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Amid Black Friday, activists stage global climate protests

Technology & Science

Against the backdrop of the Black Friday shopping frenzy, activists around the world are protesting consumerism and its impact on the climate ahead of the United Nations climate summit in Madrid next week.

Youth for Climate activists demonstrate inside the Westfield Les 4 Temps shopping centre during a day of protest to denounce the annual Black Friday shopping frenzy in Puteaux near Paris, France. The slogan reads, 'State of climate emergency.'(Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters)

Against the backdrop of the Black Friday shopping frenzy, activists around the world are protesting consumerism and its impact on the climate ahead of the United Nations climate summit next week.

Thousands of people in Australia and Europe joined rallies demanding more action on climate change on Friday, aiming to force political leaders to come up with urgent solutions at the United Nations climate summit in Madrid from Dec. 2 to 13.

Friday's climate strike is taking place in 2,300 cities in 153 countries around the world, according to estimates by the climate campaign group Friday for Future.

Young people attend a protest of the Fridays for Future movement in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany.(Michael Sohn/Associated Press)

Groups of young people in the U.S., where Black Friday originated as a Thanksgiving weekend event, planned a "Black Friday Strike," from Los Angeles to New York, to boycott the celebration of consumer discount shopping and to advocate for "a change to business-as-usual to confront the climate crisis."

Protests targeting Black Friday weren't limited to the U.S.

Greenpeace activists displayed a giant banner in the heart of Madrid on Friday that read, "Consumerism = climate crisis." Activists holding protest signs also chained themselves to different shop windows but were later removed and arrested by police.

Shoppers walk past Greenpeace activists standing inside a store window display during a Black Friday sale in Madrid, Spain. The banner reads, 'Black day for the Planet.'(Paul White/Associated Press)

'Block Friday' in France

In France, activists staged protests against online retailer Amazon and tried to blockade a shopping mall in Paris denouncing consumerism promoted by the U.S. Black Friday shopping frenzy that has spread to European shores.

"The planet burns, oceans die, and we still want to consume, consume, and therefore produce, produce — until we eradicate all living things? … We will not betray our children for a 30% discount!" reads a manifesto by groups holding "Block Friday" protests around Paris.

A demonstrator 'plays dead' during a climate change protest outside the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in South Africa.(Denis Farrell/Associated Press)

Several dozen protesters staged a dawn sit-in outside an Amazon building in the Clichy district of Paris, holding up a sign saying, "No to Amazon and its world."

Others blocked the Amazon warehouse in Bretigny-sur-Orge on Thursday, spreading hay and old refrigerators and microwaves on the driveway. They held signs in front of the warehouse gates reading, "Amazon: For the climate, for jobs, stop expansion, stop over-production!"

The activists were later dislodged by police.

Meanwhile, a French legislative committee passed an amendment Monday that proposes prohibiting Black Friday because it causes "resource waste" and "overconsumption." France's e-commerce union, whose members are aggressively marketing Black Friday sales throughout November, has condemned the measure.

In Vancouver, the group Extinction Rebellion planned to march through downtown and hold a "Black Friday funeral for extinction and Earth wake."

Greta Thunberg delayed

Swedish activist Greta Thunberg had been due to join a student strike in Lisbon, but her environmentally friendly voyage across the Atlantic from New York by sailboat was hit by high winds, delaying her by a few days, she told her social media followers.

We had to slow the boat down to avoid some really rough weather ahead, but now we’re back on track at full speed. Hopefully we will arrive in Lisbon, Portugal, sometime in early December. <a href="https://twitter.com/Sailing_LaVaga?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Sailing_LaVaga</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/elayna__c?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@elayna__c</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/_NikkiHenderson?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@_NikkiHenderson</a> <a href="https://t.co/k4yk8TGDjc">pic.twitter.com/k4yk8TGDjc</a>

&mdash;@GretaThunberg

Portugal's student movement still expected thousands to join marches on Friday, building on the celebrity activist's imminent arrival to mobilize ahead of the Madrid climate summit.

"We wish she'd been here, but the movement has to carry on without her. We've got to send our message and pressure politicians ahead of the climate summit," Marianna Louca, 14, told Reuters.

In September 7,5 million people around the world took to the streets. Tomorrow we’re doing it again. Everyone’s needed. Everyone’s welcome. Join us! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FridaysForFuture?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FridaysForFuture</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ClimateStrike?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ClimateStrike</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/schoolstrike4climate?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#schoolstrike4climate</a>

&mdash;@GretaThunberg

In Warsaw, activists, some in gas masks, chanted and waved banners saying, "Save our planet," "Plastics plague our oceans" and "Poland without coal 2030."

In Berlin, protesters in swimming costumes dived into the chilly waters of the River Spree, holding up a white box in a symbolic attempt to rescue the government's climate change package.

Young people take part in a demonstration against climate change during the Youth Climate Strike in Warsaw, Poland. (Marcin Obara/EPA-EFE)

In Australia, students in Sydney and other major cities walked out of class, saying more should be done to combat the country's bushfire crisis, which many see as a result of climate change.

Australia has for weeks been battling wildfires, which have killed at least four people, burned about 2.5 million acres (one million hectares) of farmland and bush and destroyed more than 500 homes.

Holding home-made signs, including "The climate is changing, why aren't we?," protesters in Sydney accused the government of inadequate action in addressing the bushfire crisis. Smoke from bushfires in New South Wales state formed a haze overhead.

"Our government's inaction on the climate crisis has supercharged bushfires," said 18-year-old Shiann Broderic, one of the event's organizers, whose home was destroyed in a bushfire.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has rejected suggestions his government is not doing enough on climate change.

Australia has pledged to cut carbon emissions by 26 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, but recent data shows emissions are unchanged.

With files from Reuters and CBC News

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