A global day of student protests aimed at spurring world leaders into action on climate change to protect the planet for future generations kicked off in Australia and New Zealand Friday.
Thousands of youths marched in Wellington carrying placards reading “Time’s Melting Away” and “Act Now or Swim” as part of an ambitious plan to stage 1,000 demonstrations in more than 100 countries during a worldwide day of action.
Thousands more gathered in Sydney, demanding the conservative government to do more to curb the use of fossil fuels.
The international student strike will see classrooms empty in cities across the globe, from Boston to Bogota, Dhaka to Durban and Lagos to London.
“This is young people taking the reins and realising that they do have people power, that’s really awesome,” Abigail O’Regan, 20, told AFP in the New Zealand capital.
“We are only seeing the beginning,” tweeted Thunberg, who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her activism.
“I think that change is on the horizon and the people will stand up for their future.”
Some teachers and political leaders have tried to cajole or threaten students against skipping school, to little avail.
In Australia, Education Minister Dan Tehan questioned whether the protests truly represented a grassroots movement.
“Students leaving school during school hours to protest is not something that we should encourage,” he told public radio.
“Especially when they are being encouraged to do so by green political activists.”
His comments came as a report showed Australia’s annual carbon emissions had reached record levels, raising questions it will meet targets agreed under the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
But the budding activists have received encouragement from New Zealand Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern, who said it was important for the young generation to send a message.
“We hear you and we’re getting on with setting a path for carbon neutrality,” the 38-year-old leader said in a statement.
“Please keep bringing as many people as you can with you because we simply won’t achieve our goals alone.”
Wellington university student Josie Mason, 20, said she was “excited by the fact that youth are being heard and are making a stand right now.”
France 24 speaks to French students striking for climate change action
“They call our generation the ‘slacktivists’ because it’s really easy to say you’re going to an event on a Facebook page or like something but not really do anything,” she said.
Despite 30 years of warnings about dire impacts, carbon dioxide emissions hit record levels in 2017 and again last year.
Loading the atmosphere with greenhouse gases at current rates, scientists agree, will eventually lead to an unlivable planet.
“On climate change, we have to acknowledge that we have failed,” Thunberg told the global ruling class in Davos in January.
The Paris climate treaty calls for capping global warming at “well below” two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
The planet is currently on track to heat up by double that figure.
The UN’s climate science panel warned in October that only a wholesale transformation of the global economy and consumer habits could forestall a climate catastrophe.
As she prepared to march through central Wellington to parliament, O’Regan said she was concerned that by the time she was raising a family the plant would be close to unlivable.
“I feel a lot of stress and anxiety about the climate situation, and fear for my future,” she said.
“I have genuine fear that my future will not be what it should be.”
Barney Frank unveils the slogan Democratic candidates can use to win the Senate in 2020
Former Rep. Barney Frank suggested a slogan that Democrats could use to end the reign of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Frank suggested the slogan during a Friday appearance on MSNBC.
"The Republican electorate -- and what happens is the dynamic as the Republicans get harder and harder in this far-right Trump fealty, some people leave the Republican Party, so that means the remainder are this hardcore," Frank replied.
"Mitch McConnell is going to pay a price," he said. "And frankly, I think the way this is going to play out the Republican senators are now making the toughest choice a politician can make, between the primary and the final -- between making sure you can get renominated and the winning in November."
He ‘deserves better than to be mocked, taunted, and bullied by the commander-in-chief’: Lt. Col. Vindman lawyer to Trump
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was ripped during an Oval Office press availability Friday by President Donald Trump. The president, who never served in the military, mocked Vindman's rank, belittling him with sarcasm as “the lieutenant colonel."
In response to the president, Vindman's lawyer called out the president, saying that the decorated Iraq war hero deserves better.
“My client has seen war, and has sacrificed greatly for our country. He has said nothing publicly but for statements made pursuant to a subpoena. He deserves better than to be mocked, taunted, and bullied by the Commander-in-Chief,” the lawyer said according to CNN's Kaitlan Collins.