Greta Thunberg and youth climate protests make a return

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Cimate activists prepare at a camp near the Garzweiler surface coal mine at Keyenberg, Germany, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020. Several groups like 'Friday for Future' or 'Ende Gelaende' started actions for climate justice in the coming days throughout Germany. The movement demands that the German government phase out coal by 2030 and make Germany carbon neutral by 2035. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

STOCKHOLM – Teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg is back. She joined fellow demonstrators outside the Swedish Parliament on Friday to kick off a day of socially distanced global climate protests.

“The main hope is, as always, to try to have an impact on the level of awareness and public opinion so that people will start becoming more aware,” the 17-year-old told reporters.

The coronavirus outbreak has prevented the Fridays for Future movement that Thunberg inspired from holding its mass rallies in recent months, lowering its public profile.

Thunberg started her solo protests outside Sweden’s parliament in Stockholm on Aug. 20, 2018. Students around the world soon began following her lead, staging regular large protests, and she was invited to speak to political and business leaders at U.N. conferences and the annual World Economic Forum in Davos.

Thunberg’s blunt words to presidents and prime ministers, peppered with scientific facts about the need to urgently cut greenhouse gas emissions, have won her praise and awards, but also the occasional criticism and even death threats.

They demand that lawmakers stick to the 2015 landmark Paris climate deal that asks both rich and poor countries to take action to curb the rise in global temperatures that is melting glaciers, raising sea levels and shifting rainfall patterns. It requires governments to present national plans to reduce emissions in order to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

Thousands of primarily young protesters took to the streets of cities across Germany as part of the Friday for Future protests demanding for more to be done to fight climate change.

In the German capital, thousands rallied outside the landmark Brandenburg Gate despite heavy rain. Many, including local activist Luisa Neubauer, wore masks printed with the words “not another degree.” Elsewhere in Berlin, cyclists rode past the main train station and through downtown in a separate protest.

Outside Frankfurt City Hall, demonstrators held signs with slogans like “Environmental protection, not capitalism,” and “If you breathe air, you should care.”

One young woman held a poster of an ostrich with its head stuck in the ground and its posterior on fire. The poster's slogan read, “Burying your head in the sand won’t help, your butt will still get hot.”

Thousands more took part in demonstrations in Bonn, Aachen, Cologne and elsewhere as part of some 450 registered protests across Germany.

During an earlier protest in the Arctic, British climate activist and ornithologist Mya-Rose Craig, stood on a piece of ice broken off from the ice cap.

The 18-year-old bird lover and founder of the non-profit Black2Nature said she believes it’s the most northerly climate strike ever. Her group encourages inner-city children from black and ethnic minority backgrounds to explore nature.

“Being on a tiny ice floe like this and just floating in the middle of a sea of slush has really just reminded me how delicate the Arctic is,” she said Sunday from north of the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard.

“I think the youth strike movement is amazing because it’s brought so much energy to the anti-climate change movement where suddenly hundreds of thousands of young people around the world have a voice and they’re using it.”


The story has been corrected to give the date of the Arctic protest as Sunday.


Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, and David Rising in Berlin contributed to this report.


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