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Worldwide Protests against Climate Change to Draw More than One Million Participants

A day of worldwide protests against climate change is underway that organizers predict will draw more than one million participants

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Worldwide, Protests, Climate Change
Activists march in a climate change rally in London, Britain, Sept. 20, 2019. VOA

A day of worldwide protests against climate change is underway that organizers predict will draw more than one million participants, the largest-ever expected demonstration decrying the man-made causes of a warming planet.

Friday’s protests began across Asia, where hundreds of thousands of students and others took to the streets calling for action against climate change ahead of a United Nations summit on the issue. The protests later spread to Africa and Europe, with huge crowds filling the streets.

In Australia alone, more than 300,000 children and adults rallied with the backing of some local authorities, schools and businesses. School Strike 4 Climate in Australia said the throngs of protestors represented the largest climate protest in the country’s history. Warmer weather patterns have taken a toll on Australia, sparking drought, flooding, more intense brushfires and the whitening of the Great Barrier Reef.

Smaller protests occurred across Asia, from the Philippines to Hong Kong and India.

Worldwide, Protests, Climate Change
Activists call for action against climate change at a rally in Karachi, Pakistan, Sept. 20, 2019. VOA

Rallies are also underway in the United States, where organizers say more than 800 events have been planned, including several high-profile demonstrations in New York. More than 1 million students in some 1,800 New York City public schools have been allowed to skip school in order to participate.

In Africa, protests were held in Nairobi, Kenya and in the South African cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria. Experts say Africa is the most vulnerable continent to climate change and the least equipped to deal with the phenomenon.

Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg helped inspire the protests, staging weekly demonstrations for the past year calling on world leaders to bolster efforts to combat climate change. Friday’s Global Climate Strike is the third of several worldwide climate rallies organized by students and led by the 16-year-old Thunberg.

Thunberg is scheduled to speak at an emergency U.N. climate change summit on Monday, when Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expected to urge world leaders to exceed their commitments to the 2015 Paris climate accord.

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Guterres has demanded that countries present plans of direct action, including ending construction of coal-fired power plants and reducing fossil fuel subsidies.

Countries that are committed to the Paris agreement have pledged to limit the long-term rise in the Earth’s average temperature to two degrees over pre-industrial levels.

Worldwide, Protests, Climate Change
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

A U.N. report to be released next week is expected to conclude that global warming and pollution are devastating oceans and polar regions, raising risks for ecological devastation around the world.

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The Trump administration has cast doubt on a broad scientific consensus that the earth is warming and human activity is mostly to blame. (VOA)

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Protests Erupt in Lebanon Over Tax Proposal on Free WhatsApp Calls: Report

Many were also concerned that it was not only designed to boost tax revenue, but also a way to monitor communications and restrict freedom of speech and protests," the report mentioned

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WhatsApp on a smartphone device. Pixabay

Protests erupted in Lebanon over plans for the introduction of a tax on calls made over the Internet using the WhatsApp messenger and similar apps.

Lebanon’s cabinet decided to impose a fee on voice/video calls made on WhatsApp and other apps to raise revenues as demonstrators and police clashed on Thursday against the move, according to Arab News.

The government later backed down from the plan to levy 20 cent per day tax on WhatsApp calls as people vented their anger in the second nation-wide protests in less than a month.

Information Minister Jamal al-Jarrah on Thursday said the cabinet had agreed a charge of 20 cents per day for calls via voice over internet protocol (VoIP), used by applications that include FaceTime, Facebook, and WhatsApp.

“We are poor people. Why are they preying upon us? We had free WhatsApp calls — why do they want us to pay the internet bill twice?” One person was quoted as saying.

whatsapp, paytm, UPI-based Pay service
FILE – The WhatsApp app logo is seen on a smartphone in this picture illustration. VOA

“The fee could potentially bring in up to $250 million in annual revenues from the country’s estimated 3.5 million VoIP users,” the report said.

The tax proposal met with anger, especially among young people and those from low-income groups.

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Protesters packed roads from Riad Al-Solh Square in central Beirut all the way to Martyrs Square, chanting “Revolution” and “The people want to take down the regime.”

“Many were also concerned that it was not only designed to boost tax revenue, but also a way to monitor communications and restrict freedom of speech and protests,” the report mentioned. (IANS)