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‘I want a future’

Global youth protests urge climate action

Climate change activists show hands in support of climate action during a climate strike rally, as part of a global youth-led day of global action, Friday Sept. 20, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

By JENNIFER PELTZ

and FRANK JORDANS

Associated Press

NEW YORK — A wave of climate change protests swept the globe Friday, with hundreds of thousands of young people sending a message to leaders headed for a U.N. summit: The warming world can’t wait for action.

Marches, rallies and demonstrations were held from Canberra to Kabul and Cape Town to New York and German police reported that more than 100,000 turned out in Berlin.

“Global Climate Strike” events ranged from about two dozen activists in Seoul using LED flashlights to send Morse code messages calling for action to rescue the earth to Australia demonstrations that organizers estimated were the country’s largest protests since the Iraq War began in 2003.

“Basically, our earth is dying, and if we don’t do something about it, we die,” said A.J. Conermann, a 15-year old high school sophomore among several thousand who marched to the Capitol building in Washington.

“I want to grow up. I want to have a future,” Conermann added.

In New York, where public schools excused students with parental permission, tens of thousands of mostly young people marched through lower Manhattan.

“Sorry I can’t clean my room, I’m busy saving the world,” one protester’s sign declared.

And in Paris, teenagers and kids as young as 10 traded classrooms for the streets. Marie-Lou Sahai, 15, skipped school because “the only way to make people listen is to protest.”

The demonstrations were partly inspired by the activism of Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who has staged weekly “Fridays for Future” demonstrations for a year, urging world leaders to step up efforts against climate change.

“It’s such a victory,” Thunberg told The Associated Press in an interview in New York. “I would never have predicted or believed that this was going to happen, and so fast — and only in 15 months.”

Thunberg is expected to participate in a U.N. Youth Climate Summit today and speak at the U.N. Climate Action Summit with global leaders on Monday.

“They have this opportunity to do something, and they should take that,” she said. “And otherwise, they should feel ashamed.”

The world has warmed about 1 degree Celsius since before the Industrial Revolution, and scientists have attributed more than 90 percent of the increase to emissions of heat-trapping gases from fuel-burning and other human activity.

Scientists have warned that global warming will subject Earth to rising seas and more heat waves, droughts, powerful storms, flooding and other problems, and that some have already started manifesting themselves.

Climate change has made record-breaking heat temperature records twice as likely as record-setting cold temperatures over the past two decades in the contiguous U.S., according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data.