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Millions in 150 countries protest for climate action

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Tens of thousands of students were taking to the streets across Asia and Europe on Friday for a global strike demanding world leaders gathering at a UN climate summit adopt urgent measures to avert an environmental catastrophe.

People take part in a protest to call for action on climate change in Sydney.(Cordelia Hsu/Reuters)

Tens of thousands of students were taking to the streets across Asia and Europe on Friday for a global strike demanding world leaders gathering at a UN climate summit adopt urgent measures to avert an environmental catastrophe.

The protests kicked off in the Pacific islands — some of the nations most threatened by rising sea levels — and Australia, where social media posts showed huge demonstrations around the country, from the big coastal cities of Melbourne and Sydney to outback towns such as Alice Springs.

"We didn't light it, but we're trying to fight it," read one sign carried by a student in Sydney, as social media posts showed huge demonstrations around the country, including outback towns like Alice Springs.

"The oceans are rising and so are we," read another sign held by a protester wearing school uniform in Melbourne.

Inspired by the 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, protests are planned in about 150 countries to call on governments to take immediate action to limit the harmful effects of manmade climate change.

People carry a giant globe with the inscription, 'There is no planet B' during a demonstration in Berlin. (Hayoung Jeon/EPA-EFE)

The strike will culminate in New York when Thunberg, who has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her climate activism, will spearhead a rally at the United Nations headquarters.

Thunberg noted the "huge crowd" in Sydney in a tweet, which she said would set the standard as the strikes moved across Asia, Europe and Africa.

Incredible pictures as Australia’s gathering for the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/climatestrike?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#climatestrike</a> <br>This is the huge crowd building up in Sydney. <br>Australia is setting the standard! <br>Its bedtime in New York…so please share as many pictures as you can as the strikes move across Asia to Europe and Africa! <a href="https://t.co/7eAPUQPq5C">pic.twitter.com/7eAPUQPq5C</a>

&mdash;@GretaThunberg

By early afternoon, the Sydney protesters were overflowing out of a 34-hectare open space in the city. Similar crowds were reported in Brisbane and other state capitals.

Danielle Porepilliasana, a Sydney high school student, had a blunt message for politicians like Australian Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, who told parliament on Thursday that students should stay in class.

"World leaders from everywhere are telling us that students need to be at school doing work," she said, wearing anti-coal earrings. "I'd like to see them at their parliaments doing their jobs for once."

'A good sign and not at all a nuisance,' Thai minister says

The UN summit brings together world leaders to discuss climate change mitigation strategies, such as transitioning to renewable energy sources from fossil fuels.

The issue is vital to low-lying Pacific islands, which have repeatedly asked wealthier nations to do more to prevent rising sea levels.

Children in the Solomon Islands rallied on the shoreline wearing traditional grass skirts and carrying wooden shields in solidarity with the global movement.

In Thailand, more than 200 young people stormed into the Environment Ministry and dropped to the ground feigning death as they demanded government action on climate change.

"This is what will happen if we don't stop climate change now," said 21-year-old strike organizer Nanticha Ocharoenchai.

Indian activists and students gather for the protest against climate change in New Delhi.(EPA-EFE)

The Thai Environment Ministry's deputy permanent secretary, Adisorn Noochdumrong, supported the students.

"This is how the young people express their concerns, which we deem as a good sign and not at all a nuisance," he said.

In Palangka Raya, in Indonesia's Central Kalimantan province, youths carrying placards marched through heavy smog caused by forest fires.

In the eastern Indian city of Kolkata around 25 school children handed out flyers at busy bus terminals and held placards that read "Save Our Planet. Save Our World."

"This is the only planet we have. We wanted to stand for it before we went to school for the day," one of the children said.

No protests were authorized in China, the world's biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, but Zheng Xiaowen of the China Youth Climate Action Network said Chinese youth would take action one way or another.

"Chinese youth have their own methods," she said. "We also pay attention to the climate and we are also thinking deeply, interacting, taking action, and so many people are very conscientious on this issue."

Global warming caused by heat-trapping greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels has already led to droughts and heatwaves, melting glaciers, rising sea levels and floods, scientists say.

More than 200 young people in Bangkok stormed into the Environment Ministry demanding government action on climate change.(Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

Carbon emissions climbed to a record high last year, despite a warning from the UN-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in October that output of the gases must be slashed over the next 12 years to stabilize the climate.

Organizers said demonstrations would take different forms around the world, but all aim to promote awareness of climate change and demand political action to curb contributing factors.

Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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