Climate strikes sweep the globe

Children hold up placards as they attend the Global Climate Strike in London.

Millions of people took to the streets in cities around the world on Friday to call for action against climate change, in what has been dubbed the largest climate protest ever.

The demonstrations — scheduled to continue for a week — were planned in over 150 countries. Protesters marched on low-lying Pacific islands under threat from rising seas, and in cities from Warsaw to Melbourne, from Nairobi to London and hundreds of other places; #GlobalClimateStrike, #FridaysForFuture, #ClimateChange were top trending topics on Twitter.

The marches come ahead of Monday’s U.N. climate summit in New York, where Secretary-General António Guterres will cajole national leaders to boost their emissions reductions promises for 2030 and to commit to becoming climate neutral by 2050.

The protests, and the U.N. summit, are reactions to the grim drumbeat of scientific reports showing that global warming is getting worse, and steps taken so far fall well short of what’s needed to bring it under control.

“This planet is getting hotter than a young Leonardo DiCaprio,” said one sign waved in Poland. “There is no planet B,” said another in the U.K. “Denial is not a policy,” read a sign in Dublin.

From London to New York City and from Perth to Paris, climate activists are taking part in a global general strike on Friday in what is expected to be the biggest day of climate demonstrations in the planet’s history.

Some of the first protests were held in Australia and organizers have said “well over” 300,000 people gathered at more than 100 cities and towns across that country. Melbourne hosted the biggest march, according to organizers, with 100,000 people turning out, while 80,000 rallied in Sydney and 30,000 in Brisbane.

The Global Climate Strike is the third in a worldwide series of climate rallies organized by school students, and led by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg. Protestors hope to put pressure on politicians and policy makers to act on climate issues.

Thunberg tweeted: “Incredible pictures as Australia’s gathering for the #climatestrike … Australia is setting the standard!”

Climate protestors pictured at a rally in Brisbane.

According to Swedish schoolgirl Thunberg, who is in New York ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit on September 23, around 4,638 events have been organized in 139 countries.
Protests have been held on some of the Pacific Island nations most under threat from the climate crisis — the nation of Kiribati may be the first country to disappear under the rising sea levels of climate change — while people turned out to march in New Zealand, Thailand and India.
“Where is my right to breathe?” read one defiant sign held up by a protestor in New Delhi, India, in a picture posted by Greenpeace India on Twitter. Meanwhile, in Thailand young protestors pretended to collapse as they demanded transformative action on the climate crisis.

Sweeping across Africa and Europe

It is not just young people taking part this month. The global youth movement has asked for adults to join them this time and many have responded.
Jean-Baptiste Redde, a 62-year-old from Bourgogne, France, was striking in Paris.
“I’m here today because leaders aren’t taking the measures they should be taking,” We are all concerned. We are all part of the ecosystem, it’s all linked.”
Protests are sweeping across Africa and Europe. Around 400 events are expected to take place in Germany alone. Thousands have gathered in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, while Thunberg tweeted that early reports suggest over 50,000 have assembled in Hamburg.

Protestors in front of the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin.

In London, Jeremy Corbyn, addressed a rally in Westminster, while there were marches in a number of Britain’s major cities.


Emily travelled from Cambridge to the rally in central London for her first demonstration.

“This is really good fun—and I think it’s making a difference, climate change is getting reported a lot and it’s trending on Twitter” she said.

Ellen and Helen were dancing in Parliament Square when they spoke to Socialist Worker.

“This is amazing” said Helen. “It’s so energetic, it feels really powerful to be here. I’ve never been on a demonstration before but I’m defiantly going to come again and bring all my mates.”

Ellen said they’d both been inspired by Greta Thunberg.

“That made me think ‘I need to do something’. I all starts with people’s actions,” she said.

Hundreds of school students occupied nearby Lambeth Bridge – despite a heavy police presence.

Cops linked arms and tried to prevent the students from leaving on one side of the bridge but soon caved in.

It was then that chants turned angrier, with hundreds of protesters shouting, “Shame on you” and “Fuck the police”.



In Manchester, after a march that some activists estimated was as large as 5,000, people returned to the starting point at Manchester Central Library.

The march was mostly made up of school students, but there were many older people as well, so that it had a real mix on it.

The day finished with music and an open mic for speeches. Many school students who had never spoken in front of crowds before took the chance to speak.

One of them, Will, said he had only heard of the march yesterday.He said it was fantastic to march with so many people but, “It’s sobering to realise that the people who don’t really care and who are only about money are the ones who we still end up keeping in power.

“I’m disappointed that people haven’t got them out yet.”

Another school student who had never spoken before said, “We can keep up what we’re doing and we’ll be able to save the planet.”

One marcher, Sara, told Socialist Worker that this had been her first climate strike march. “It’s amazing that there’s so many people here,” she said. “I never heard about the others before they happened. When I found out about this one I knew I had to come because we need to provoke change.”




Cambridge (Pic: Tom Woodcock)

Cambridge saw its biggest climate protest to date, reports Tom Woodcock

Several thousand people rallied at the county hall for speeches led entirely by school students.

Delegations from many public sector unions were present including a well organised block of student doctors, lecturers from the university and FE as well as representatives from teaching unions and council staff.

There were significant organised groups of charity workers such as Greenpeace, The RSPB and Flora and Fauna International, where the workplaces had been closed for the day.

Many others had left work for the day of their own accord.

A march then shut down the town centre as numbers were swelled by workers leaving their offices to join the protests.

A co-ordinated “die in” filled the entire street and lawns in front of the famous King’s College.

School and college students spoke again to the crowd about their frustration with politicians and of their desire to carry on until the fight against climate change was won.



15,000 marched in Glasgow

15,000 marched in Glasgow (Pic: Alistair McGowan)

15,000 marched in Glasgow

15,000 marched in Glasgow (Pic: Alistair McGowan)


Tower Hamlets London

Tower Hamlets protest

Tower Hamlets protest blocks the road (Pic: Sheila McGregregor)

Tower Hamlets protest

Tower Hamlets protest (Pic: Sheila McGregor)

School students across Tower Hamlets in east London took part in actions today, writes Sheila McGregor.

Fifty students from St Paul’s Way school marched and spoke at a rally in Altab Ali park.

Later there was sit-down at Bethnal Green tube



Siting down in Bristol

Siting down in Bristol

In Bristol there is a carnival atmosphere on College Green, as people listen to music, speeches and relax before the next action of the day after their march around the city.

They plan to protest at the Fountains from 5pm as people leave work.

Some workers have already joined the school students. Lucas, a young IT worker from nearby Bath, told Socialist Worker, “Big business has so much power and money holds so much sway.

“Look at Boris Johnson—he gets paid £200,000 for his Telegraph column by the Barclay brothers.”

But Lucas argued that “bringing people together and making a ruckus” can force action on climate change. “Bringing the city to a standstill here is affecting the micro economy,” he said. “It will make businesses think.”

In Bristol one of the most popular chants is, “This is what democracy looks like.”

Sophie, a first time school striker, told Socialist Worker, “We’ve only got a few years and we can’t go back.

“People need to take responsibility and do something.”




Brighton (Pic: Phil Mellows)

At least 7,000 people marched through Brighton and Hove as trade unionists joined school students and many others.

UCU union members at Brighton University and University of Sussex walked out for the afternoon, and Brighton & Hove city council Unison and NEU members brought banners.

Some shops closed their doors as a festival mood swept the city.


Some Guy Smallman photos in London

Westminster protest

Westminster protest (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Westminster protest

Westminster protest (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Soas walkout

Soas walkout (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Soas walkout marches to join the protests

Soas walkout marches to join the protests (Pic: Guy Smallman)




Birmingham (Pic: Jay Williams)

Several thousand people joined the school student strike in Victoria Square in Birmingham. Overwhelmingly young it was noisy and vibrant.

As we marched they sang “this is what democracy looks like”.

Not content with one march when we returned to the square from the first march they set off out the other way for a second.




Chesterfield (Pic: James Eaden)




Plymouth (Pic: Tony Staunton)

More than 2,000 people marched through the centre of Plymouth to a die-in and people’s assembly, reports Tony Staunton.

School students and college and university students marched from the top of town and a trade union march joined them from the other direction.

Trade union banners and flags attended including PCS, RMT, Unison, Unite, GMB and the Plymouth Trades Union Council.

Extinction Rebellion distributed leaflets advertising the October Rebellion and coaches from Plymouth to London for the 7 October rebellion and the 12 October trade union day of convergence at Westminster.




Sheffield (Pic: Lucinda Wakefield)

Around 5,000 people marched in Sheffield from Devonshire Green to Barker’s Pool.


Manchester workers speak out



In Manchester members of the Unite union’s NW389 charity workers’ branch marched chanting “Seize the banks, reclaim the wealth – spend it on the planet’s health.”

One of them, Ali, told Socialist Worker, “Climate change is a workers’ issue. It’s really important workers join this and create that change.

“We’ve never experienced a just transition, and it’s also important that includes good, unionised jobs.”

Michael Coates came with a delegation from the UCU union at Manchester Metropolitan university.

He said UCU and Unison at both universities in Manchester had pressured managers into allowing workers to take time off to join the protest.

“UCU has been instrumental in supporting action for the climate,” he told Socialist Worker.

“It’s the young people taking the lead and it’s important that we give them encouragement by being here.”

Mike Killian brought ten workers from his workplace, Transport For Greater Manchester.

“It’s a good start,” he said. “It’s the largest we’ve had so far on any of these.

“With the other unions from around Manchester, we have to go back and build this to be bigger – use the enthusiasm of the members that we’ve got here, to build it to something bigger in our workplaces, and spread it to other workplaces and branches.”

In Salford around 300 people joined a rally outside the civic centre, including school students and members of the Salford City Unison union branch who handed out wristbands saying “System change not climate change”.

Around 15-20 Salford council workers then travelled to join the march in Manchester – some by bicycle.

Ameen Hadi from Salford City Unison told Socialist Worker, “It’s a really good start from our branch – but I think we can do better next time. When people see how big this is they’ll want to be part of it.”

Simon, also from Salford City Unison, said it was good the union had got managers to let workers join the protests. “It shows what you can do with a strong union,” he said.


Hackney, London


Hackney (Pic: Alan Gibson)

Up to 1,000 people made a “big noise” at 1pm outside Hackney town hall in east London today.

Earlier a rally heard students and teachers from several schools plus hospital andcouncil workers, community groups, charities and others.

Hackney’s mayor, Philip Glanville, also spoke.

All spoke about the need to protest and fight to force governments to take action to stop climate change.



Thousands march in Leeds

Thousands march in Leeds (Pic: Neil Terry)


Around the marches and rallies


Newcastle (Pic: Steve Lancaster)

BEIS strikers

BEIS strikers (Pic: John Gamble)

Amazon & Microsoft workers striking

Labor and humanitarian groups, environmental organizations and employees of some of the world’s biggest brands are participating.
Nearly 1,000 Amazon employees have pledged to walk out and Microsoft workers have also said they will join the strikes.
Microsoft Workers 4 Good tweeted earlier this month: “Microsoft workers will be joining millions of people around the world by participating in the youth-led Global Climate strike on September 20th to demand an end to the age of fossil fuels.”
Outdoor clothing brand Patagonia has said it plans to shut down its operations on Friday to allow employees to join the Global Climate Strike. (Stores in Italy and the Netherlands will close on September 27, and in Switzerland on September 28.)

Thunberg is to speak in NYC, which gave 1.1 million students permission to skip school

In New York City, thousands of people were marching early Friday afternoon in lower Manhattan to Battery Park, where a roster of young climate activists will speak, including Thunberg, who sailed to New York to attend the UN Climate Action Summit.
Thunberg was among the crowds marching to Battery Park ahead of the speeches.

Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg walks with protesters during in New York on Friday afternoon.

The city had said its 1.1 million public school pupils could skip school for the strike on Friday without penalty, but made it clear that the students did need parental consent.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted he supported the move: “New York City stands with our young people. They’re our conscience.”
As for Thunberg, she took 15 days to sail across the Atlantic — from Plymouth, UK, to New York City. She traveled on a zero-emission sailboat to reduce the environmental impact of her journey, according to a statement from her team.
The teenager, who last August began staging weekly solo protests outside the Swedish parliament every Friday, has become the figurehead of a burgeoning movement of youth climate activists.

Barack Obama meets with Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg in Washington, DC on September 16.

This week she met former US President Barack Obama and told US politicians that they were not doing enough to combat climate change.
She has been invited to talk at the UN summit by UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres, who has called for heads of government to not bring speeches but plans on what he has called a climate emergency.
According to the Financial Times, leading economies such as Australia and Japan will not be invited to speak at the summit because of their continued support for coal is at odds with Gutteres’ aims.
The Paris treaty, signed in 2015 by 195 nations, obliged governments to limit global temperature rises to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius and to strive for 1.5 degrees Celsius. The United States withdrew from the treaty in 2017.
In 2017, Obama lamented President Donald Trump’s decision, saying in a statement that the deal was intended to “protect the world we leave to our children.”
Next week promises to be very interesting and could lead to a step change politically around the world 

The campaign for a radical Green New Deal in the UK

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