heat...
I am terrified about what will happen to the city I love if officials don’t take action that rises to the challenge of the climate crisis. I’m scared for myself and for the 17-year-old’s just like me who will grow up in an increasingly unlivable world, start families in neighborhoods where there is no clean air to breathe, about the lives that will be lost to climate fueled disasters like the fires in California or hurricanes in Puerto Rico or, soon enough, floods in Philadelphia.
I’m striking because what seems so terribly clear to me- that lives have already been lost to the climate crisis, that if we do not take action now there will be an unfathomable human cost- seems to be lost on my elected officials.
My self-described “progressive” representative, Dwight Evans, refuses to co-sponsor the Green New Deal resolution, the only solution that rises to the scale of the crisis. Nancy Pelosi has derided it as a “Green Dream” and Senator Dianne Feinstein is on video claiming she won’t support it just because she doesn’t think it will get enough support in the Republican-controlled senate.
I’m striking because I feel like I have run out of ways to communicate to my elected officials; that climate inaction is violence; and that my life, air and future, and those of every other 17-year-old – every young person – is on the line.
Shout out to the snowy American midwest, where kids came out in Traverse City, Michigan and St. Paul, Minnesota.
Marches are also taking place across Canada, including in...
And in Montreal
For the first time Thursday, Coca-Cola revealed it produces 3 million tonnes of single-use plastic packaging per year, or the equivalent of 108bn 500 ml plastic bottles.
The same day tens of thousands of students came together to combat climate change and oil and gas dependence, international negotiators said the US thwarted pledges to reduce plastic pollution, “guided by the interests of the fracking and petrochemical industry.”
More from Reuters in Nairobi here:
Nations made their first global commitment towards curtailing the surging consumption of single-use plastics on Friday, but critics said it failed to confront the planet’s pollution crisis with the United States blocking efforts for more radical action.
Negotiators said most nations, including the European Union, at the UNEA backed stronger action suggested by India which wanted governments to commit to “phasing-out most problematic single-use plastic products by 2025”.
But a few countries led by the United States - and including Saudi Arabia and Cuba - played “spoiler” by watering down the text, replacing it with a commitment to “significantly reduce” single-use plastics by 2030, said negotiators and campaigners.
“The vast majority of countries came together to develop a vision for the future of global plastic governance,” said David Azoulay from the Center for International Environmental Law.
“Seeing the U.S., guided by the interests of the fracking and petrochemical industry, leading efforts to sabotage that vision is disheartening.”
Brian Doherty, a member of the U.S. delegation at the UNEA, told delegates there was a need to focus on waste management in countries which were major sources of marine plastic pollution, rather than focus on phasing out single use plastics.
“We support reducing the environmental impacts from the discharge of plastics, but we further note that the majority of marine plastic discharges comes from only six countries in Asia where improved waste management could radically decrease these discharges,” he said.
One million plastic drinks bottles are purchased every minute globally, while some 500 billion disposable plastic bags are used worldwide every year, said the United Nations.
Organizers now estimate 1 million people have gone on strike worldwide, to protest inaction on climate change.
Hundreds now look to be on the streets in Santiago, Chile.
Pictured below are students protesting outside Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office in San Francisco, California. Both Pelosi and her fellow Democratic lawmaker, US Senator Diane Feinstein, have been criticized by climate change protesters.
Angelika S is a 14-year-old activist from Oakland, California. She shared with the Guardian why these protests are important to her.
When I learned about climate change through the internet, it terrified me. This made me feel helpless and hopeless. This fear was kept in the back of my head until I was introduced to Warriors for Justice, a student-led club and No Coal in Oakland, which was a campaign opposing to a developer named Phil Tagami who’s building a coal terminal in West Oakland. This brought me relief because I was working for a cause and trying my best to create a change.
But this was the start of our battle. Climate change is real. Have you seen it snow in Hawaii and Los Angeles, places that are known to be hot? It’s so abnormal! Have you seen the wildfires from last year? We had to wear to wear masks to even step foot outside of our home because on how toxic the air was. This is the reality we’re living in.
Imagine the future for you, for me, the youth, your kids, your grandkids, and the animals roaming now. What will happen to all of them? Will they live up to the age of 30, without wearing a mask to go outside?
This is why we need to fight together, it’s not but for the youth but for our home, earth. This strike is to help stop climate change from turning into something disastrous – it’s not too late turn back. We’re asking for renewable energy and to stop using fossil fuels for daily needs. We must cooperate to save this earth, to have a future.
US Democratic presidential candidate and Senator from New York Kirsten Gillibrand “happened across” the local Youth Climate March while she was in Portsmouth, New Hampshire this morning.
“Why not – as Americans today – say we are going to have a green economy in the next 10 years? Not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard, as a measure of who we are, how great we are, our innovation, our excellence, our extraordinary ability to solve big problems. Why wouldn’t you try?
For those who say you can’t possible get to net zero emissions in 10 years, well you know what – John F Kennedy didn’t know he could put a man on the moon, but he tried.
So why wouldn’t you try!”
Just wanted to take a moment to share reader contributions we’ve received from all over the world.
Students in South East Junior High School in Iowa City, Iowa – in America’s corn belt – are protesting because “more than 60% of the energy for our school buildings is generated from coal-fired plants.” They called on school leaders to request bids for solar projects at their schools.
Physicians for Social Responsibility in Boston tweeted they are “In solidarity!” with the student climate strikers.
Twitter user Jenny Farmer in Jinja, Uganda sent us this great video of kids protesting there.
If you’re at a demonstration and want your pictures featured in this blog, please tweet them to @JessicaGlenza
UN secretary general calls for climate summit
Inspired by youth climate protesters, the United Nation’s Secretary General António Guterres writes for the Guardian that he will call a UN summit on the issue.
Tens of thousands of young people took to the streets on Friday with a clear message to world leaders: act now to save our planet and our future from the climate emergency.
These schoolchildren have grasped something that seems to elude many of their elders: we are in a race for our lives, and we are losing. The window of opportunity is closing – we no longer have the luxury of time, and climate delay is almost as dangerous as climate denial.
My generation has failed to respond properly to the dramatic challenge of climate change. This is deeply felt by young people. No wonder they are angry...
That is why I am bringing world leaders together at a climate action summit later this year. I am calling on all leaders to come to New York in September with concrete, realistic plans to enhance their nationally determined contributions by 2020, in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45% over the next decade, and to net zero by 2050.
Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien has sent a message of support for Youth Climate Strikes today:
Representative Ilhan Omar’s daughter, 16-year-old Isra Hirsi, took some time to speak with my colleague Adrian Horton. Here’s what she told us about the Youth Climate Strikes:
How did the strike come to be?
Climate strikes are happening all over the world, but I’m helping organize the one across the United States. I was contacted by one of the other co-founders, Haven Coleman, and she asked me if I wanted to help lead my state via Instagram DM... I got involved with them in late January and we’ve just been pulling state leads and talking to people ever since.”
What are you hoping comes out of the strike?
I’m hoping a lot of things. I just want that awareness and education — I want people to understand the intense emergency of climate change, and that young people aren’t really going to be backing down. And also I want folks to feel...threatened enough to take climate action.”
It’s now or never, you know? I don’t the specifics on why March 15th was chosen, but I do know that according to the IFCC report, we have about 11 years...and so we really have to act now, or we won’t have a future tomorrow.
What does the climate strike mean to your hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota?
We have really intense air pollution, especially north Minneapolis, we have a whole bunch of factories up there. And also in my home state we have a pipeline being built, Line 3, and it goes straight through indigenous greenland and wild rice beds. That pipeline isn’t going to just effect my state or my hometown, but it’s going to effect the entire country. So that’s tons and tons of oil being pumped into our ground; oil spills are a lot more prominent when they start drilling. [There’s also] things like the polar vortex, having extreme weather conditions in Minnesota.”
How are you balancing this with schoolwork and being a teenager?
Balancing is one of the hardest things. I’ve just been trying to go as fast as possible. I spend some days...over the weekend, I canceled calls for a while just so I could focus on homework. The end of the quarter for me is in about two weeks, so after March 15 it’s kind of go-time to quickly catch up before the end of the quarter. I’ve just been communicating with my parents and my teachers as much as possible, letting them know. They’re all aware.”
What’s an average day like in terms of planning?
I go to school, and then I answer emails throughout the day. And then I head over to my house. I have calls planned from about 4pm to 10pm, and I’ll be answering emails, and some time in there eat dinner and do homework.”
What do you hope the takeaway is for people, especially youth, not involved in the strike?
I would say that it’s your life too, in that climate change effects all of us. In that you can stay apathetic all you want, but as it gets worse and worse, it’s going to get worse and worse for you, too. It’s in the hands of all of us to take action.”
US Congresswoman – and her daughter – speak to activists
US Representative Ilhan Omar is speaking now at the climate strike in Washington DC. Her 16-year-old daughter, Isra Omar, helped organize the protests.
Omar is part of a wave of Democratic lawmakers who came into office in the midterm elections. She has proven to be a polarizing representative, but also an inspiring one for many young people who support the Green New Deal.
She told young protesters American’s should not, “prioritize corporate interests over the health of all our communities.”
“Yes, we are at a dark moment in our history, but we are the light that can bring change,” she said. Americans “must bear” responsibility for climate change because of the large share of carbon dioxide the west emits into the atmosphere.
“We must end the extraction of the dirtiest fossil fuel in the world and keep it in the ground,” she said.
From my colleague Adrian Horton, here’s an interview with Marcela Mulholland, a 21-year-old student organizer at University of Florida in Gainesville, where students are striking. They will join student activists from a local high school, who will protest in front of city hall.
You can read more about Mulholland and fellow organizers at the Sunrise Movement here.
It’s been really cool to work in conjunction with high schoolers and college students on this issue — it really speaks to how this is a generational issue. It’s going to effect young people the most, because we have to grow up on this planet. So yeah, there’s the strike happening during the day on University of Florida campus and then in the afternoon, there is one happening with high schoolers, college students and the Gainesville community at large.”
Why now? Why March 2019?
So a few months ago, the United Nations intergovernmental panel on climate change released a report that essentially sounded the alarm — they released it in 2018 and they said we had 12 years but now we have 11 years to drastically cut our greenhouse gas emissions if we want to avoid the most catastrophic global warming.
When that report came out – for me personally – I already believed in climate change and was very involved in the climate movement, but it was still a punch in the gut. To just see it in writing yet again, reiterated by the world’s leading climate scientists that we really are spiraling toward a catastrophic future that could end civilization as we know it if we don’t act within the next few years, that really for me... made me double down on my commitment to this movement.
What does this strike mean to your hometown?
I was born and raised in south Florida, and when I was in high school my family moved to Fort Lauderdale, which is a coastal community. We lived in an apartment building that was just two blocks away from the beach. When I was living there, I didn’t really know about global climate change, or sea level rise, or these kind of technical terms. I just knew that dealing with hurricanes was a regular part of my experience growing up.
I also started to notice that these weird things would happen, like the street in front of my house would flood when there were storms or even sometimes when it wasn’t raining. It’s interesting, because the people who lived in this community that’s going to be directly impacted by climate change, I don’t feel like we talked about it very much. We all just adapted to the circumstances — local businesses would have to put up sandbags, and people were becoming experts on the tidal patterns because it effected their everyday lives...and then I went to college and learned about climate change and saw my personal experiences in this global context. And then Trump was elected, which was a radicalizing experience, and here I am.”
What this strike and what this movement more broadly means for my hometown is that it gives us a sense of hope, that we don’t actually have to be facing 6-8 feet of flooding by the end of the century, that there are people who care about my community’s well-being and other community’s like mine, and [who] value our needs and our well-being over the interests of corporate polluters and fossil fuel billionaires and CEOs who have bought out our politicians. And so much of our communities on the front line of this crisis need is more renewable energy and a Green New Deal, but what we really need in more of a spiritual sense is hope, and this strike really provides that.”
Anything else you want people to know or wish I had asked?
If there are any young people who are reading this and also feel very overwhelmed and very sad about the trajectory that our planet is on right now, I would encourage them to choose to get involved with the climate movement because I have found that there’s no better way to find hope and meaning in this trying time than working alongside fellow people who share my grief for the world, and I would love to be in the movement along side them.”
The next wave of student strikes should be happening now in the central time zone, and we will feature those pictures here once they come in.
For the meantime, check out the Washington DC rally livestreamed here.
Once more from Washington DC, Guardian US climate reporter Emily Holden reports as students prepare for a 12pm ET rally, students are trickling in “from all directions”, to join the roughly 250 already present.
There was also a sweet moment while she was there – a 14-year-old girl celebrated her birthday at the Youth Climate Strikes. She said some of her teachers didn’t want her to be absent from class, but she felt the strike was too critical to miss.
“This is really important here because some of the most important people make the decisions here, and we really need influence them,” said Lili Moresi, 14, from Maryland.
And here are some more photos and videos of protests around the US.
Hey hey, ho ho, climate change has got to go!”
Providence, Rhode Island
City Hall, NYC
We’ve just got this dispatch from Emily Holden, Guardian US climate and environment reporter on the ground in Washington DC:
Student organizers striking for political leaders to combat climate change rallied in front of the US Capitol as part of international protests today.
With hand-painted signs reading “denial is not a policy,” and “fight now or swim l8r,” the youth as young as 12 years old demanded adults start cutting the heat-trapping pollutants from cars and power plants that they say threaten their future.
“It is time the world listens to these young people and pays attention to what we’re asking for,” said Maddy Fernands, the 16-year-old press director for the Youth Climate Strike US.
Some speakers stood on a plastic riser to reach the microphones on the podium.
Isra Harsi, a 16-year-old from Minneapolis and daughter of Democratic US Representative Ilhan Omar, said she became concerned about global warming after controversies about gas pipelines being built in her home state. She said she hopes the thousands upon thousands of students skipping school to protest will boost attention from adults.
More than a hundred students marched across Congress’ lawn chanting “What do we want? Climate action. When do we want it? Now.”
The students have demanded “radical legislation to combat climate change on local, state, and national levels,” adoption of “the Green New Deal to shift our country to 100% clean, renewable, and net-zero emission energy sources through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers,” and to “declare the climate crisis a national emergency.”
Thousands of students are gathering now... Here are some highlights from the east coast.
If we don’t take action, our world will not have a future... Hope is the only thing more powerful than fear.”
New York City
Stop denying the Earth is dying.”
Albany, New York
Climate change has got to go!”
For the next 11 minutes, the Guardian US homepage is dedicated to the global climate strike.
Climate strikes are kicking off now. First, here in New York City:
As strikes begin to kick off here in the US, here’s what we can expect through the morning:
- The Guardian US homepage becomes all about the climate for 11 minutes at 11am ET, as kids walk out of their classrooms.
- Waves of strikes will happen on the hour until we reach the west coast (three hours behind).
- Guardian US climate correspondent Emily Holden will report live from Washington DC on the climate strike happening there
- We will feature voices of students, like these, who told us why they think the climate strikes are so important.
- Here’s one of those students, Jordan McAuliff, aged 16, who lives in Silver Spring, Maryland:
When I feel overwhelmed by fear about the future, I fight it by remembering the climate crisis is a chance to create lasting justice, from overpowering greedy corporations to demanding change for people of color who are disproportionately impacted by environmental issues. Supporting the Green New Deal, which prioritizes the most at-risk people and provides alternatives to those corporations, helps me know I’m doing good, not just preventing bad.
Sign up to the Green Light email to get the planet’s most important stories.
Good morning from New York, and thanks for sticking with us everyone. In the US, we’re expecting the first student walkouts to begin at 11am ET. While we wait for that, here’s an excellent tweet American climate writer Bill McKibben brought to our attention.
I’m now handing over the blog to my colleague Jessica Glenza in New York, who will cover the strikes and reaction to them as they continue to happen. Thanks for your contributions and for following along.
According to the World Climate Risk index, the Philippines was the country fifth most affected by climate change since 1998 (behind Puerto Rico, Honduras, Myanmar and Haiti), with more than 300 events attributed to climate change in that time.
Protesters took to the streets today to demand more action.
Three generations of the Hancock family are in attendance at the Sheffield strike. One-year-old Josie may be the youngest protester here, sat on her father’s shoulders for a view of the speeches, and her parents emphasise the importance of showing solidarity for younger generations.
Josie’s mother, Vic Hancock, says, “it’s terrifying to think about the future now – it almost feels selfish to bring kids into this world if we can’t change what we’re doing to the planet, so this is why we must protest and why we must set the example for our daughter.” Grandmother Julia Fell adds, with tears in her eyes, “I’m finding it really moving to see all these young people sticking up for what’s important, it’s so inspiring and we’re here to show our support, to say to these young people that they’re not alone in this.”
14-year-old Patrick Wakefield has traveled from High Storrs School with his mother Lucinda to lead the protests. “Profit is being put in the way of change,” he says, his voice rising, “to the parents that are saying their children can’t come to these protests, it’s unforgivable – we will have to deal with the consequences of climate change, not them, and we need to stop it.” He continues, “we’re in the midst of a climate crisis, the sixth mass extinction, and yet the government and world leaders are doing nothing about it.”
14-year-old Edie Elliott is also speaking at today’s event. “The number of young people here today proves this isn’t going to go away,” she says, “the fact that we’re wiling to miss something as important as school – which I don’t want to fail by the way – just shows you how important climate change is to us too.”
Natasha, 14, says that “at school we’re not taught about climate change properly – all we hear is how it’s a crisis and there’s nothing we can do about it, but we can, we must. It’s so frustrating we have to miss school but if that’s what it takes, we’re willing.”
17-year-old Adam Arfield is one of the few sixth form students in attendance. “It’s so frustrating that the government is doing nothing about climate change,” he says, “I now have to miss school right when exams are happening and I even heard that some of the kids at the primary schools would be fined if they went on strike or given punishments. That’s an infringement of free speech in my opinion.”
A Swedish group from a school on Öckerö, an island on the archipelago, say they did a class assignment on Greta Thunberg, Sweden’s 16-year-old climate activist who has now become a world-famous figure. As a result, they were inspired to organise today’s protest, in defiance of their headmaster.
“Swedes fly five times more than the global average,” said Clara Sahlsten, 15. “We consume too much, we are part of the problem.”
Prime minister Stefan Löfven yesterday pledged to “work hard” to meet striking students’ demands.
“I think it is extremely good that initiatives are taken to raise the climate issue,” he said. “It must be higher on the agenda and these young people are really passionate about this … I want a people’s movement for climate change, and here we are on our way.”
Young climate activists asked the leaders of five major British political parties to outline their plans for climate change.
The Conservative party declined to respond, but you can read Jeremy Corbyn, Vince Cable, Nicola Sturgeon and Siân Berry’s responses here:
Schoolchildren have marched through central Reykjavik before congregating at the Hallgrimskirkja cathedral that looms above the city. While other nations are threatened by sea level rise, Iceland is actually growing as a result of climate change. A study four years ago found the country was rising by about 1.4 inches a year as ice caps melt – but warned that the geological changes could be accompanied by more volcanic eruptions.
The size of the London crowd and the spontaneous route taken by the children – first past Downing Street and then down The Mall to Buckingham Palace – seemed to take police by surprise. Officers scrambled to prevent the youngsters, who were chanting “we want change”, reaching the Queen’s residence but the crowd was too big.
Outside the Palace the protesters set up an impromptu sound system and continued to demand urgent action. At one point a cheer went up from the crowd as an elderly figure could be seen looking out from behind the net curtain in a second floor window. After half an hour the strikers set off again, this time staging a sit down protest in Whitehall before heading back to Parliament Square.
The strikers then blocked all the roads leading onto Trafalgar Square, bringing widespread disruption to central London.
Holding their handmade sign that reads “Mum gonna kill me for being here but not before climate change”, 17-year-olds Erin and Ailsa have come to the Scottish parliament with about 20 other pupils from their high school 10 miles out of the city.
“It’s our future and if we don’t stand up then who will?” asks Erin.
“I want politicians to stop treating us like silly little kids”, says Ailsa. “A lot of adults don’t take this seriously”.
Both are surprised at the numbers of school strikers who have assembled outside the Holyrood parliament to chant and wave colourful placards in the typically Scottish weather of sunshine and cold showers.
Police estimate there are about 2,000 young people here, in good spirits and eager to explain their reasons for being here.
16-year-old Ben Hickman from Trinity Academy to the north of the city says: “It’s a big problem because people take the planet for granted and don’t know what’s actually happening.”
He says most of his information about the strike has come from social media. “A lot of people have been talking about it this week but I’m still surprised to see so many of them here.”
Sophie Sleeman has written an opinion piece on the power of the student strikes.
In ant colonies, large populations are sustained through the interactions between individual ants. There is little centralised authority in the most resilient colonies. On social media, teenagers have also been swept up in self-organisation, spreading their message from group to group, country to country, with the only central authority being the collective fear we all share.
Read the full piece here:
Students have been protesting outside the energy ministry in Kiev. According to the Climate Action Tracker, Ukraine’s policies to tackle climate change are “critically insufficient” to help keep warming within 2C above pre-industrial levels.
“From following the Pied Piper into a medieval forest to sailing off with Pinocchio to Pleasure Island to shoplifting candy from Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, children tend to make bad choices, which is why we don’t let them run things,” says Paul Tice, one of the people not cheering on the young people striking for climate action today.
In an opinion article for The Wall Street Journal, Tice, an investment manager and professor of finance at New York University, says: “In the summer of 1212, thousands of divinely inspired young people from across Catholic France and Germany took off to liberate Jerusalem from the Muslims. None made it to the Holy Land. Many died along the way or were sold into slavery. The Children’s Crusade was a disaster. Yet environmental activists and politicians are adopting the same ‘a child shall lead them’ strategy to push their climate change agenda.”
The opinion pages of the WSJ are of course no stranger to the denial of the dangers of global warming, and Tice does not disappoint: “Anthropogenic global warming is a highly politicised, scientifically complex issue that still requires debate despite the purported consensus.”
But the youth strikers appear to have scientists on their side. More than 23,000 German, Austrian and Swiss scientists have signed a statement concluding: “Only by acting swiftly and consistently can we limit global warming, stop the mass extinction of plant and animal species, preserve the natural foundations of life, and create a liveable future for present and future generations. This is exactly what the young people want to achieve from Fridays for Future. They deserve our respect and our full support.”
Poland is one of Europe’s biggest polluters, largely because of its reliance on coal-fired power stations. During the COP24 conference it hosted last year in Katowice, in the country’s mining heartland, president Andrzej Duda said the country had 200 years’ worth of coal reserves and “it will be hard not to use them.”
However, cities across the country have seen enormous turnouts of striking students, from Warsaw to Krakow to Katowice.
Hundreds of school students have gathered in Stockholm’s central square, most of them inspired by local girl Greta Thunberg, 16, who started her school strike last summer outside Sweden’s parliament.
Since then her single-minded determination has inspired millions around the world, and earned a nomination this week for the Nobel peace prize.
When Greta appeared before the crowd a few minutes ago, they started chanting “GRETA, GRETA, GRETA”.
“We have been born into this world and we have to live with this crisis, and our children and our grandchildren,” she said to applause and cheers.
“We are facing the greatest existential crisis humanity has ever faced. And yet it has been ignored. You who have ignored it know who you are.”
School students are taking action today in 114 Swedish towns and cities, according to local media.
Trainee journalist Emma Elgee is in Cardiff, where about 600 people are marching on the Senedd, home to the National Assembly.
Beth Irving, 17, tells her: “We need action from the government. We can’t wait any longer, we are running out of time. This issue should have been the defining issue of the generation before us but instead it’s up to us to make sure it doesn’t become the issue for future generations.”
From Denmark to the Philippines, students have been telling us why today is so important.
Anna Raadshøj, 18, from Vejle in Denmark said we must act now: “We’re singing songs together, marching together and writing letters to the Danish government. We can’t wait 30 years in the future before we take action against climate change. The future is now and therefore we must act now.
“The movement feels like a big step in the right direction. Climate change is something we must overcome together globally. I just wish the politicians would listen to us kids, teenagers and young people more.”
Further away in Bukidnon, Philippines, 18-year-old Vanessa Flores wants to be a part of the global movement demanding action: “I am the child of a farmer here in the uplands of Bukidnon and we are experiencing the impact of climate change through unpredictable weather that results in damaged crops and food insecurity for our community.
“Students and teachers of the Apu Palamguwan Cultural Education Center will be doing the 12km walk down the mountain in solidarity with other schools who will be striking. I think the movement is very inspiring and gives us young people a voice in the ongoing discussions on climate change.”
Elena D’Onofrio, 17, in Florence, Italy feels good about all the people taking part today: “The world is falling apart and we’re the only generation that’s going to be affected by it, so we need to get our governments and politicians to listen. I’ll be joining the Fridays for Future Firenze organisation which has planned a strike around the city.
“I love that there’s finally a lot more participation and that we are supported by important people such as American congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. People are starting to realise the importance of our planet and the very little time we have left to save it.”
Switzerland is another country that has seen large numbers of students striking for several months now, and thousands of students have turned out to protest today.
Climate change is already highly visible in Switzerland – its glaciers are receding several metres every year, while melting snow means new infrastructure must be built for climbers and skiers.
By 10.30am a steady stream of schoolchildren were pouring into London’s Parliament Square brandishing homemade banners declaring “coral not coal”, “Stop denying the earth is dying” and “why the actual fuck are we studying for a future we won’t even have?”
Among were a group of 12 and 13 year old girls from Waldergrave School for girls. Lourdes, 13, who was with her dad Leif Cid said they felt they had no choice but to come. “The world is getting hotter and hotter but the adults, the politicians aren’t doing anything about it … we have to do something.”
Another group of students had travelled up from Kent. “We are all scared – scared and angry that nothing is being done,” said Casey 17. “This crisis is not being discussed nearly as much as it should be … we want it in the headlines every day we want it everywhere.”
Will Joseph Cook, 21, said the action this generation took would have ramifications for centuries to come. “It can be kind of scary to realise what’s at stake and the small window we have in which to act – but at the same time you can see that lots of people care deeply about this and are prepared to act.”
By 11am a couple of thousand young people had gathered on the grass opposite Parliament chanting “Climate change has got to go.”
A big crowd, several thousand strong, has now gathered in central London and is making its way up Whitehall, blocking traffic and chanting “climate justice now!”
“There is nothing being done and things are going to poo,” said Kadijah, 17. “In 10 years it will be too late … We are scared.”
10 years ago, the film The Age of Stupid imagined the inhabitants of the world of 2055 asking: “Why didn’t we save ourselves when we had the chance?”
This new short documentary by the Guardian revisits the influential film and some of its participants, looking at why those in power have not done enough in the last decade. It examines whether the climate strikers are finally a sign of hope, and asks if we are still on track for the catastrophic future the film foretold.
Protesters in Düsseldorf, Germany, created a giant Greta Thunberg carnival float for the Rose Monday celebrations on 4 March, and have wheeled her out again today. The text reads “Now do something about the climate catastrophe.”
Students across Spain are joining the strike, with the biggest demos beginning in Madrid and Barcelona at midday. About 45 rallies involving young people from towns and cities around Spain are scheduled to take place today.
Young People for Climate, the apolitical group that has led today’s action, says it had felt compelled to join the global push for action and was prepared to sit down with politicians of any stripe to discuss the issue.
“Most of the politicians we have right now won’t be alive in 50 years’ time, but we will, and we can’t rely on their interests and commitments,” one of the founders, Lucas Barrero, told the Europa Press news agency.
Spain’s minister for ecological transition, Teresa Ribera, tweeted her support for the strike on Thursday night, writing: “For your children, for the people you love, for the planet you love … express yourself, act, demand and support [it].
The UK environment secretary, Michael Gove, has praised the youth strikes for climate in a video message with other Conservative MPs.
“Collective action of the kind you’re championing can make a difference, and a profound one,” said Gove. “Together we can beat climate change.”
“It will require us to change the way in which our energy is generated, change the way in which our homes are built, change the way in which our land is managed and farming operates,” he said. “But that change is absolutely necessary.”
Rebecca Pow MP said: “Your passion is an inspiration.”
This contrasts with comments from prime minister Theresa May’s official spokesman after the 15 February strikes, who said: “Disruption increases teacher’s workloads and wastes lesson time that teachers have carefully prepared for.”
Hundreds of children have converged on the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh to protest.
There is also a protest taking place outside Glasgow’s City Chambers and elsewhere around Scotland, including: Fenwick, East Kilbride, Coatbridge, Stirling, Inverkeithing, Peebles, Fort William, Forres, St Andrews, Inverness, Ullapool, South Uist, Aberdeen, Aberdour, Kirkwall and Eigg
The writer and environmentalist George Monbiot and representatives of the UK Student Climate Network are currently taking part in a Q&A about the strikes.
Join in here:
Students in Nicosia have been joining the protests.
Young Leo may have captured this young woman’s heart – but she may also be pleased with Old Leo, who has become a bit of an environmental activist and tweeted in support of the school strikers last week:
Kumi Naidoo, the secretary-general of Amnesty International who as a youth protested against apartheid in South Africa, has written about the similarities in the movements.
Those who lived under apartheid know exactly what it means to live with an inherent threat to your existence. But rather than give in to the fear that it was too big to take on, we had no choice but to trust in the power of our individual actions. There are many lessons here for the climate change movement.
Read more here:
Cat Smith, the UK Labour party’s shadow youth minister, has welcomed the strikes:
Labour stands in solidarity with young people across the UK who are taking a stand over the government’s shameful lack of leadership on climate change.
Today’s strike demonstrates that young people care deeply about environmental issues and will use their collective power to bring about meaningful change. This should serve as a wakeup call to the political establishment that young people’s views can no longer be ignored, and urgent action is needed to tackle the escalating ecological crisis.
Germany is among the countries that have seen the most widespread protests to date, and today is no exception. Thousands of students are striking in cities across the country, despite inclement weather.
In Belgium and France, some trade unions are planning worker strikes in solidarity with the students.
Yesterday Gina Heyrman of the Belgian socialist union ABVV-FGTB drew a comparison between today’s action and the nationwide French strikes of May 1968, which were also sparked by student protests.
She told my colleague Arthur Neslen: “This is the first time we have had a political strike together with young people. Maybe we’re at the beginning of a new era. I hope so. Everyone talks about the climate now. Everyone is aware of it, thanks to the students.”
In Paris’s financial district, La Defense, students have blocked the headquarters of the bank Société Générale.
Young people demanding climate justice marched through Tokyo’s famous Shibuya scramble crossing as part of the climate strike today. About 130 people – including school and university students and other supporters – joined in the march, which started at the United Nations University and wound its way through Tokyo streets including the busy Omotesando shopping street.
One of the organisers, Ten Maekawa, 20, led the crowd in chants of “What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!” Maekawa told the Guardian afterwards that he was happy with the turnout, as numbers had increased since the last time they did a similar march in Tokyo.
He explained why he believed it was important for youth to mobilise on this issue: “In 2030, the earth will be in danger because of climate change. They’re responsible for the future, so it’s very important for the young generation to speak up about climate change.”
He hopes to organise another rally soon and build on those efforts.
A panel of strikers from all over the world have told us why they’re taking action today. Here are a selection of their reasons:
Over time, as the torrential rains became more and more frequent, and led to floods, I saw the balance of nature change
I don’t want to live in a mask for the rest of my life
There were no rains on our farm last year so we couldn’t cultivate any crops
Read the full piece here:
Nepal, the second highest country in the world behind Bhutan, has seen glaciers receding and floods increasing as a result of climate change. Students there have been on strike demanding action.
Hundreds of students have gathered outside Helsinki’s cathedral to protest
Meanwhile in Oulu, close to the Arctic Circle, a similar but smaller protest is taking place.
Italy has 235 school strikes planned, more than any other country. Images are beginning to come in of events there.
More pictures are coming in from the strikes in Hong Kong.
Young readers across the UK have been getting in touch to tell us why they’re taking part in the strikes today.
Michelle Huang, 17, from Altrincham, will be travelling to Manchester: “I think it is important that the younger generations like myself come together to speak out on environmental issues – especially those that aren’t seen as important by many governments. It’s also a chance to make a statement against those who do not believe climate change is happening. I definitely think the movement will raise more awareness.”
In Hertfordshire, 18-year-old Carrie Sear feels the climate strike movement is necessary and will be travelling to London to protest in Parliament Square: “I believe there is power in large groups of people; there always has been and there always will be. The individual is not doing anything right now because they do not understand the implications of their actions. More significantly, the government is not doing anything right now because it is scared of upsetting the larger culprits: companies that mass produce, that emit masses of methane and C02, that let pesticides, dye and oil to enter into rivers, and that use tonnes of plastic waste every minute.
“I think that children are doing the work that adults feel they can seperate themselves from because they have short term commitments to excuse them from acting on long term issues. I aim to show them that they should stop being afraid of these large companies and start being afraid of us. Then change will start to happen.”
Daisy Cooper, 17, from Guisborough, will be at her local town hall because she feels that not enough is being done: “I’m studying for my A-levels at the moment but it seems pointless because there’ll be no future if action isn’t taken now. I’ll be able to vote when the next election rolls around – but younger ages won’t be and it’s not fair on them.
“I might be from a small town but despite that, it’s so important to be visible and get our voices out there, being heard locally and nationally. I feel as if my future isn’t cared about by those in power, who seem to only care about the here and now. We want a nice future – and this won’t happen unless those in power listen to us, so striking is necessary because so many young people can’t vote yet.”
Wherever you are in the world, if you’d like to share your story, please get in touch here.
The American writer Rebecca Solnit has praised the school strikers, thanking them for taking action and urging them to continue.
They will tell you the rules are that those we see in the news and the parliaments and boardrooms hold all the power and you must be nice to them and perhaps they will give you crumbs, or the time of day, or just a door slammed in your face. They will tell you that things can only change in tiny increments by predictable means. They’re wrong.
Read her full piece here:
Mauritius is expected to be one of the countries hit hardest by climate change, due to a combination of sea level rises, increased flooding and more extreme weather. Students there have been marching in protest today.
According to the records kept by the Fridays For Future group, the number of countries and territories participating in the strikes today has reached 123, spanning more than 2,000 separate towns and cities.
Students in Johannesburg have joined the demonstrations
The Guardian’s opinion section is being partially guest edited by some of the leaders of the school strike movement today. As part of this, they’ve written a piece outlining the reasons they are taking action.
These strikes are happening today – from Washington DC to Moscow, Tromsø to Invercargill, Beirut to Jerusalem, and Shanghai to Mumbai – because politicians have failed us. We’ve seen years of negotiations, pathetic deals on climate change, fossil fuel companies being given free rein to carve open our lands, drill beneath our soils and burn away our futures for their profit. We’ve seen fracking, deep sea drilling and coalmining continue. Politicians have known the truth about climate change and they’ve willingly handed over our future to profiteers whose search for quick cash threatens our very existence.
This movement had to happen, we didn’t have a choice.
You can read the rest of the piece here:
Greta Thunberg, the Swedish schoolgirl who started the movement last year when she went on strike alone, is now in her 30th week of action.
It was revealed yesterday that she is one of 301 nominees for the Nobel peace prize this year. She spoke to my colleague Jonathan Watts earlier this week about her motivation and how she inadvertently started a global movement.
“I painted the sign on a piece of wood and, for the flyers, wrote down some facts I thought everyone should know. And then I took my bike to the parliament and just sat there,” she recalls. “The first day, I sat alone from about 8.30am to 3pm – the regular schoolday. And then on the second day, people started joining me. After that, there were people there all the time.”
We’d like you to show us the youth climate strikes where you are - share your pictures, videos and stories and we’ll add them to the live blog. You can get in touch by filling in the form here, or by contacting the Guardian via WhatsApp by adding the contact +44(0)7867825056. If you’re under 16 you’ll need to get your parents’ permission before you send a response to us. We will get in touch to confirm this with you. You can read terms of service here.
I will now be handing over to my colleague Alan Evans in London who will be following the marches and strikes as they kick off across the globe
And here’s students of Seoul in South Korea who also took to the streets
Some of the youngest citizens of Allahabad in India are making their voices heard
Students are now taking to the streets of Delhi in their droves
More than 70 people, including school and university students and their supporters, have gathered outside the United Nations University in Tokyo as part of the global climate strike.
Young children held signs saying “Climate Justice” and “Act Now”. One of the slightly older members of the rally carried a placard declaring on behalf of millennials: “We will never never never give up our beautiful planet, by millennials”.
They are due to begin a march through Tokyo’s Shibuya district shortly.
Over 100 children from Apu Palamguwan Cultural Education Center, an indigenous upland school in northern Mindanao in the Philippines, joined the #SchoolStrike4Climate today. They braved a 12-kilometre walk on mountain terrain to the next village down the valley to meet up with other students in the neighbouring school.
The young islanders of Vanuatu have also been out in force today
And now things are happening in India. Here are some very fired up school children in Hyderabad:
An incredible photo from the Sydney march, where around 30,000 people took to the streets – one of the biggest turnouts globally so far:
In Japan, preparations are already under way for marches which will happen in Tokyo and Kyoto this afternoon.
The grade one students of Nagoya international school marked the beginning of the day of strikes with a rendition of What Kind of World Are We Trying to Make
There will be nine climate change marches across the Philippines today. Students in General Santos City are kicking things off:
And Australian divers in the Philippines have even taken the campaign under the sea
And with that, I’ll be handing over to my colleague Hannah Ellis-Petersen who will be covering the strikes as they occur across Asia. Thanks for following along.
Today’s strike in WA also comes after the state’s Department of Education confirmed to Guardian Australia it had “automatically” blocked all access to schoolstrike4climate.com – the movement’s main organising site.
All public schools in WA had been blocked from accessing the site on school computers or internet, and screenshots showed the site was classed as an “advocacy organisation”.
A spokeswoman told Guardian Australia earlier this week it was “not a deliberate action”.
“The department has automated web-filtering tools and this site has been filtered automatically.”
But other similar advocacy organisations, such as Greenpeace or the Australian Youth Climate Council, were not blocked and can be accessed by students.
The spokeswoman said there were no current plans to remove the block.
“The filters are across the whole of the department, not individual schools. The department hasn’t received any requests from schools to remove the filter for this site. There’s nothing to stop students from viewing it from home or on their personal devices.”
Strike under way in Darwin in the Northern Territory.
A big crowd and a beautiful bird in Brisbane
The protests are now in full flow in Perth, Western Australia and Brisbane in Queensland.
Students are now out and protesting on the streets of Hong Kong.
Elisa, also told the South China Morning Post: “I feel like this is the way to make change.”
Another student adds: “It’s a permanent issue that could mess up our world in the future.”
The crowd at Sydney’s Town Hall Square spilled out into George and Bathurst streets, thousands gathering to push for action on climate change.
As a giant inflatable Earth was knocked around the square, chants of “Hey hey, ho ho, Adani’s mine has got to go” and “Climate action now” reverberated through the city.
Angela Clark attended the protest with her daughter, Analise Hoatson, 14, from Cammeray high school. She didn’t share the concern of commentators who had criticised the students missing school.
“I couldn’t be more proud,” she told Guardian Australia. “Honestly, I don’t understand it. What could be more important?”
Analise agreed: “It’s just so important for the rest of the Earth’s life,” she said.
Jack Howard, 18, and Joseph Naffah, 15, from the Glenaeon Steiner school in Middle Cove, both said they felt ignored by politicians.
“What we’re doing is showing that we are aware of a lot of climate issues that it seems the people in power are trying to hide from us,” Howard said.
“Politicians absolutely do not care about us,” Naffah agreed. “The government is saying these children don’t understand what they’re doing. Really, we’re being educated.”
In Wagga Wagga, Guardian Australia columnist Van Badham has this:
Climate is actually a much bigger issue in Michael McCormack’s own seat of Riverina (Wagga Wagga) than he would really like it to be. Climate issues have dominated the candidate debates held here for the NSW state election. You can’t bullshit farmers about climate change.
A mixture of striking school and university students today marched up and down Wagga’s main Bayliss Street chanting “Wake up, Wagga!” to cheers and hoots from the public (which I think was a bit of a surprise to the kids). As they hadn’t had an official action planned before today, they pulled together a replication of Wilcox’s cartoon.
A round up of what’s happened today:
- At least 20,000 people rallied in Melbourne alone, with tens of thousands in the capital cities of Sydney, Adelaide, Canberra and Hobart.
- New Zealand began the day’s global movement, with thousands in Wellington and Auckland.
- NZ prime minister Jacinda Ardern went to a rally in support but Australia’s education minister, Dan Tehan; Queensland’s premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk; and Tasmania’s premier, Will Hodgman, said children should have protested outside of school hours.
- Protesters in Christchurch were evacuated as a precaution after a shooting occurred in a mosque in the city.
Footage of strikers in Sydney leaving a voicemail for Bill Shorten:
“Bill, will you be our climate leader?” the crowd shout.
And read this from Hugh Hunter in Gunnedah about his decision to strike.
And in 20 minutes, strikes will begin in Brisbane and Perth.
It’s lunchtime, so here’s a round-up of Australia’s cartoonists’ views of the strikes.
In Wagga Wagga, students have in fact recreated a Cathy Wilcox cartoon:
And of course, Guardian Australia’s own First Dog on the Moon:
It’s almost impossible to estimate the number of students here – thousands, easily.
We’ve heard speeches from strike organisers, Pacific nations students and young people who say they are fed up.
A lot of the chants today have focused on the Morrison government’s inaction on climate policy, but Labor hasn’t been spared either. They want change from all parties at all levels of government. Notably, not a single political leader has make a speech here in Melbourne today. Students dialled into Bill Shorten’s office but had to leave a message.
Now, they’re about to march down Collins Street, students at the front, on their way to Treasury Gardens. “Climate action, now,” they chant.
Students are protesting in Thailand now, with signs like “my grandma didn’t need plastic”.
Students are reading out messages that other students have sent them.
“How would you feel if you went to school one day and came back and your house was burned down for gas or wood?” a speaker says. “It’s all for money and in the end we can’t buy our Earth back.”
Another message: “We can do something now, not just in the future – now.”
In Melbourne, the students are now marching, and in Sydney they’re planning to head off soon. Coming soon, my colleagues Lisa Cox and Michael McGowan will have short dispatches of how it was on the ground.
Danielle, a student from western Sydney, tells the crowd, “this right here, this right now is what democracy looks like”.
And here’s what that looks like:
Students at the Melbourne strike have just dialled into the Labor leader Bill Shorten’s office.
They’ve told the crowd they’re calling him because he hasn’t done enough to shift Labor’s climate policy toward decarbonisation. They ask to speak to Shorten but he isn’t available. So they leave a message.
“We are people of all ages striking today ... We’re asking Bill to step up,” they say. They then list the three demands of the strikers: 100% renewable energy by 2030, no new coal or gas and stopping the Adani coalmine.
And now the attention is turning to the politicians.
In Melbourne, they’re ringing Bill Shorten’s office. In Newcastle, they are marching to the offices of local MPs.
Organisers in Melbourne estimate the attendance today is 20,000 to 35,000.
No figures yet for Sydney, but Australian legend Jimmy Barnes is there.
In Sydney, Indigenous students from the town of Walgett – where a millenia-old river is running dry – spoke about the impact of climate change on the water supply.
“On the good days, everyone could go down to the river and fish, and make memories,” one of the students says. “Our people have been doing this for a very long time – 65,000 years ... with climate change, water supply will get worse.”
Melbourne and Sydney are both hearing speeches from Indigenous and Pacific nations students.
In Melbourne, Logan, Elijah and Pearl are representing the Pacific Climate Warriors.
“Will you help us raise our voices and elevate the people in the Pacific,” they chant. “We’re not drowning we are fighting ... Our people will keep fighting for the right to stand up.
“We will not drown. We will continue to fight.”
The shooting incident in Christchurch is being blogged here.
Some breaking news, there has been a reported shooting at a mosque in Christchurch. As a precaution, striking children have been evacuated from Cathedral Square. We will be starting a separate liveblog shortly with further details of the shooting.
Milou, Harriet and Callum from Castlemaine who started the Australian school strike following protests by Greta Thunberg in Sweden are speaking in Melbourne.
“Australia is even more vulnerable to climate impacts then Sweden,” Milou says. “So we knew we needed climate action as well.”
Harriet says she is tired of people telling her to think about her blessings, because the things she loves are all of the species in the natural world.
“When I think about my blessings it just makes me want to cry,” she says. “Losing those things is the scariest and most heartbreaking thing I could possibly think of.
“We will fight this climate emergency and we will win.”
Sydney’s Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, is speaking now.
“I support your strike as an elected representative,” she says. “I support your strike as a former teacher.
“Your generation is the least responsible for accelerating global warming. But your generation and successive generations will be the ones who have to deal with the impacts of global warming.
“You are concerned, you are fearful and you are angry. You watch on your screens all the dead fish in our river system, the drought in NSW, the flood in Queensland, the horrific fires in Tasmania.”
Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, Australia
It’s always hard to convey scale in a liveblog like this, with only static photos, cramped angles and the footage of a phone camera to relay what’s on the ground.
But thousands of students in Australia’s largest cities are out, closing the streets, mobbing the parliaments, chanting for a stop to new coal plants and for something to be done.
In the drizzle in Sydney they have packed the forecourt of the city’s town hall. In Melbourne, it’s like sardines. There were thousands last year, and the numbers have grown.
Earlier, they were spilling off the steps of Adelaide’s state parliament, and gathering in Hobart.
In Sydney, Warringah student Vivienne told the crowd she was “terrified” of climate change.
“We have a message for politicians: if you care about us and the billions of young people living on this planet, you need to work with us.”
In Canberra, the nation’s capital, they chanted, “the youth are rising, no more compromising”.
New favourite sign – at Sydney’s Town Hall:
Minutes away from the scheduled start in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Hobart now.
Best sign so far in my opinion:
Students in Sydney are chanting:
And in Newcastle:
This one is for the Sydney fans of Carly Rae Jepsen’s 2012 hit Call Me Maybe:
Huge crowd in Sydney:
In Melbourne, Lisa Cox tells me “it’s like sardines here”.
Greens MP Adam Bandt is on his way:
In Adelaide, they’re running out of room:
There’s a huge crowd at Old Treasury in Melbourne already, half an hour before the strike officially gets under way. Students are holding brightly coloured signs directed squarely at Australia’s political leaders and chanting “ScoMo’s got to go”.
One sign features pictures of Scott Morrison, Bill Shorten, Tony Abbott and Pauline Hanson, and declares simply “fossil fools”.
Aiden, 15, from Templestow College, said he came because “climate science is really important”.
“Politicians don’t seem to be acknowledging that it’s an emergency. If they don’t step up and do something, we’re not going to have a liveable planet. They might be dead by then but everyone else here wouldn’t like to be.”
Great sign from Adelaide:
Adelaide’s protest has just begun:
Earlier, I spoke to 17-year-old Doha Khan, one of the organisers in Adelaide. “We are now getting a hundred responses a day,” she said.
Here’s the view from Auckland:
And fantastic footage from Nelson College on the south island:
Meanwhile, former prime minister Kevin Rudd has expressed support:
As has former UK Labour leader Ed Miliband:
A fuller version from Bill Shorten’s quote yesterday about protesting on weekends: “In an ideal world, they would protest after school hours or on weekends but it’s a bit rich of the government to lecture school kids for going on strike on climate.”
Some say that in context, this is not “telling” students to protest on weekends. You can make your minds up.
Students are starting to arrive for the protests in Sydney and Melbourne – scheduled to both start at midday (local time).
Here are a few maps of the strikes in NSW, Victoria and Queensland. More here.
Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister, has spoken at a student strike at Puke Ariki in New Plymouth on the north island.
Meanwhile the Tasmanian premier, Will Hodgman, echoes his Australian counterparts and says children should be in school today.
On Sydney’s 2GB radio this morning, 64-year-old host Steve Price debated 14-year-old Ambrose Hayes about the demands of the strikers, asking if he had been “conned by teachers”.
“The Adani mine is obviously going to employ more than 20,000 workers in construction and then steady employment thereafter,” Price said. “If you had 100% renewables by 2030, that would wreck the economy, Ambrose.”
“Renewables will employ a lot of people ... The Great Barrier Reef also has many jobs,” said Hayes. “And the Great Barrier Reef is dying.”
Price: “The Great Barrier Reef is actually in really good condition. It has regenerated itself over the last two or three years. There’s nothing wrong with the Great Barrier Reef ... There is natural coral bleaching due to water temperatures. It comes and goes.”
Price said Hayes is obviously intelligent but maybe he has been fed misinformation by teachers.
Hayes said no. “The world’s leading scientists all say we need to do something about it.”
Footage from Coffs Harbour:
And more great signs out of New Zealand:
On Thursday, the federal Labor leader, Bill Shorten, also told students to protest on the weekend rather than a school day. But on Wednesday, the NSW Labor leader, Michael Daley, who is gearing up for the state election on 23 March, told students he supported them.
Queensland’s premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, has also told the striking students they should have protested on a weekend. Earlier, the federal education minister, Dan Tehan, said something similar.
Here’s Lismore in NSW:
For a counterpoint, mining company Adani has released a message to the striking students today. Opposing Adani’s proposed Carmichael coalmine in Queensland is one of the strikers’ three demands.
Advocacy group GetUp! are critical.
Geelong, Cairns and Townsville, Australia
More of Australia’s strikes are now under way.
From Geelong in Victoria:
To Cairns and Townsville in northern Queensland:
Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay, Gosford and Lismore in New South Wales are also scheduled to start around now.
Here’s footage of the protest in Dunedin, on New Zealand’s south island:
Earlier, the partner of the prime minister, Jacinda Arden, Clarke Gayford, told students to “get bloody stuck in ... Wear any punishment like a badge of honour.”
Reminder that if you’re at a protest, you can share your thoughts, photos and videos with the Guardian’s worldwide social team. You can be featured on the Guardian’s Instagram stories, or communicate via Whatsapp if you add the contact +44 (0)7495 849 246. Further rules here – where you can also write a message on our online form. If you’re under 16 you’ll need to get your parents’ permission.
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Hmm ... don’t show Dan Tehan this.
Former Liberal MP – now an independent – Julia Banks says she supports the strike.
“I’m so proud that there are students participating in this march today,” she says.
James Shaw, the joint leader of the New Zealand Greens who was assaulted yesterday on his way to parliament, has come out in support for the strikers, still sporting a black eye.
Shaw is also New Zealand’s climate change minister. He has thanked a pair of bystanders who came to his help, and says, “I’m OK. I’m back at work and I’m very much looking forward to today’s school strike for climate.”
Wellington, New Zealand
The protests have already begun in Wellington, New Zealand. The crowd is big, the streets are blocked and we’ve already seen a contender for best sign.
Australia’s education minister, Dan Tehan, has told striking students they should protest “after school”.
“[For] other action on issues that they think is important, they should do after school or on weekends,” he just told media in Melbourne. “No one is going to stop them from doing that. What our message is loud and clear today to all students, ‘be in school, join the National Action Day Against Bullying’.”
A reporter asks: “Can’t they do both? Is one afternoon off really going to harm their education?”
Tehan: “Students leaving school during school hours to protest is not something that we should encourage. Especially when they are being encouraged to do so by green political activists. They should be encouraging students to stay at school.”
The strikes begin
Good morning everyone. Today, across Australia, New Zealand and then the world tens of thousands of young people are taking to the streets, protesting against inaction on climate change and the destruction of their future.
Last year, they brought Australia’s cities to a stop. In Sydney’s Martin Place, the noise echoed off the walls. This time it’s global. Part of a worldwide movement, variously known as #climatestrike, #schoolstrike4climate or #FridaysforFuture, there are over 1,500 strikes planned today across 100 countries.
I’ll be here covering the strikes for the Australian and Asian timezones – from Geelong to Jakarta, however long it takes. New Zealand has already started.
I’ll be keeping you updated on the news, the reaction and, as always, the best signs from each protest. If you’re a striking student, you can also share your stories and videos with the Guardian’s worldwide social team. Details and rules here.
The key thing to remember is that, somewhere in the world, at some kind of scale, this sort of thing happens every Friday. Today it’s just going to be happening everywhere at once.