Protesters – many of them too young to vote – took to the streets Friday across the European Union to demand tougher action against global warming as the 28-nation bloc elects a new parliament.
From Portugal to Finland, from Italy to Britain, students followed the call of Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg to stage ‘school strikes’ against climate change.
The issue has come to the fore ahead of the elections that began Thursday and end Sunday for the EU’s 751-seat assembly. The vote is expected to boost the influence of parties that have a strong environmental message.
In Berlin, thousands of mostly young people rallied in front of the German capital’s landmark Brandenburg Gate waving banners with slogans such as “There is no planet B” or “Plant trees, save the bees, clean the seas.”
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Clara Kirchhoff said although she’s not yet allowed to vote, she’s been pressing family members and older friends to consider the world’s long-term future when they go to the polls Sunday.
“I think, particularly at the European level, it’s an important issue to create a level playing field, because there’s no point in Germany doing a lot for the climate and others not pulling their weight,” the 17-year-old said.
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Fourteen-year-old Parvati Smolka said she and her fellow students felt an obligation to attend the Berlin rally on behalf of future generations.
“We’ve got a chance to go on the streets here and make our voice heard,” she said.
A few thousands of people, mostly high school and university students, marched Friday in the streets of Paris in a joyful atmosphere to demand action against climate change. Some sang “One, two, three degrees, that’s a crime against humanity” and waved posters reading “No nature, no future.”
Thunberg, who was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, said she consciously chose the run-up to the EU parliamentary vote to organize another continent-wide protest.
“We think that it spreads a message that this is a very important election, and that it should be about the climate crisis,” she told Sweden’s TV4.