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‘Global climate strike’ calls attention to threats of warming planet

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Climate activists in Berlin protested global energy policies and increased greenhouse gas emissions on Friday. Young activists organized a “global climate strike” to highlight their concerns about the effects of global warming. (Monika Skolimowska / dpa via AP)

Berlin (AFP) – Young activists staged a “global climate strike” on Friday to highlight their concerns about the effects of global warming and demand more aid for poor countries struggling with harsh weather.

Demonstrators took to the streets in Jakarta, Tokyo, Rome and Berlin carrying placards and posters with slogans such as “The climate is changing. Why not us?”

The demonstrations were organized by the youth movement Friday for the Future whose plan drew from activist Greta Thunberg, who began protesting global energy policies and other threats to the climate outside the Swedish parliament in 2018.

“We’re playing around the world because responsible governments are still doing too little for climate justice,” said Daria Sotoudeh, a spokeswoman for the group’s branch in Germany.

“People all over the world are suffering from this crisis and it will only get worse if we don’t act in time,” she said.

Police said about 20,000 people took part in the march in Berlin, which included calls for the German government to create a €100 billion fund to tackle climate change.

In Rome, about 5,000 young men marched, which ended near the Colosseum.

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The students highlighted among their priorities the need to rethink transport policies in Italy. The country’s car-per-inhabitant ratio is among the highest in Europe.

In the election campaign in Italy, energy and climate change policies were of little importance at the candidate caucuses.

The protests come on the heels of scientists’ warnings that countries are not doing enough to meet the 2015 Paris climate agreement’s top-line target of limiting global warming to 2.7 Fahrenheit this century compared to pre-industrial times.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told world leaders this week that the fossil fuel industry, which is responsible for a large share of greenhouse gases, “is enjoying hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies and windfall profits while household budgets shrink and ours shrink. A planet is on fire.”

Guterres urged wealthy nations to tax the profits of energy companies and redirect the money to “countries experiencing losses and damage from the climate crisis” and those struggling with rising costs of living.

Demands for poorer countries to receive greater financial aid to tackle global warming, including the devastation already caused by deadly weather events such as floods in Pakistan, have increased in the run-up to this year’s United Nations climate summit.

A report released by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in February outlined the vulnerability of global hotspots such as Africa and South Asia, whose populations are 15 times more likely to die from extreme weather than the least vulnerable parts of the world. If warming exceeds a few tenths of a degree, it could cause some areas to become uninhabitable, report co-author Adele Thomas said.

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