Millions of people including hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren are taking to the streets in 150 countries today for the largest climate protest in history.
The so-called ‘Global Strike 4 Climate Change’ rally started in Sydney this morning and is spreading west across the world to most of the planet’s biggest cities including Hong Kong, Bangkok, Jakarta, Delhi, London and New York.
But in China – the world’s most polluting nation – President Xi’s government has banned the movement protesting in its cities.
In Australia today 300,000 people have taken part including more than 50,000 people in Sydney with Thor star Chris Hemsworth and his young daughter India among those who flooded the streets calling for governments and businesses to commit to a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2030.
But there were some arrests as scuffles broke out between a minority of activists and police.
Children carrying placards saying ‘Time is almost up’ and ‘you will die of old age – I will die of climate change’ are being let out of school to march for urgent action on climate change inspired by the protest movement led by young Swede Greta Thunberg.
In New York the city’s Department of Education says all its 1.1million schoolchildren can skip class to participate in the strike if they had parental consent – without any fear of punishment.
Miss Thunberg, who has been nominated for a Nobel prize for her climate activism, will spearhead a rally at the United Nations headquarters in the city later.
Sydney: A protester clashes with police during the climate rally in the Australian city on Friday before he was arrested and removed from the area
Sydney: Children chanting for change march through Australia’s largest city today as the ‘Global Strike 4 Climate Change’ began
In Australia today 300,000 people have taken part including more than 50,000 people in Sydney with Thor star Chris Hemsworth and his young daughter India among those who flooded the streets
Marovo Island, Solomon Islands: Students in traditional dress gathered on the South Pacific Ocean took part
Bangkok: Marchers in Thailand decided to block the roads outside the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment as they demanded action
Hong Kong: Protesters carrying coffins and placards accusing governments of ‘ecocide’ march through Hong Kong’s famous harbour
Indonesia: Youths walk with signs through the main road during a Global Climate Strike rally as smog covers the city due to the forest fires in Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan province
As the sea of people made their way through the city, some school students on scooters could be seen heading in the opposite direction, while there was some fighting between protesters and police.
However, there were hundreds of young people proving their dedication to the cause as they carried artistic placards they had made the night before, which read: ‘Time is almost up’ and ‘There is no Planet B’.
Others could be seen scribbling their signs on old pieces of cardboard on the footpath as they waited for the event to begin.
One 14-year-old girl Daily Mail Australia spoke to had taken a two hour bus from the Central Coast to make it to the event and said: ‘I’m here because I’m afraid for my future. I don’t want to have kids and them to face the same problem’.
Britons joining the climate strikes can expect a day of unseasonably warm weather on Friday as they call on businesses and politicians to cut emissions.
Children and young people are preparing to walk out of lessons and lectures, with hundreds of thousands of workers expected to join them.
The protests are part of a snowballing movement sparked by teenage activist Greta Thunberg’s school strikes outside the Swedish parliament.
It comes ahead of a climate action summit in New York convened by UN secretary general Antonio Guterres to urge countries to up their climate efforts.
Much steeper measures are needed across the globe to prevent temperature rises of more than 1.5C (2.7F) or 2C (3.6F) to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
Brisbane: Millions of people from across the globe are expected to walk out of work and school as part of ‘Strike 4 Climate Action’ which will be held in 150 countries on September 20
Brisbane (left) and Melbourne (right): More than 300,000 Australians have chosed to take part in the Global Strike 4 Climate
In Australia there were hundreds of young people proving their dedication to the cause as they carried artistic placards they had made the night before, which read: ‘Time is almost up’ and ‘There is no Planet B’
New Caledonia: Protesters living on the small Pacific Island, a French territory, gather in the small capital of Noumea
As if to underline the urgency of the issues, the mercury is set to hit 26C (78.8F) this weekend – 8C(46.4F) above average for the time of year.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: ‘It is unbelievable that we should need global strike action for the future of our planet to be taken seriously.
‘The stark reality is that our climate is changing rapidly and we are running out of time to address it.’
He promised strikers his full support, adding that City Hall had been invited to observe the strike themselves.
‘I hope governments around the world who are failing to take action hear the voices of millions of people, young and old, unified in their call for action to save our planet. Our future depends on it,’ he said.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is due to address a rally of climate strikers outside Parliament on Friday, while other events are being held up and down the country.
The UK Student Climate Network (UKSCN) says more than 200 events are taking place across the UK, with – for the first time – adults being encouraged to join the youngsters as they strike.
UKSCN is calling on politicians to bring in a ‘Green New Deal’ to cut the UK’s emissions to zero and improve lives, changes to education to equip youngsters to deal with the climate crisis and votes at 16 to give them a voice.
Among the many trade unions throwing their weight behind the strikes are the TUC Congress, the University and College Union and Unite.
Some businesses are actively supporting their workers to take action, with outdoor clothing company Patagonia closing stores and offices globally, and taking out adverts to support the strikers.
The Co-operative Bank has also teamed up with Unite to support its workforce to take part in the climate strikes around the country.
Worldwide, there are more than 4,600 events in 139 countries taking place as part of the Fridays for Future movement between Friday September 20 and 27, and campaign group 350.org says more than 70 unions, 500 organisations and 1,000 companies have come out in support of the strikes.
Muna Suleiman, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said most people wanted to fix the climate crisis but politicians needed to act.
She said: ‘Right when we need our leaders to step up, they continue to let us down.
‘From filling the skies with more planes, to backing fracking in the UK and funding oil and gas projects abroad.
‘That’s why we’re standing shoulder to shoulder with young people to call on our politicians to deliver emergency climate action now. And we’re asking everyone to join us.’
John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said the school strikers have shown that people power could move governments.
He said: ‘The rest of us now need to step up and stand with the children demanding radical, systemic change, before it’s too late.’
Protests are planned in some 150 countries on Friday. The aim is for students and others from around the world to speak in one voice about the impending effects of climate change on the planet.
The strike will culminate in New York when Greta Thunberg, who has been nominated for a Nobel prize for her climate activism, will spearhead a rally at home of the United Nations headquarters.
Thunberg noted the “huge crowd” in Sydney in a tweet, which she said would set the standard as the strikes moved across Asia, Europe and Africa.
By early afternoon, the Sydney protesters were overflowing out of a 34-hectare (84-acre) open space in the city. Similar crowds were reported in Brisbane and other state capitals.
Danielle Porepilliasana, a Sydney high school student, had a blunt message for politicians like Australian Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, who told parliament on Thursday that students should stay in class.
“World leaders from everywhere are telling us that students need to be at school doing work,” she said, wearing anti-coal earrings.
“I’d like to see them at their parliaments doing their jobs for once.”
The UN summit brings together world leaders to discuss climate change mitigation strategies, such as transitioning to renewable energy sources from fossil fuels.
The issue is particularly pertinent to low-lying Pacific islands, which have repeatedly asked wealthier nations to do more to prevent rising sea levels.
Children in the Solomon Islands protested on the shoreline wearing traditional grass skirts and carrying wooden shields in solidarity with the global movement.
In Thailand, more than 200 young people stormed into the environment ministry and dropped to the ground feigning death as they demanded government action on climate change.
“This is what will happen if we donât stop climate change now,” said 21-year-old strike organiser Nanticha Ocharoenchai.
No protests were authorised in China, the world’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, but Zheng Xiaowen of the China Youth Climate Action Network said Chinese yout