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Second Wave of Worldwide Protests Demanding Swift Action on Climate Change

Students took to the streets across the globe in the hundreds of thousands Friday for a second wave of worldwide protests demanding swift action

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Activists march on Parliament to protest a lack of action on climate change, in Wellington, New Zealand, Sept. 27, 2019. VOA

Students took to the streets across the globe in the hundreds of thousands Friday for a second wave of worldwide protests demanding swift action on climate change.

The protests were inspired by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who spoke to world leaders this week at a United Nations summit in New York.

Friday’s rallies kicked off in New Zealand, where young people marched on Parliament in Wellington, holding one of the largest protests ever held there. Organizers in the capital were forced to change their security plans to accommodate the crowds, while thousands more marched in Auckland and other parts of the country.

On the other side of the planet, more than 100,000 rallied in Italy’s capital, Rome, where protesters held up signs with slogans such as “Change the system, not the climate” or just the word “Future.”

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Activists demonstrate during a worldwide protest demanding action on climate change, in Milan, Italy, Sept. 27, 2019. VOA

Marches took place in about 180 locations across Italy, including the country’s financial hub of Milan where one banner read “How dare you!” — the accusation Thunberg, 16, leveled at world leaders during her U.N. speech in New York on Monday. The Italian Education Ministry said students attending the event would not be penalized for missing school.

Fears about the impact of global warming on the younger generation were expressed by schoolchildren in Dharmsala, India. South Asia depends heavily on water from the Himalayan glaciers that are under threat from climate change.

In Berlin, activists from the Fridays for Future group braved persistent rain to protest against a package the German government recently agreed for cutting the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. Experts say the proposal falls far short of what’s needed if the world’s sixth biggest emitter is to meet the goal of the Paris climate accord.

Actor Javier Bardem joined dozens of young people in San Sebastian in one of several early demonstrations and rallies held across Spain on Friday morning ahead of evening demonstrations to be held in the major towns and cities. They are expected to draw big crowds, especially in Madrid and Barcelona.

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Bardem was in San Sebastian to promote a documentary he worked on with Greenpeace.

Thunberg said she planned to attend a protest in Montreal.

“New Zealand leading the way into Friday nr 2 in #WeekForFuture,” she tweeted. “Good luck everyone striking around the world. Change is coming!!”

In Wellington, 18-year-old university student Katherine Rivers said it was great to see young people taking action and personal responsibility by marching.

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Demonstrators hold up posters at a climate change rally in Erfurt, Germany, Sept. 27, 2019. VOA

“We need to stop pandering to some of the people who are making money off climate change. The big oil companies, the dairy industry etc.,” she said. “And make a change for the future of these kids that are here.”

While thousands of high school students elected to take time off school to protest, many adults also joined the marches. One of them was 83-year-old grandmother-of-three Violet McIntosh.

“It’s not my future we’re thinking about,” McIntosh said.  She said it was time politicians should listen to young people like Thunberg, whom she described as “amazing.”

“She stood out there by herself to start it all. Millions of people are following her now,” McIntosh said. “She should be very proud of herself.”

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In the Netherlands, where thousands joined a protest in The Hague, some participants acknowledged that getting politicians to take action against global warming was only part of the story.

“It’s also about then leading sustainable lives and making changes to make your life more sustainable,” said Utrecht University student Beth Meadows.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said part of the government’s plan is to encourage citizens to shift their behavior.

“People, and businesses too, know that over the coming years, step by step, behavior that harms the climate (and) causes a lot of emissions will have a higher price than before,” Seibert told reporters in Berlin. (VOA)

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Hundreds of Kenyans Join International Protests to Demand Political Leaders Do More to Combat Climate Change

Hundreds of Kenyans joined international protests Friday to demand political leaders do more to combat climate change

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Kenyan protesters, predominantly young people, march demanding their government take immediate action against climate change, in Nairobi, Kenya, Sept. 20, 2019. (M. Yusuf/VOA) VOA

Hundreds of Kenyans joined international protests Friday to demand political leaders do more to combat climate change.

Dressed in red, black and white T-shirts bearing messages about global warming, protesters marched in the streets of Nairobi to express their fears and call for government actions they think are needed.

Twenty-two-year-old Benson Gitutu, one of the protesters, said the government and citizens must be reminded of what they are doing to the environment.

“Our climate is deteriorating day by day just because of the actions of our government and the actions of the people. And that’s why we are trying to make people aware of what they do is not good,” he said.

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Kenyan protesters display trash to demonstrate how Kenyans pollute the environment, during a protest against climate change, in Nairobi, Kenya, Sept. 20, 2019. (M. Yusuf/VOA) VOA

Gitutu said he is concerned about a proposed coal plant in Lamu County.

“We [are] hoping to see a positive change, like the government itself will stop the coal plant that is being set in Lamu, of which we know, all of us, it is not good,” Gitutu said.

Kenyan officials insist the proposed $2 billion plant will help meet the country’s growing demand for electric power.

But in June a Kenyan court halted the construction of the plant, saying the bidding process, won by a Chinese company, was irregular and lacked public participation.

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Another protester, 20-year-old Mary Mukuhe, hopes her presence in the street will compel the government work to improve the environment.

“We will help the government know that, as youth, we are seeing changes in the environment and we want them to know that we want them to be part of the changes we want,” Mukuhe said.

In recent years, African countries have witnessed unsteady weather patterns that have harmed farm output.  Kenya in particular has grappled with repeated droughts.

Amnesty International was one of the organizers of the protest.  The director of Amnesty’s Kenya branch, Irungu Houghton, said the Kenyan government has to do more to protect the environment and its population.

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Kenyan protesters join activists around the world calling on their political leaders to take action against climate change, in Nairobi, Kenya, Sept. 20, 2019. (M. Yusuf/VOA) VOA

“I think there are three things that we must do.  We have to conserve our water sources, we need to make sure we don’t waste public financing, and corruption around the two dams that had now to be stopped.  These are all consequences of bad governance. We also need to ensure that we conserve our forest. Water towers of this country about five or six water towers they are critical to the lives of 50 million people. We have to protect them.”

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Protesters believe they conveyed the message, and hope government institutions will come up with ways to protect the environment and keep Kenya a habitable place for everyone. (VOA)