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20.09.2019 Europe

Young people demand action on climate in global protests

REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
LISTEN SEP 20, 2019
REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

Hundreds of thousands of school children around the globe followed a call from anti-climate change activist leader, Greta Thunberg to strike on Friday. It's likely the biggest-ever climate protest march.

From Asia to the Americas, across the time zones, they skipped school in 156 countries to pressure their and all governments to step up or start enacting policies to help slow and mitigate climate change.

In Uganda for example, hundreds of children joined the world movement to get adults to halt the environmental catastrophe that looms over their future.

The protest was also attended by Uganda's most high-profile young activist Leah Namugerwa, 15, who created waves when she began her own solitary school strikes in February, before others joined her.

Adult climate activists and environmental groups also took part.

They began their march in the town of Wakiso on the edge of the capital Kampala with placards denouncing the government's failure to tackle climate change issues.

Uganda, has stunning natural features such as the dramatic Rwenzori mountains, wild animals such as mountain gorillas and is home to Africa's largest lake, Lake Victoria, is facing significant climate shifts attributed to global warming.

Drought periods are lasting longer and rainfall is more intense and causes floods, landslides and disease.

Power in their hands
The school strikes herald the first United Nations Youth Climate Summit in New York on Saturday 21 September, to be followed on Monday 23 September by the UN's Climate Action Summit. The UN secretary general Antonio Guterres says the aim is to boost ambition and accelerate actions to implement the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. He's asking leaders, from government, business and civil society, to deliver their plans to address "the global climate emergency".

French president Emmanuel Macron, guardian of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement, in an interview with US news magazine Time this week, said the youth movement, "put very useful pressure on governments because they are the voice of future generations. The more you are pressed, the more you can move."

For, one, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition is, according to the French news agency, AFP, poised to pledge at least 100 billion euros on climate action by 2030, as part of climate protection and the energy transition policies.

RFI with agency dispatches

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