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World’s youth rallies against climate change

United under Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, young people rallied worldwide on Friday to demand urgent action to halt catastrophic climate change, in their first global protest since the coronavirus crisis began.

With wild weather wreaking havoc across the world – from fires ravaging the U.S. West, to abnormal heatwaves in the Siberian Arctic and record floods in China – organisers said their aim was to remind politicians that, while the world focused on COVID-19, the climate crisis was more acute than ever.

Demonstrations were planned in more than 3,100 locations, though with pandemic-related curbs limiting the size of gatherings, much of the action shifted online.

In Stockholm, Thunberg and a handful of members of her group, Fridays for Future, assembled outside parliament with signs bearing slogans including “Stop Denying the Climate Is Dying”.

“We need to treat the climate crisis as a crisis. It’s just as simple as that. The climate crisis has never once been treated as a crisis and unless we treat it as a crisis we won’t be able to, so-called, ‘solve’ it,” Thunberg told reporters.

Organisers said turnout was expected to be far smaller than the global climate strikes held one year ago, which drew more than six million people onto the streets.

Participants were asked to post pictures on social media and join a 24-hour global Zoom call – though mass gatherings were held in countries including Germany.

In Berlin, police said nearly 10,000 people took part in demonstrations. Protesters cycled in groups to the Brandenburg Gate, where they sat in face masks, observing social distancing and chanting: “Strikes in school, university and companies. That is our answer to your politics”.