Climate protests kick off ahead of UN meeting

Student activists from the School Strike for Climate Australia holding a "solidarity sit-down" outside the ruling Liberal Party's office in Sydney, Australia, yesterday. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Student activists from the School Strike for Climate Australia holding a "solidarity sit-down" outside the ruling Liberal Party's office in Sydney, Australia, yesterday. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Groups in Sydney, Tokyo and elsewhere gather to prod their governments into action

SYDNEY • Protesters in smoke-covered Sydney kicked off a fresh round of global demonstrations against climate change yesterday, with activists and schoolchildren picketing the headquarters of Australia's ruling party.

Hundreds of people gathered outside the offices of the conservative Liberal Party, as protesters in cities across the world heeded the call to action from 16-year-old climate change activist Greta Thunberg.

Last month, millions of people took to the streets in nearly every major global city for a series of "climate strikes".

The latest demonstrations come as 200 nations prepare to gather in Madrid next week for a 12-day United Nations climate conference.

In Sydney, Ms Janet Reynolds said she had lost everything in an "inferno, an absolute firestorm that raced through my property".

Student Daisy Jeffrey said: "People have lost their homes (in the bush fires), people have lost their lives. We have to ask: How far does this have to go before our government finally takes action?"

At least six people have died and hundreds of homes destroyed in the crisis, which scientists say has been worsened by rising temperatures. The target of the protesters' ire was Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who has denied any link between the fires and climate change, while defending his support for fossil fuels.

Protests also took place in Tokyo, where hundreds marched through the teeming Shinjuku district to raise awareness of the issue.

"I feel a sense of crisis because almost no one in Japan is interested in climate change," said 19-year-old student Mio Ishida. "I was really inspired by Greta's actions."

 
 

About two dozen green activists in the German capital Berlin symbolically jumped into the chilly waters of the Spree River in front of Parliament to protest against a government-backed package of measures which they say will not be enough to reduce the country's greenhouse gas emissions. The package was blocked yesterday by Germany's Upper House, which represents the country's 16 states.

In South Africa, a few dozen people holding signs that read "Not Cool" and "Stop Pollution Now" protested outside the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. One protester lay on the ground faking death, while holding a sign saying "Black Friday Reason to Grieve".

Meanwhile, Vancouver had voted late on Wednesday to ban the use of plastic straws and bags from April next year, making it the first major Canadian city to enact such a ban to reduce plastic pollution.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, ASSOCIATED PRESS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2019, with the headline 'Climate protests kick off ahead of UN meeting'. Print Edition | Subscribe