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29.11.2019 Europe

Protesters target Australia's ruling party during Fridays for Future protests

Reuters/Steven Saphore
NOV 29, 2019 EUROPE

Schoolchildren were among the protesters who congregated outside the headquarters of Australia's ruling party in Sydney on Friday at the start of a new round of global protests against climate change under the "Fridays for Future" banner.

Hundreds of people gathered at the Liberal party's offices in the city as protesters throughout the Asia-Pacific region heeded the call to action from the Swedish climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg.

The demonstration came after bushfires devastated the south-east of Australia leaving six people dead and hundreds of homes destroyed.

Brandishing placards that read: "You're burning our future" and chanting: "We will rise", the protesters turned out as Sydney was again enveloped in smoke caused by the fires that have blanketed the city for much of the last month.

Unseasonably hot, dry and windy conditions have fuelled the blazes.

In France, dozens of activists gathered outside the French headquarters of the American company Amazon to hit out at over consumption and the frenzied sales pitches of Black Friday.

The entrance to an Amazon factory in Lyon, eastern France, was also briefly blocked.

"Amazon has the same carbon footprint as a state," claimed Jean-François Julliard, the director of Greenpeace France.

"More than ever we need acts of civil disobedience because Amazon has become a symbol of impunity," added the Euro MP Manon Aubry.

On Thursday up to 100 members from the ANV-COP21 and Amis de la Terre groups disrupted an Amazon distribution centre outside Paris by forming human barricades.

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

In a bid to put the environment at the top of its agenda, the European Parliament on Thursday declared a climate and environment emergency.

Incoming EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has promised to make carbon neutral policies the bedrock of EU law. Under the Paris Agreement, the EU has committed the bloc to a carbon-neutral economy by 2050.

Von der Leyen is pushing to cut emissions in half by 2030 and, in early December, she is due to roll out her Green Deal for Europe package detailing how the EU will be able meet its emissions targets on time.

“Symbolically the EU vote [declaring a climate emergency] is very important as it indicates the European parliament wants to see the European Commission come with real measures,” said Wendel Trio, director of the Climate Action Network – Europe's largest NGO coalition working on climate and energy issues.

“Now it is up to the commission to do so, because just declaring emergency and not acting upon it is not the way forward … We want an adequate reply from the European Commission within the next few weeks to really show they are serious.”