World children ‘rise’ against climate crisis
From Sydney to Istanbul, New York to Manila, children heeded the rallying cry of 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg and shut their textbooks in a collective call to action.
The rallies were organized by the Fridays for Future network, a youth movement which now strikes every Friday to take action against climate change.
“We attend the strike as individuals. We attend because we see that the climate breakdown is occurring and we do not see that people in positions of power are reacting in a way to lead to a safe and stable climate,” the movement said in a statement.
Support from municipalities
Istanbul’s Kadıköy and Şişli districts were the focal points of the Turkey chapter’s activity during the global protests.
Environmentalists supported by Kadıköy municipality on the Asian side of the metropolis used the slogan “Zero carbon future or zero future” as the public statement on the main square of the district.
Turkey’s prominent teen climate activists, led by 13-year-old Atlas Sarrafoğlu and 18-year-old Selin Gören, called on citizens to join the panels, concerts and workshops organized at the nearby Yoğurtçu Park.
A giant mural depicting Thunberg was painted on a building in Kadıköy by Portuguese artists Mr. Dheo ve Pariz One in the first week of September.
The municipality of Istanbul’s European side district of Şişli, the local administration employees union Tüm Bel-Sen and Şişli City Council Ecology Assembly conducted a one-hour strike at 4 p.m. local time, calling on the authorities “to act against the climate crisis.”
The global climate strike, billed as the biggest climate mobilization ever, was held in over 110 countries across six continents with more than 3,500 demonstrations by students, activists, scientists, workers and others.
As the sun rose above the international dateline, events began in the deluge-threatened Pacific Islands of Vanuatu, the Solomons and Kiribati - where children chanted “We are not sinking; we are fighting.”
In India, schoolchildren rallied in New Delhi and Mumbai while thousands protested in the Philippines, which experts say faces threats from rising sea levels and increasingly violent storms.
In New York, 1.1 million students in around 1,800 public schools were permitted to skip school.
In Australia, more than 300,000 kids, parents and supporters rallied, organizers said, more than double the turnout at climate strikes in March,
“The oceans are rising and so are we,” read a sign held by a protester wearing school uniform in Australian city of Melbourne.
Bill McKibben, author and founder of the 350.org movement, said young people have made it clear that adults can no longer in good conscience refuse the call to action.
“Young people have asked the rest of us to back them up - when kids make a mature and reasonable request, what kind of adult says no?”
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, head of World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) global climate and energy practice, said young people around the world are joining the strike to ask leaders to stop greenhouse gas emission.
“The bigger question is whether these leaders will answer their plea and end the climate action inertia,” added Vidal, who was Peru’s Environment Minister from 2011-2016.
Helena Siren Gualinga, a 17-year-old climate and indigenous rights activist, said she was attending the strike because “our planet’s future is at stake and my home, the Amazon rainforest, is on fire”.
Referring to climate change as “a life-threatening crisis,” Baran Bozoğlu, head of Turkey’s Chamber of Environmental Engineers, said: “We should stay away from fossil fuels, improve energy efficiency and reduce consumption. Otherwise life in the world is in great danger.”