Saturday, September 21, 2019

Global Climate Strikes: Protesters Rally Around the World
By RICHARD READ
SEATTLE BUREAU CHIEF
Los Angeles
SEP. 20, 2019 12:20 PM

SEATTLE —  From Paris to Peshawar, Washington state to Washington, D.C., hundreds of thousands of young people led protests Friday demanding action on climate change as a United Nations summit approaches Monday.

In Bangkok, Thailand, demonstrators staged a “die-in,” sprawling on the ground near national environmental ministry offices. In Australia, organizers estimated that more than 300,000 people took to the streets. In London, a girl held a sign that read, “We are skipping our lessons to teach you one.”

The global climate strike protests have been inspired by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish activist who sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in a zero-emission yacht rather than fly and on Wednesday met with members of Congress, urging them to heed scientists’ warnings. As protesters gathered in New York on Friday to hear Thunberg speak, she tweeted that Battery Park had overflowed with more than 250,000 people.

In Berlin, more than 100,000 people gathered in front of the Brandenburg Gate near Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office, where all-night talks produced a $60-billion package of measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Acknowledging they were inspired by the spreading popularity of demonstrations, Merkel and key ministers in her grand coalition government announced the package of fees on carbon dioxide emissions and incentives for clean energy that they hope will put Europe’s biggest economy back on track to meet its carbon reduction targets.

In northern Pakistan, more than 300 teachers, students and environmental activists marched at the University of Peshawar, chanting slogans such as “Save our planet” and “Earth is our mother.” Asif Khan, a professor and head of the campus Environmental Science Society, which organized the march, called for urgent measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Actions are required to stop this climate change phenomenon, not words,” Asif said.

Thousands of protesters marched through central Paris. High school students skipped classes to show their growing anger and frustration. “We are afraid, I mean really afraid, about the destruction of the planet and its resources,” said Katoucha Masson, 15. “Are the politicians doing enough? Non, non, non.”

In Texas, protesters gathered in Austin, in Dallas suburbs, in San Antonio, on the Mexican border and in Houston, which was still reeling from Tropical Storm Imelda with flash flood warnings in effect.

“We face regular environmental disasters like [Hurricane] Harvey and Imelda, while also having hundreds of miles of burn bans and desolate prairie,” said Virginia Gaffney, 19, who participated in the Austin gathering and led the strike in Texas.

The global grass-roots campaign was designed to disrupt everyday life and build political pressure ahead of the U.N. summit, in which heads of state convened by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres plan new climate pledges. Countries planning to forgo pledges include the United States, which President Trump is withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement.

Protesters expressed a growing sense of crisis amid heat waves, floods, hurricanes, droughts and wildfires. Advocates want governments and corporations to set deadlines for switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

Rallies were intended to be peaceful, but next week, U.S. activists plan more confrontational protests, aiming to snarl Washington traffic Monday and disrupt San Francisco’s financial district Wednesday.

In Bow, N.H., organizer Rebecca Beaulieu of 350.org is recruiting volunteers for a protest Sept. 28 designed to shut down Merrimack Station, one of the largest coal-fired power plants still operating in New England. “There are a whole bunch of people who are willing to risk arrest,” she said.

School systems and corporations struggled this week to respond as students and employees made plans to ditch classrooms and offices. New York City allowed its 1.1 million public school students to skip classes for the day. But the Los Angeles Unified School District encouraged students to remain on campus and “express themselves at school,” a district spokeswoman said.

Patagonia and a handful of other retailers, including Ben & Jerry’s, closed their stores Friday in solidarity with protesters. Rose Marcario, chief executive of the Ventura-based outdoor clothing company, wrote in a blog post that the warming climate is speeding the world toward the biggest economic catastrophe in history. “Capitalism needs to evolve if humanity is going to survive,” she wrote.

At Amazon headquarters in Seattle, more than 1,700 employees walked out, saying their employer is not moving fast enough to reduce its contributions to climate change.

Some carried signs saying, “Customer obsessed equals climate obsessed,” and “Amazon, let’s lead. Zero emissions by 2030.”

In an apparent attempt at a preemptive response, Chief Executive Jeff Bezos on Thursday announced a Climate Pledge for Amazon and other companies to sign. Amazon committed to meeting the goals of the Paris agreement 10 years early and reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.

But an employee group in Seattle called Amazon Employees for Climate Justice had called for the company to hit zero emissions by 2030 and to stop helping oil and gas companies accelerate extraction and discover reserves. A company subsidiary, Amazon Web Services, provides cloud computing services to those fossil fuel businesses. Group members, organized Friday’s walkout, said that as a tech leader, Amazon should achieve climate goals sooner, reducing the carbon footprint of its data centers and massive shipping operations.

“If we’re coming in just at 2040, that means that most other companies are coming in somewhere after that, and that’s not enough,” said data engineer Justin Campbell, a member of the group.

Yet Campbell said group members were elated that Bezos made the announcement, adopting some of their wording, a few months after Amazon shareholders voted down a proposal they made for the company to adopt a climate-change plan. Campbell, 31, decided to depart publicly from Amazon’s party line after seeing little change from volunteering for internal company initiatives.

“I don’t think anyone wants to be part of the generation that knew we had a chance to make a change but didn’t,” he said, “because we thought it was too daunting or another person would do it.”

The Amazon Seattle employees, joined by workers from Google and other tech companies, marched toward City Hall, merging with protesters led by schoolchildren in a colorful, boisterous crowd. “You will die of old age, I will die of climate change,” said a sign held by a 13-year-old girl.

One of the marchers, Faith Fountain, 12, said she joined the protest “because climate change is a real thing and needs to be fixed, and the government’s not doing much about it.” Behind her, 13-year-old Chris Wechkin, held a sign that asked, “Why study for a future we won’t have?” She said that she didn’t want to “grow up in a world that’s literally dying.”

In Lower Manhattan, swarms of protesters, many of them children and teenagers who had walked out of class, poured into the streets.

Parents brought their toddlers and babies in strollers and carriers. Groups of friends and classmates chanted, sang and waved colorful handmade signs and flags decrying the “climate catastrophe,” many with drawings of the planet on fire.

“Seas are rising and so is our anger,” read one protester’s placard. “Climate justice now,” they chanted, and “You had a future. So should we.”

Protesters gathered midday in and around Foley Square before marching past City Hall and toward Battery Park.

Mari Matoba, a 37-year-old market researcher, took the train in from Brooklyn. She carried her 18-month-old son, Wells, and pulled her 6-year-old daughter, Hadley, out of first grade for the day to come along too, saying the march was as important as any lesson in the classroom.

“We need to be acting immediately to create a world that is not just healthy for our children, but that can sustain their children,” Matoba said.

In Miami Beach, where sea level rise and erosion could place more than 12,000 homes at risk of chronic flooding within the next 30 years, a relatively small crowd of roughly 300 students and adult chaperones gathered outside City Hall in the first of two protests Friday. Their signs read: “I hope my grand kids know how to swim” and “Take a stand before our city is all sand.”

In London, protesters packed streets and parks around Parliament to chant and cheer.

“If you don’t act like adults, then we will,” read one sign held by a student who had ditched school to join the protest. “Why would we go to school if you won’t listen to the educated?” read another sign written in a child’s handwriting.

Protests also took place in other cities around Britain, including Cardiff in Wales, Edinburgh in Scotland, and Brighton and Newcastle in England.

In Mexico City, about 500 people marched from the Angel of Independence monument to the central square downtown in a demonstration meant to pressure the Mexican government to do more to combat climate change. The marchers were of all ages, including children and the elderly, but university students appeared to be the largest bloc participating.

One student, Armando Lopez, 21, said, “We all have to be conscious of how to care for the planet, and in Mexico the president should declare a national climate emergency.” Lopez criticized President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s emphasis on building more refineries and increasing Mexico’s petroleum extraction capabilities while downplaying the development of renewable energy sources.

Organizers said there were 60 such marches and rallies across Mexico on Friday.

In Brazil, protests were scheduled in at least 40 cities across 20 states Friday, with participants demanding better environmental conservation policies and an end to the fires that continue to ravage the Amazon, a result of increased deforestation due to illegal logging, mining and farming, experts say.

In Rio de Janeiro, educational activities were held at the Museum of Tomorrow, and in the northeastern city of Salvador, a public class on environmental preservation was held after the morning protest.

In China, the world’s largest carbon emitter,no major strikes were held. Public gatherings and internet access are strictly controlled in what is also the world’s most populous nation

In the southern city of Guilin, a lone high school student planted trees. Howey Ou, 16, staged a solo protest for seven days in May, in front of the local government building before authorities told her to stop because she did not have a permit. Ou switched to planting trees every Friday instead.

In Hong Kong, student groups canceled their climate actions out of concern for safety. Mass youth-led pro-democracy protests have rocked the city for 15 weeks, many ending in violent clashes with the police. More than 1,400 protesters have been arrested so far.

“We would not want to jeopardize students’ safety through a big group gathering — something which at this moment in time cannot be guaranteed,” the student group Climate Action Hong Kong said in a Facebook post.

Times staff writers Howard Blume in Los Angeles; Molly Hennessy-Fiske in Houston; Tony Barboza in New York; Alice Su in Beijing; Jenny Jarvie in Atlanta; and special correspondents Kim Willsher in Paris; Erik Kirschbaum in Berlin; Christina Boyle in London; Zulfiqar Ali in Peshawar, Pakistan; Jill Langlois in Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Cecilia Sanchez in Mexico City contributed to this report.
Pick Your Protest: South Africa Climate Action Gets Personal
By Kevin Bloom
Daily Maverick
20 September 2019

 Young climate activists take part in a demonstration against climate change on the closing day of the Smile for Future Summit for Climate in Lausanne, Switzerland, 09 August 2019. (PHOTO: EPA-EFE/JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BOTT)  Less

On 20 September 2019, to coincide with what is likely to be the largest global mass action event in the arc of human history, climate strikes will take place in 18 cities and towns across South Africa. Which is just as well, because on the evening of 18 September the United Nations placed our government in the company of climate rogues.

The lead story on Sasol’s “society” homepage, in a week when millions of human beings in 137 countries are gearing up for the largest climate protests yet, focuses on Qatar. Under the strapline “environmental care”, the South African fossil fuel giant is inviting readers to explore the “remarkable biodiversity” of the Arabian Gulf state. Sasol, it turns out, has partnered with an organisation called Friends of the Environment to produce a “state-of-the-art, interactive and multimedia mobile phone app and website”.

Apparently, the Qatar e-Nature app is “award-winning”. Also, it is available “for free” on Android, iOS and Windows platforms. In 2018, we are told, pupils from more than 100 Qatari schools took part in a contest that “tested their knowledge of plants, mammals, insects, reptiles, birds and marine life” in the oil-soaked nation, an initiative based entirely on the images and text in the app.

How does the fallout from the burning of fossil fuels affect the flora and fauna in Qatar’s actual offline ecosystems? Sasol doesn’t say. What’s the point of teaching kids the names of things that are being choked to death by the country’s record-breaking levels of air pollution? Again, Sasol gives us nothing. Why does Sasol even care about Qatar? Once again, crickets.

But there is, it seems, something that Qatar and Sasol have in common — where the former is the largest C02 emitter per capita on Earth, the latter owns and operates the single-largest point source of carbon emissions on Earth, being the infamous coal-to-liquid plant in Secunda, Mpumalanga, which is based on technology developed by the Nazis and perfected by the apartheid regime.

For such remarkable tone-deafness, as well as for the 67 million tons of C02 it spews into the atmosphere every year — a figure that renders it a carbon criminal on par with Oman, another oil-soaked Gulf state — the Sasol head office in Sandton, Johannesburg, has been chosen as a major site of protest for 20 September. The posters that advertise the march invite students from Wits University to “confront carbon capital” and ask the rest of the public to join “a human chain for climate justice” on the periphery of the building.

The hashtags across the top of both posters are instructive: #wecantbreathe and #pollutionkills. This, of course, is a reference to the “Deadly Air” matter lodged in the Pretoria High Court in June 2019. The pivotal fact in this landmark case, which names President Cyril Ramaphosa as a respondent, is that the South African government has known about the lethal levels of air pollution on the Mpumalanga and east Gauteng Highveld since at least 2007.

In that time, with an international expert calculating an early death toll in the region of at least 650 a year — mortalities caused by lung cancer, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, strokes and lower respiratory infection — it has done nothing to call the polluters to account.

But if Eskom and Sasol have (literally) been allowed to get away with murder, why not take the protests to a body politic that’s been looking the other way?

Of the 18 climate protests planned for 20 September across the length and breadth of the country, from the big cities to Graaff-Reinet in the central Karoo to the drought-stricken Eastern Cape towns of Makhanda and Mount Frere, many will do exactly that. Cape Town protesters will meet on the corner of Cambridge Street and Keizergracht in Zonnebloem to deliver a list of demands to the government that includes the official declaration of a climate emergency, the halting of all new fossil fuel projects, the conversion of the energy sector to 100% renewables by 2030 and the creation of a mandatory education curriculum for all South African schools on climate change and its effects.

“The fight for social justice and environmental justice is the same fight,” notes the South African office of 350.org, the world’s largest climate activist NGO, with respect to this march.

“We cannot solve any other social issue if we do not have a liveable planet with access to safe, clean drinking water and food.”

Like the Co-operative and Policy Alternative Centre (Copac), which is behind the siege of Sasol, the organisers of the Cape Town march have done their homework — South Africans, whose nerves have been shot by intense mass actions against femicide, xenophobia and non-existent service delivery, won’t turn up for the climate strikes unless they get how it affects them personally.

In this sense, as Daily Maverick’s Our Burning Planet has been at pains to point out, it’s darkly convenient that the corporations poisoning our soil, air and water also happen to be the corporations driving climate collapse. Beyond such expediencies, though, there are other reasons for taking the fight to South Africa’s largest oil company, all of which are archetypal of the climate justice movement at large.

“First,” says Copac’s Vishwas Satgar, “we are trying to address the weaknesses of the UN multilateral processes that have not been able to change the behaviour of the carbon criminals. Second, we want Sasol to put a just transition plan on the table that sets out how it is going to shut itself down, so that we as a country can get to zero emissions. Third, we are raising awareness about the role of carbon capital in causing global heating.”

It’s a tall order, particularly on the second point, but then the elite-to-grassroots momentum that’s been gathering around the strikes is in every way unprecedented. Even the uber-plutocrat Bill Gates, in an interview with David Wallace-Wells of New York Magazine, has just conceded that there’s nothing worthy of the word “plan” when it comes to how governments are tackling the crisis.

In South Africa, which is warming at twice the global average, less than 20% of the population is aware of the existential threat — a statistic, according to Satgar, that begs for this opportunity created by global citizen action not to be squandered.

Which, presumably, is why the other major protest in Johannesburg on 20 September, planned for kick-off at 10am at Pieter Roos Park on Empire Road, is a collaborative effort between Earthlife Africa, Greenpeace Africa, 350 Africa and GenderCC.

This march is expected to be joined by members of Saftu and Fedusa, local trade union federations that have endorsed the international strikes. Among the recipients of the marchers’ demands will be the South African delegation to the UN Climate Action Summit in New York on 23 September — the core demand, it seems, is for the government to commit to action that limits global heating to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

There are two disheartening challenges here, the first of which came to light on the evening of 18 September, when it was revealed that South Africa, along with Japan and Australia, would be denied a speaking part at the New York summit. The zero-tolerance approach is a function of the decree that has just been handed down by UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres, who declared that all countries attending the summit must stop building new coal power plants, reduce their fossil fuel subsidies and commit to net zero emissions by 2050.

Aside from the delicate matter of Medupi and Kusile, the mammoth coal-fired power stations whose exorbitant and heavily subsidised budget overruns have helped to bankrupt Eskom — which, at 205 million tons per annum, emits almost as much carbon as the United Arab Emirates — the South African delegation appears to be suffering the consequences of its behaviour at the recent UN climate talks in Bonn.

In late June 2019, as Daily Maverick reported, our team of 33 delegates at the talks were hiding a “secret” and “confidential” memo that instructed them to refrain from committing to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s landmark special report on global warming of 1.5°C.

The IPCC report, a collaboration of 91 climate scientists from 40 countries, lays out in devastating detail how modern nation-states begin to lose their ability to cope with extreme weather events, food and water shortages, civil conflict, breakdown of infrastructure and mass migrations at levels of heating above 1.5°C. And so the other disheartening challenge faced by the protesters who take their cue from the report is the list of names who now believe that the 1.5°C target is unachievable — a list that includes the techno-optimist Bill Gates, the former chair of the IPCC Sir Bob Watson, and the publishers of Nature magazine, who green-lighted a paper in July 2019 that shows how we’re already locked into carbon emissions that take us way beyond the threshold in the short-term.

Still, the apparent hopelessness of the situation, as articulated by the novelist Jonathan Franzen in the New Yorker, is no reason to sit at home and wait for the apocalypse. Although Franzen took major flak for his remarks, his message wasn’t all that different from the writer Derek Jensen, a cult-like figure among environmentalists and naturalists.

“When hope dies,” Jensen tells us, “action begins.”

And if that sentiment doesn’t get South Africans to skip work or school and join one of the 18 climate strikes on 20 September, maybe a message closer to home will.

“Graaff-Reinet is crippled by the climate crisis,” it states on the poster that advertises the Karoo action for climate justice. “We are running out of water!” DM
'No Planet B': Millions Take to Streets in Global Climate Strike
From New York to Istanbul, young activists abandon school to demand immediate action on climate change.

Millions of students and other activists abandoned school and work on Friday to join mass protests calling for action against climate change before a UN summit.

From New York to Guatemala City, Sydney to Kabul, and Cape Town to London, protesters in hundreds of cities around the world took the streets, demanding their governments take urgent steps to tackle the climate crisis and prevent an environmental catastrophe.

"The preliminary numbers say there are at least 3 million people in today's #ClimateStrike And that is before counting North and South America," tweet Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teen, who was in New York to lead the climate strike ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit, which is slated to bring together world leaders to discuss climate change mitigation strategies, including the move from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.

The demonstrations started in the Pacific Islands before quickly getting started across Australia, Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and North and South America.

'No Planet B'

As Friday's day of action got under way across the scattered Pacific communities, students holding placards in Kiribati chanted: "We are not sinking, we are fighting."

Children in the Solomon Islands rallied on the shoreline wearing traditional grass skirts and carrying wooden shields.

Hours later in Thailand, more than 200 young people stormed the Environment Ministry in Bangkok and dropped to the ground feigning death.

"This is what will happen if we don't stop climate change now," said 21-year-old strike organiser Nanticha Ocharoenchai.

Organisers estimated 300,000 people turned up for the "global climate strike" in Australia, the world's largest exporter of coal and liquid natural gas.

Protests were staged in 110 towns and cities across the country, with crowds calling on the government to commit to a target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.

In Canberra, the Australian capital, a 12-year-old primary school student told an estimated 10,000 people said she and her classmates had decided saving the planet was more important than classes.

"Politicians worry about us not going to school," said Alison. "But we're learning about the world, the danger we're in and what we can do about it. We know it's important to go to school and learn, but we know it is more important to save the planet for future generations to learn on."

Sixteen-year-old Elizabeth Whitbread attended the Canberra protest with a banner saying she was "hoping for a cooler death".

"I'm here because I want to live," she said. "We all have the right to the life we set out to have. I don't want to die young."

Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack said students should be in school.

"These sorts of rallies should be held on a weekend where it doesn't actually disrupt business, it doesn't disrupt schools, it doesn't disrupt universities," McCormack told reporters in Melbourne.

"I think it is just a disruption," he added.

Australia's conservative government - while stopping short of outright climate change denial - has sought to frame the debate as a choice between jobs or abstract CO2 targets.

In Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, students called for action against wildfires on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, which have caused health problems for people across the region.

"The youth here are saying they want the government to deal with this issue more urgently and take more action," said Al Jazeera's Raheela Mahomed, reporting from the protest site.

In India's New Delhi, one of the world's most polluted cities, dozens of students and environmental activists chanted "We want climate action" and "I want to breathe clean" at a rally outside the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

They carried banners with some displaying messages like "There is no Planet B."

"I have come to this protest today because I live in the world's most polluted city and our government is doing nothing to change that," said Asheer Kandhari, a student. "Not taking action, a government doesn't realise that they are taking away our futures. It's my future that is being affected by the government's inaction regarding the climate change policy."

No protests were authorised in China, the world's biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, but Zheng Xiaowen of the China Youth Climate Action Network said Chinese youth would take action one way or another.

"Chinese youth have their own methods," she said.

"We also pay attention to the climate and we are also thinking deeply, interacting, taking action, and so many people are very conscientious on this issue."

'Our home is burning'

Rallies were also held in Kenya's capital Nairobi, the South African capital, Pretoria.

Banners in Nairobi ranged from angry to playful, with one reading: "This planet is getting hotter than my imaginary boyfriend."

Al Jazeera's Nicolas Haque, reporting from Nairobi, said: "Out of the 10 countries most affected by climate change, seven of those are on the African continent. It has already started with hurricanes sweeping through Mozambique, flash floods in South Africa and Sierra Leone and droughts in the Sahel.

"Here in Kenya, 200 species are at risk of going extinct every day because of these droughts. So many young people here are going impatient with their leaders for not doing enough."

Global warming caused by heat-trapping greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels has already led to droughts and heatwaves, melting glaciers, rising sea levels and floods, scientists say.

An estimated 100,000 people turned up on the streets of London.

According to the UK Student Climate Network, which coordinated the strikes in this country, more than 200 demonstrations took place across the UK on Friday as workers were actively encouraged to join the young activists.

"I felt like climate change is so important, but I hadn't really seen anything to reflect that," Lola Fayokun, an 18-year-old from Avery in south London, told Al Jazeera at the protest.

"It's already killing people and having so many horrific impacts, especially in the global south. Yet nothing is being said. There is complete radio silence on the issue," she added.

Carbon emissions climbed to a record high last year, despite a warning from the UN-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in October that output of the gases must be slashed over the next 12 years to stabilise the climate.

US President Donald Trump said in 2017 that he would pull the US out of the Paris Agreement under which countries have committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions to tackle rising global temperatures.

"I'm here because Earth is our home and it's burning," said Carolyn Friedman, a 20-year-old Columbia University student with the Sunrise Movement.

"There are so many people from middle school and high school holding hands, walking through," she told Al Jazeera in New York.

'Wake up'

In Guatemala, hundreds of students and activists march through the capital, Guatemala City.

Guatemala is consistently listed as one of the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

As students marched through the city, the Guatemalan government announced a national ban and regulation of single-use plastic products, including straws and utensils, and styrofoam products. The ban seeks to attempt to control rampant contamination of the environment.

Yet, protecting the environment has proven deadly in Guatemala.

"I'm here to make it known that there have been murders of environmental activists and of those who oppose mining and the extraction of natural resources," Mario Lopez, a 29-year-old resident of Guatemala City, told Al Jazeera. "All too often the killings are not investigated."

Most recently, on September 16, environmentalist Diana Isabel Hernandez was killed in the department of Suchitepequez on the country's southern coast.

Students also marched in major cities across Brazil, with many calling for greater action to protect the Amazon rainforest, which has seen a surge in fires and deforestation this year.

"The [Brazilian] federal government wants to turn the Amazon in an area for exploitation, to put cattle and soy over the forest," said university student Fabiana Amorim.

"The first action to save the climate in the case of Brazil is to tackle the interests of agribusiness, the Brazilian economic model based on selling commodities and seeing the environment as a product only," the 21-year-old told Al Jazeera.

Student Rebeca Gaspar, worried about the fate of her generation.

"I am 18 years old, so thinking about climate change is to think of my future," she said.

"We, young people, are the most affected by climate change," she added. "I hope these manifestations have an impact on the global policy for the environment, and that the government listens to the students," she added.

Protesters in the Colombian capital of Bogota also focused their attention on the Amazon and deforestation.

"Young people can create a presence and give a message near politicians and big establishments. They know we are here and know in their conscience they're not doing something," said Antonio Ehrlich, 18, a student at University at Los Andes.

"Colombia should be a leader in this march against climate change because we are the second most biodiverse country in the world," he told Al Jazeera.

Many students also showed up to take a stand against climate change sceptics.

High school student Sofia Gutierrez, 17, said, "they are insensitive to the topic of climate change. They don't think it's a real problem."

In Argentina, small demonstrations took place across the country, with a bigger march planned for next Friday in Buenos Aires.

A couple dozen people gathered in Plaza de Mayo, in front of the Casa Rosa presidential palace, Friday afternoon, holding hands and forming a circle, with signs that urged people to "wake up". Some people called environmental awareness a "blind spot" in their country, overshadowed by economic and political crises, but they vowed to gather and bring more attention to the issue again.

"The things people generally say around the climate here is: 'why should I care, I'm already old, and I'm not going to be here tomorrow," said 21-year-old Valentina Pacino.

"That's what our parents say, what our grandparents say. They don't believe that it's an emergency, because it's not treated as such, so I think the primary responsibility here rests with the media - that the media be present and that they broadcast this, so it can reach people," she told Al Jazeera.

Arantx Avila joined the calls demanding governments take greater action.

"They have to do something," the 20-year-old told Al Jazeera.

"Because I can do something on my own, it's a small change, it helps. But the real change is going to come if governments start working on this," she added.

Additional reporting by Kate Walton in Canberra, Bilal Kuchay in New Delhi, Ylenia Gostoli in London, Ben Piven in New York City, Jeff Abbott in Guatemala City, Flavia Milhorance in Rio de Janeiro, Pu Ying Huang in Bogota and Natalie Alcoba in Buenos Aires. 

Friday, September 20, 2019

Global Climate Strike: Africa Roundup 
Thousands of protests and events are planned all around Africa to call for urgent action against climate change. Get the latest news on the Friday for Future climate strike.

The climate march in Kenya's capital Nairobi was one of the first to kick off in Africa

- In Africa, thousands of people plan descending on the streets to protest inaction on climate change

- The protests come ahead of the United Nation Climate Action Summit on 23 September

- Young people say their lives at the ones are stake as they face living in world reshaped by climate change

All updates in Universal Coordinate Time (UTC/GMT)

15:00 As many of the climate strikes wind up in Africa, we leave you with video of school children marching in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, What you can hear in the video, but can't see, is the Tanzania Police Brass Band in full uniform leading the rally as it parades through the streets pf the capital.

13:00 Kampala, Uganda The climate strike in Uganda's capital is over. Several hundred students and climate activists gathered earlier in the day at Constitutional Square for the march organized by various youth and environmental organizations such as Act Now and the Climate Action Network. At the meeting point, rap music blared, street skaters performed stunts and drinks were given out. Serenaded by the University of Makerere's marching band playing the national anthem, the marchers set off for parliament where the organizers handed over their demands in the form of a letter to politicians. 

Edwin Muhumuzu, Team Leader, Youth Go Green Uganda (as told to NTV News Uganda)
“I am very much aware that the Constitution of Uganda, Article 39, stipulates that every citizen of this country has the right to a clean and safe environment. Then how are we implementing that clause?”

Angel, Protester, Kampala

"I am protesting because we want to keep the climate green. We have many environmental problems in Uganda, because the forests are being razed and wetlands are being drained. We have to protect the planet, there is no planet B.”

Did you know?

Africa isn't a big source of greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change. It is home to 14% of the world's population but only responsible for 7% of the world's emissions. Several African countries, though, prove an exception to the rule.

South Africa is continent's largest producer of green house gases, ranking 14th in the world, thanks to its heavy dependence on coal power. The country produces “more carbon dioxide than Britain, despite having 10 million fewer people and an economy one-eighth the size,” according to The Economist magazine.

11:30 Cape Town, South Africa. The rally has reached Parliament where the crowd is listening to speeches.

Did you know?

Africa is the continent most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, according to the United Nations. This could take the form of extreme droughts, flooding and storms. With their high rates of poverty and reliance on traditional agriculture, African countries are less able to adapt to climate change. 10:00 Cape Town, South Africa. Rally is getting started to march on Parliament.

Chantal Dette, African Climate Alliance, Cape Town

"What motivates me the most is that about a year ago my country was suffering water shortages and drought. We faced the 'day zero' scenario when the taps will be turned off. People in the Cape Flats [the townships on the outskirts of Cape Town] were really suffering."

Kenya is expected to see more droughts and floods due to climate change

07.00 Kenya: The climate strike in Nairobi has kicked off. Protesters are demanding an end to coal-power plants and more renewables in Kenya. It seems that almost everyone there is holding a sign, ranging from: “Protect God's creation” to “The seas are rising and so must we” Wind energy blows me away”, "Be part of the solution, not pollution” and “There is no planet B”.

It's a pleasant scene here on the streets of Nairobi. People walked out of their offices & homes to
Luisa von Richthofen and Andrew Wasike in Nairobi, as well as Uwais Abubakar Idris in Abuja contributed to this article.
Africa’s Cities Face the Harshest Outcomes of Climate Change and Its Young People Know It
By Abdi Latif Dahir
Quartz
September 20, 2019

Millions of people across the world, many of them children who skipped school, are today taking part in protests calling for action against climate change. From Australia to America, the “climate strike” day is meant to urge governments and world leaders to end the age of fossils and up their climate efforts.

The protests are inspired by teenage activist Greta Thunberg, who sailed across the Atlantic in an emission-free sailboat last month, to attend the landmark Sept. 23 United Nations climate summit in New York.

Across Africa, both the young and the old left their classrooms and workplaces to join the protests. From Nairobi to Cape Town, Kampala to Lagos, demonstrators called on leaders to mitigate the effects of climate change. Africa has contributed little to climate change but is disproportionately vulnerable to its impacts.

Extreme droughts, flooding, and famine coupled with fast-growing populations are already straining key natural resources in the continent. Due to climate-related causes, for instance, South Africa’s second-largest city Cape Town almost ran out of water in 2018. Climate change also threatens the Nile’s critical water supply, an issue that could lead to a major geopolitical crisis in the coming years. Major African metropolises, especially coastal cities like Lagos and Dar es Salaam, also remain vulnerable to extreme weather patterns.

Eco-activists says the climate crisis will widen inequality and increase or set off  major conflicts if African—and global—leaders don’t act now. In Kenya, activists said the government should also seek a 100% renewable energy path instead of optioning to build a coal plant.

“Humanity faces three threats to our existence; climate chaos, inequalities, and violence,” Amnesty International Kenya executive director Irungu Houghton said in a statement today. The rights group gave its Ambassador of Conscience Award to young environmental defenders in Kenya, with Houghton noting they were “proud to act in solidarity” with youngsters to protect the planet’s future.

“There can be no human rights, dignity or safety on a dead planet.”
Youth Rally for Action at Detroit Climate Strike
Jack Filbrandt
South End
Sep 20, 2019

A large crowd gathered in Grand Circus Park for the Detroit Climate Strike on Sept. 20.

Across the world, more than 150 countries took part in similar strikes today with more planned for the rest of the week.

Youth activists from Detroit Area Youth Uniting Michigan —an organization run by Detroit high school students— helped lead the march along with other youth that attended the strike.

Tayiona White, DAYUM social media coordinator and junior at Cass Technical High School, feels it is important that younger generations step up and lead the fight against climate change, she said.

“I know that it is important because this is our future,” White said. “We’re growing up in this world and we are seeing all of these terrible changes happen that other generations didn’t have to grow up and grow into. I feel that it is important because we are growing up in this generation right now — the youth is.”

Activists carried many different signs as they marched to the plaza with one reading “I want you to panic,” with an illustration of the world on fire. Other signs read “I like being choked but not by greenhouse gases,” and “It’s getting hot in here, so take off all your coal.”

Climate Strike

Many marchers voiced their support of The Green New Deal or House Resolution 109 during the rally.

Max Skopek, a Wayne State media arts and sociology major, thinks that The Green New Deal is the first step in helping reverse climate change, he said.

“Without something as radical as that (The Green New Deal) not much is going to change,” Skopek said.

This bill —if passed— would transform the economy by tackling issues of inequality and climate change, according to The Sierra Club, an organization focused on protecting the environment.

The bill states that the U.S. has been responsible for emitting 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions through 2014.

“The United States must take a leading role in reducing emissions through economic trans- formation,” House Resolution 109 says.

Hassan Beydoun, a Wayne State environmental science major, came to the protest because of the way people are overlooking climate change and its drastic effects, he said.

“We’re out here to show that we are going to be heard,” Beydoun said. “Because it’s a worldwide (protest) I think it shows that everyone is worried about this and it’s everyone’s problem.”

White said she and DAYUM activists would stop at nothing to bring attention to the cause while speaking to marchers at Hart Plaza.

“We deserve a safe future and we will do anything to achieve it,” she said. “I will miss school now if it involves me not missing school in the future.”

To learn more about DAYUM, go to https://www.alliedmedia.org/dayum.

Jack Filbrandt is the Arts and Entertainment editor of The South End. He can be reached at jackfilbrandt31@gmail.com

Cover photo by Fernanda Manzanares
Detroit Youth Lead Global Climate Strike March
Sarah Rahal, The Detroit News
8:34 p.m. ET Sept. 20, 2019

Detroit — From downtown Detroit to across the globe, hundreds of thousands of young people took the streets Friday to demand that leaders tackle climate change in the run-up to a United Nations summit.

Many were children who skipped school to take part in the "Global Climate Strike."

"It's important for us to fight for our Earth and fight for our future," said Mariam Khan, 11, from Sterling Heights, who attended the march with her older sisters. "We need to stop using bottled water and invest in solar energy."

More than 500 protesters gathered at Grand Circus Park in downtown Detroit before marching on Woodward Avenue, stopping traffic during rush hour, on the way to Hart Plaza to rally.

Youth led the march along with a police escort calling for a Green New Deal, holding signs reading "Fight for our future," "Our home is on fire," "What is your plan?" and "Dinosaurs probably thought they had time too."

The Green New Deal is a congressional proposal that links reducing emissions connected to climate change with a list of economic stimulus ideas, anti-poverty efforts and a demand to give every American a job. Some analysts have contended the ideas could cost as much as $1 trillion, but the haziness of some ideas makes estimates difficult.

Ten organizations gathered in the march including the Sunrise Movement, D.A.Y.U.M, EMEAC, Moratorium Now, Detroit 15, BAMN and the Detroit Land Brigade.

In Detroit, officials said they are fighting for those who have experienced water shut-offs and foreclosures due to high water bills, which surge during times of heavy rainfall.

"You'll have to look no further than the 48217, which is basically a sacrifice zone," said Valerie Jean, 44, an organizer with the People's Water Board. "They have to duct tape their windows due to very high levels of industrial pollution from corporate and facilities like Marathon. Corporations need to care they're polluting."

Events kicked off in Australia, where protesters marched in 110 towns and cities, including Sydney and the national capital, Canberra. Demonstrators called for their country, the world’s largest exporter of coal and liquid natural gas, to take more drastic action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Organizers estimate more than 300,000 protesters took to Australian streets in what would be the country’s biggest demonstration since the Iraq War in 2003.

More than 2,500 events were expected in 150 countries worldwide Friday, according to the Associated Press.

Detroit was jam-packed Friday as the protesters halted traffic marching down Woodward Avenue. They paused chanting as they passed Campus Martius where the Detroit Youth Choir was celebrating its homecoming after competing in "America's Got Talent."

The protests are partly inspired by the activism of Swedish 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, who has staged weekly demonstrations under the heading "Fridays for Future" over the past year, calling on world leaders to step up their efforts against climate change. Thunberg is expected to speak at the U.N. Climate Action Summit on Monday.

"For way too long, the politicians and the people in power have gotten away with not doing anything at all to fight the climate crisis and the ecological crisis, but we will make sure that they will not get away with it any longer," Thunberg told marchers Friday.

Leigh Stublefield of Macomb held a sign reading, "there's no wealth on a dead planet." She said Thunberg is inspirational, prompting her to call off of work Friday and join the march.

"I'm sick of nothing being done and this extreme weather is out of control," said Stublefield, 60. "What's going on in Houston, flooding and extreme conditions, are terrifying and it's only going to get worse I'm afraid."

Hundreds of rallies took place across Europe, including in the Czech Republic, Germany, Britain and Poland, which is still widely coal-reliant and where many middle schools gave students the day off to enable them to participate in the rallies in Warsaw and other cities.

In Berlin, police said more than 100,000 people gathered in front of the capital’s landmark Brandenburg Gate, not far from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office where the Cabinet thrashed out the final details of a 54 billion euro ($60 billion) plan to curb Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Smaller rallies were held in more than a dozen cities around Japan, including Kyoto, the nation’s ancient capital that hosted the 1997 climate conference.

Rallies were also held in Johannesburg and the South African capital, Pretoria, as well as Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, where some young protesters wore hats and outfits made from plastic bottles to emphasize the dangers of plastic waste, a major threat to cities and oceans.

Africa is the most vulnerable continent to climate change and the least equipped to deal with it, experts have said. Governments have pleaded for more support from the international community, the Associated Press reports.

Phoenix Macgregor from Lincoln Park held a map of the United States reading "Wake Up" in big bold red letters.

"I started celebrating Earth Day when I was a teenager. I'm 44 now and didn't think I'd ever have to," Macgregor said. "My daughter is 25, grandson is 5 years old. I'm here for them more than for me."

Hundreds of protesters took to the street Friday, blocking off traffic on Woodward as they marched from Grand Circus Park to Hart Plaza as a part of a Global Climate Strike. Youth led the march calling for immediate action to “save their future.” (Photo: Sarah Rahal, The Detroit News)

The Associated Press contributed.

srahal@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @SarahRahal_
NYC Streets Overflow With Youth Protesting Elders’ Inaction on Climate Change — ‘They Leave it Up to Us,’ Says 16-year-old Swedish Activist
By MICHAEL ELSEN-ROONEY and CATHERINA GIOINO
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS |
SEP 20, 2019 | 1:48 PM

Students march in DUMBO, Brooklyn during the Friday's New York City Climate Justice Youth Summit. (Jesse Ward/for New York Daily News)

The kids have thrown down the gauntlet on climate change — and they traveled in numbers Friday.

The city’s streets filled with thousands of fired-up young people who accused adults of letting them down on the most important issue for their generation and those yet to come.

“Nowhere have I found anyone in power who dares to tell it like it is," said indomitable 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg in a Battery Park speech Friday afternoon that captured the spirit of the march. "They leave it up to us as teenagers, as children.”

The children were more than ready to take up the mantle — and send a message to world leaders who will gather Monday in New York to present long-term plans on curbing greenhouse gas emissions at the United Nations climate summit.

Young people carting handmade signs packed into subways and buses early Friday, and snaked their way across city bridges towards Foley Square, where protesters gathered at noon before winding their way down to Battery Park.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, just exited from the 2020 presidential campaign, estimated 60,000 people descended on lower Manhattan.

The throngs may have been even bigger at Battery Park, where speakers including Thunberg and Jaden and Willow Smith addressed the excited crowds. Organizers claimed 250,000 people packed the park, which was fenced off and staffed with guards to keep an eye out for heat exhaustion.

Kids from kindergarten to college found a place at the rally — which was one of dozens that took over cities across the globe.

[More New York] Lawyer admits bring pot and blade to client in custody at Manhattan courthouse »
Penny Trapchak, 5, who attended with her parents, came to “show everybody who’s not here to be nice and good to the environment. I think they think that the earth is strong enough. But the earth needs to be stronger enough to handle all of that.”

Carolina Tucker-Hennessy, a 16-year-old from Queens, expressed a similar sentiment with a slightly more political edge. “Every day you see so much apathy from politicians and from big corporations alike,” she said. “I’m absolutely blown away by the turnout.”

City students were excused from class Friday, but teachers weren’t, leaving some younger kids stranded without their teachers to chaperone them to the march. At least one school, P.S. 10 in Brooklyn, staged a march closer to home.

“DOE told our school they couldn’t go [to] the #ClimateStrike today, so the kids brought the strike to their school,” Elizabeth Meister wrote on Twitter.

Young activists, with Thunberg at the helm, have taken an increasingly visible role in climate politics in recent years. Average temperatures have risen almost 2 degrees since before the Industrial Revolution, and scientists attribute most of the change to the burning of fossil fuels.

Scorching hot temperatures and powerful storms have become more likely as the thermometer ticks up, scientists say. And President Trump has pledged to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Accords — the world’s largest climate change reduction plan.

Youth climate participants called for a complete divestment from fossil fuels among other changes, with one young activist sporting a sign that read: “Don’t be a fossil fool.”

New York’s rally was one in a wave that swept the globe Friday. German police estimated 100,000 people gathered outside the Brandenburg gate in Berlin, and Australian officials said 300,000 people across the country protested.

While the march went mostly smoothly in New York, temperatures in the high 70s did cause some issues as the crowd packed into Battery Park. Several people fainted of heat exhaustion, and one speaker, Dr. Ayana Johnson of the Ocean Collective, spoke out of order because she had to give medical attention to someone who passed out.

Brazilian activist Artemisa Xakriabá pointed out that climate change has particularly harmed indigenous communities.

“We have the technology, the science. Now it’s the fate of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples, we can be sure to avoid climate change, while creating a better future for our own," she said in her speech at Battery Park.

For some of the march’s attendees, the day started early — preparing signs, chants and snacks.

About 40 high school and middle school students met at the nonprofit Global Kids at 9:30 to get ready for the protest. They’ve been meeting after school once a week and planning for Friday for months.

Dominique Welsh, a senior at John Adams High School in Queens, "wanted to do something to say ‘hey, our world is slowly dying and people need to get off their butts.’”

Welsh said she would’ve attended even without the city Education Department’s recent announcement that it would excuse absences for the protest, but the policy did put her mind at ease. “I didn’t want to miss a school day of work,” she said.

Welsh and her peers turned their creative energy toward sign-making. “Winter isn’t coming — if we don’t change,” read one sign making tongue-in-cheek reference to the ominous refrain from HBO’s Game of Thrones.

Daniel Torres-Lopez, a senior at William Cullen Bryant High School in Queens with a booming voice, helped lead the group of teens in chants including “the oceans are rising, and so are we!”

After attending an event put on by the Council on Foreign Relations several years ago that laid out the grim environmental prospects as temperatures continue to rise, Torres-Lopez said he was moved to tears.

“Back then it was adults” talking about climate change, he said. “Now we have our generation caring about this issue.”
Global Climate Strike: Greta Thunberg and School Students Lead Climate Crisis Protest – as It Happened
Millions of people from Sydney to Manila, Dhaka to London and New York are marching for urgent action on climate breakdown

Fri 20 Sep 2019 21.03 EDT
Guardian

For the past 24 hours, the Guardian has been reporting in real time as millions of people joined in a worldwide, youth-led climate strike – with correspondents filing dispatches from the demonstrations across the globe.

We’re ending our liveblog here , but not our commitment to covering the climate crisis.

Workers from Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter staged walkouts in what may be the largest coordinated worker action in the history of the tech industry.

At the demonstration in Seattle, more than 3,000 tech workers walked out of their workplaces on Friday and thousands more joined actions across the country, according to Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, a group calling for Amazon to make more effort to address climate change.

Globally, more than 1,800 Amazon employees walked out across 25 cities and 14 countries on Friday to protest the company’s failure to take more action to address the climate crisis.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, has made some efforts to address climate concerns, including an announcement on Thursday that the company expects to be carbon neutral by 2040 and a February announcement of a goal, known as Shipment Zero, to be carbon neutral on 50% of shipments by 2030.

But workers are asking for more: zero emissions by 2030, increasing the number of electric vehicles in its fleet, and refusing to set contracts with companies that damage the climate.

“Amazon still has a long way to go,” said Danilo Quilaton, product designer at Amazon in San Francisco. “What kind of climate leader can we be if we’re still partnering with fossil fuel companies, selling our AI technologies to extract oil faster?”

Other tech companies were present at marches in San Francisco and beyond. Twitter workers walked out, marching alongside workers from tech payment firm Square in San Francisco. Facebook workers walked out of offices around the country, including employees who left the headquarters in San Jose.

More than 1,800 workers at Google signed a pledge supporting climate action from the company, including zero emissions by 2030, eliminating contracts with oil and gas companies, and promising zero harm to climate refugees. Hundreds walked out of Google offices across the US, including in New York City and at the headquarters in San Jose.

“As individuals, we may feel alone in facing climate change,” the Google petition said. “But if we act together – if we act now – we can build a better future.”

As people make a stand on the escalating climate crisis in this week’s global climate strike, The Guardian is joining them – to demand climate justice for everyone and an end to the age of fossil fuels. And we are joining forces with more than 250 other news organisations to increase climate coverage in the media ahead of Monday’s UN climate summit.

We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s editorially independent and open for all. You can support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Make a contribution - The Guardian

Hundreds of Amazon workers left their desks Friday to join a thousands-strong climate strike march in Seattle.

Workers rallied in front of Amazon’s focal point – the Amazon Spheres, geodesic glass terrariums marking the company’s center of gravity in downtown Seattle – before marching to city hall. The mood was light, their march well ordered and rife with signage playing on Amazon slogans, including “Customer Obsessed = Climate Obsessed”. Those gathered joked that they were skipping a lunch at their desks to join the noontime protest.

The grim realities of the climate crisis were mentioned, particularly the challenges facing Amazon warehouse workers in southern California, but the 2,000-or-so workers and throngs of supporters were prepared to celebrate. They’d won, after all, Amazon’s first broad pledge to contain its carbon footprint.

EVAN: Bobbing along with a stream of colleagues, Evan Pulgino was awestruck.

Pulgino, a software engineer from Pittsburgh who arrived in Seattle three years ago to work at Amazon, was a face in the crowd of several thousand Amazon and Google employees and their supporters. Badges colored to mark seniority, standard at Amazon, hung from lanyards and fobs.

Having set out from the Amazon Spheres in downtown Seattle, the tech crowd merged with throngs of high schoolers arriving on Fifth Avenue to join the march on Seattle’s City Hall. Pulgino described the disparate mass of humanity – Amazon’s orderly herd of 20s and 30-somethings mixing with exuberant teens – as “incredible”.

Pulgino, who has been active on climate issues since October, said he was cheered by the commitment made Thursday by Amazon to attain zero net carbon emissions by 2040. It was a start, he said, and a heartening one. Pulgino objected to Amazon’s continued financial support for climate change-denying thinktanks and politicians, and to Amazon Web Services’ contracts with fossil fuel companies.

“It was important to be part of the fight,” said Pulgino, carrying a sign that read “Stop funding climate denial, start leading for zero emissions”.

“Tech drives so much change,” the 38-year-old continued. “If Amazon leads the way, other companies will follow.”

ROSHNI: Roshni Naidu, a five-year Amazon veteran, expected something out of Finding Nemo when last year she traveled to Australia to take in the Great Barrier Reef. Naidu, 28, was shocked to find a graying, vacant space.

“It was nothing at all like what I expected,” said Naidu, a senior technical product manager.

Returning to Seattle shaken by witnessing the degradation of the planet, Naidu got to work at her work. She began agitating with other Amazon employees for the company to get it right on climate change.

Amazon, she said, can lead on climate. She described herself as “cautiously celebratory” after company leaders announced a suite of climate change-related reforms aimed at eliminating Amazon’s carbon footprint by 2040.

“It’s a sign that collective action works,” Naidu said. Friday’s march, she added, “puts even more pressure on Amazon to do more.”

It’s great, she said, to be able to say she’s “saving the world”.

NICK: Milling among his climate activist colleagues, Nick Andrews, a program manager now in his sixth year at Amazon, was ready to scream. Which, as a chant leader, was his job for the afternoon.

Andrews, 32, had been active for months pushing Amazon to reduce its climate footprint and cut ties to the fossil fuel industry. Like several of his colleagues, he struck a tone more disappointed than angry. Amazon workers tend to believe their company can do anything, including save the planet.

At the outset, Andrews said, pushing the sometimes autocratic company seemed like it would be nerve-racking work. It didn’t turn out that way.

“Everyone came in with trepidation,” Andrews said. “But it’s really received a company-wide embrace.”

It helps, he said, that he and other Amazonians turn out – unsurprisingly to those who’ve watched the company come to dominate the retail economy and cloud computing – to be “very good organizers”.

He celebrated on Thursday when Amazon leaders announced a series of steps designed to eliminate Amazon’s net carbon footprint. He looks forward to Amazon doing more, though.

“We pride ourselves on being a bar-pushing company,” Andrews said. “This is a good start, but I think we can do better.”

The main climate strike action in the Bay Area today was in the center of San Francisco, always a magnet for regional progressive activism. But across the bay, Richmond, population 110,000, more than held its own.

The small crowd at the city’s civic center peaked at about 100 before a short youth-led march. Speakers took turns addressing the group from atop a park bench, rallying with call-and-response chants and songs, and impromptu speeches about factory farming, a Green New Deal and geoengineering. But while this may have been a small branch of a global day of action, the main thrust here was local issues, as residents shared updates on local organizing efforts to stop the climate pollution happening in their own town.

Richmond is actually younger than the 117-year-old, 2,900 acre Chevron oil refinery that occupies much of the city’s scenic bayside hillscape, and the fossil fuel giant has long exerted outsized influence not just over the city’s environment, but also its politics. Richmond also feels the impact of over a million tons of coal and petroleum byproducts exported from its bayside terminal each year – the city’s asthma rates are far above those of other Bay Area communities.

Urgency on the global climate crisis won the day worldwide, but in Richmond and other front-line cities, the impacts of the fossil fuel industry and issues of environmental justice feel even more immediately dire.

At the third Rio de Janeiro demonstration of the day, Tereza Arapiun, a chief from the Arapiun tribe from the Amazon state of Pará, called for international help for Brazil’s indigenous people. “We are surrounded by destruction, loggers and mining,” she said. “We need help.”

Amazon deforestation, fires and land invasions worsened under Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, she said. “He encourages it. Before, there was protection. He destroyed it.”

Arapiun welled up as she told how a friend described hearing the screams of dying animals as fires raged recently near Alter do Chão, a renowned beauty spot in the same state. “It is very painful. It is like they are burning our soul,” she said. “We need help – and help won’t come from Brazil.”

Demonstrators have begun to gather at parks and squares across Colombia now. Here in Bogotá – the capital – the historic Plaza de Bolívar in front of the congress building is slowly drawing crowds despite the rain.

“Colombia, our land,” one group of students chanted as they arrived. “Without plastic and without war!”

Near the statue of the country’s independence hero Simón Bolívar, demonstrators banged drums and burnt incense, waving signs that read “Rebel or burn out”.

“When the problem is as urgent as climate change, it’s only by coming together that we can make a difference,” said Alejandra Moreno, a student from Bogotá.

In Bogotá, a dog wears a placard reading, “We do not have voice nor vote... You do.”

Unlike many similar events around the world, this one was not preceded by a major strike and schools were open as normal. This could be because events got little publicity in local media. The two main dailies, El Espectador and El Tiempo, ran agency-written stories online on worldwide strikes that did not once mention Colombia.

Instead, the mantle to promote today’s march was picked up by an opposition political party, Colombia Humana, and local environmental activists. Both used social media extensively.

“Why in London are people so willing to move to pressure their government and the world for drastic measures to attack the climate crisis and not in Colombia, if the problem is the same?” the senator Gustavo Petro – the leader of Colombia Humana and a former presidential candidate – tweeted this morning. “Because of something called asymmetrical information: in Colombia the danger is ignored.”

Colombia has made efforts to position itself as a regional leader on environmental issues, recently hosting a summit in its Amazonian city Leticia, where Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru agreed on measures to tackle the nearby raging rainforest fires.

However, local activists say it is just window-dressing given that Colombia remains one of the most dangerous countries for environmentalists. Twenty-four environmental activists were murdered here in 2018, second only to the Philippines, according to the watchdog Global Witness.

“Colombia is living through constant threats of damage to ecosystems and deforestation, and our cities are heating up,” said Isabel Cristina Zuleta, an environmental activist with the Rios Vivos movement, who has received many death threats for her work. She was attending a march in Medellín, Colombia’s second largest city.

“In Colombia, to protest and to march is to put yourself at risk,” Zuleta said. “That’s why today it is so important to see people in the streets.”

Students protest outside city hall in Miami Beach. Photograph: Lynne Sladky/Associated Press
The climate strike has wrapped up in Miami Beach after a “historic” day that saw thousands of schoolchildren, college students and workers gather at two events at city hall. But organizers say this is just the start of something much bigger.

“You saw how many people were here, it was incredible,” said youth climate activist John Paul Mejia, who spoke at the morning school strike and evening rally for those who couldn’t take time off during the day.

“Now we need to keep the conversation going, to build on this historic day and get things done.”

The Miami protestors were heading for an after-strike party with live music at a bar in nearby Overtown arranged by 350southflorida, an environmental group.

The relaxation will be short, however. Next week’s planned protest activities include a sit-in at Miami Beach’s sustainability committee meeting and a strike in downtown Miami at Chase Bank, which 350southflorida says is the world’s biggest funder of fossil fuels.

The “week of action” wraps up with an End of the World party on the second Global Climate Strike day next Friday.

 Thalita Alves, 20, left, and Gabriela Cunha, 18, from Federal Fluminense University demonstrate Friday on the steps of the state legislature in Rio de Janeiro. Photograph: Dom Phillips/The Guardian
There were small demonstrations across Brazil on Friday. In the morning, dozens of school and university students occupied the steps of Rio de Janeiro’s state legislature in hot sun. They sang, waved placards and called for the removal of business-friendly environment minister Ricardo Salles.

Striking high school student Maria Hardman, 15, was angry over far-right president Jair Bolsonaro’s failure to protect the Amazon. “He does not value the environment,” she said. “Bolsonaro is an imbecile. He does not represent me.”

Brazilians have yet to grasp the scale of the climate emergency, said Mariana Império, 30, a masters student at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

Thalita Alves, 20, a trainee teacher at the Federal Fluminense University, said people began waking up when fires in the Bolivian Amazon caused São Paulo skies to darken. “Brazilians who voted for Bolsonaro … faithfully believe what he says,” she said. Later another demonstration marched from Ibama, the environmental agency, to the city centre.

High school students formed a human mosaic reading: “Save the Amazon” in Recife and held up placards with data on Amazon fires in Salvador. Students marched in the town of Novo Friburgo and in the capital Brasília, an SOS Amazon banner was hung on the walls of the environment ministry.

In the Amazon city of Belém, hundreds gathered beside the Marajó Bay. “Coming from the Amazon, I feel it’s a duty to fight,” said Lidia Seabra, 24, studying a masters in biology at the Federal University of Pará. “We are united here to defend the Amazon,” said engineering student Devyison de Jesus, 21.

In São Paulo, a few thousand blocked Paulista Avenue after cheering speeches from children such as Cora Ramos, 10, who held up a placard she had made that read “there is no planet B”. “If we destroy this one, there won’t be another,” she said.

Brazilian activists were also present at marches abroad. Alessandra Munduruku, an indigenous activist from the Munduruku tribe of Pará state, made a short, powerful speech to an enormous crowd in Berlin. “My people are grateful to have good people fighting and defending the Amazon,” she said through a translator to deafening cheers.

“I saw many children, many young people, parents, old people, I thought that demonstration was very beautiful,” she told the Guardian. “I had goosebumps.”

Climate protests started early outside the National Palace in central Mexico City, where President Andrés Manuel López Obrador usually holds a daily press conference. The president – commonly called AMLO – was instead in the state of Yuctán on Friday and didn’t speak of the climate issue. But he boasted, “The fall in [Mexican] petroleum production has stopped and we’re starting to produce more petroleum. ... We’re now producing more petrol in Mexico’s refineries.”

AMLO has bet big on boosting Mexico’s petroleum output and promised to lower the price of gasoline. He’s also pushed ahead with plans to build an $8bn refinery in the state of Tabasco – even starting construction prior to completing the environmental permits. AMLO also cancelled an electricity auction, which would have allowed more renewable energy into the market, and the Federal Electricity Commission (CRE) has announced plans to instead burn more coal.

“There a campaign that renewables are cheaper and it’s a lie,” CFE director Manuel Bartlett said earlier this year.

The government’s focus on fossil fuels has put in question the country’s commitment to generate 35% of its energy with renewables by 2024, according to climate change analysts.

Marchers in Mexico City targeted AMLO, chanting, “We want a future, not hydrocarbons!”

The crowd in Battery Park roared in anticipation of Greta Thunberg, who was introduced by Alexandria Villaseñor, Thunberg’s NYC equivalent who her spends her Fridays protesting outside the UN headquarters in New York City.

“Greta! Greta! Greta!” the crowd chanted as Thunberg got on the stage.

The 16-year-old started her speech off by marking the number of people who participated in the strike around the world. In New York City, 250,000 people marched. Worldwide, more than 4m demonstrated.

Thunberg’s directed her speech to the hundreds of students in the crowd, though she acknowledged that adults also skipped worked to strike.

“We will do everything in our power to stop this crisis from getting worse, even if it means skipping school or work, because this is more important,” Thunberg said. “Why should we study for a future that is being taken away from us?”

Thunberg had to pause her speech twice to point out that people in the crowd needed medical attention. Many people had been in the sun all afternoon waiting for Thunberg to speak. The crowd patiently waited for Thunberg to start speaking again, each time cheering when she continued.

Thunberg elicited laughter when she described all the politicians she had met who asked for selfies and “tell us they really, really admire what we do” yet have done nothing to address the climate crisis. “We demand a safe future. Is that really to much to ask?”

“No!” the crowd shouted back.

At the end of her speech, Thunberg emphasized that the strikes around the world are just the start of change.

“If you belong to that small group of people who feel threatened by us, we have some very bad news for you, because this is only the beginning,” Thunberg said. “Change is coming whether they like it or not.”

Students in the crowd said they felt moved seeing Thunberg speak in person.

“I started crying. I just found it powerful and empowering,” said Juliana Rubiano, 16. “She represents a lot of people, and that’s us, that’s the youth.”

California is not a place that requires convincing that the climate is changing. The people here don’t even need to see the science — they’re feeling the impacts firsthand, as the state teeters between an eroding coastline and growing wildland fires.

Perhaps because of its many vulnerabilities, California has taken arguably the strongest stance of any US state in fighting the climate crisis, at times also fighting with the federal government in the process. When the Trump administration moved to undo California’s strict vehicle emissions standards this month, the state vowed to fight. Governor Gavin Newsom hit back with, of course, a tweet: “We will prevail. See you in court.”

Earlier this week, the University of California pledged to divest over $80bn in endowment and pension funds from fossil fuel companies, citing the “financial risk” posed by the industry, compared to renewable energy. Climate advocates called it the biggest single commitment by any university, and perhaps the beginning of a new divesting trend.

California cities, including Berkeley and San Jose, are leading the country with a wave of local laws to phase out natural gas hook-ups in new construction, despite strong and well-funded opposition from the gas industry. Natural gas is the greatest source of carbon emissions from buildings, while fully electrifying homes and businesses could allow them to run on clean, renewable energy instead.

California’s municipalities have also taken direct aim at the industry responsible for so much of the climate crisis. Eight cities and counties in the state have filed civil lawsuits against fossil fuel companies, alleging public nuisance and in some cases negligence. The suits seek billions of dollars in damages to help mitigate climate impacts.

Coming up, West Coast environment correspondent Susie Cagle will be sharing sketches and scenes from the demonstration in Richmond, California, across the bay from San Francisco. A Chevron refinery older than the town itself looms over it, and the area is home to some of the boldest climate-minded activism in California.

And Los Angeles correspondent Sam Levin will bring us dispatches from the protests in southern California.

Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets of Mexico City to join the global climate strike this afternoon.

“Se ve, se siente, la tierra está caliente,” the crowds shouted as they processed down the city’s main avenue, Reforma towards its presidential palace. “You see it, you feel it. The earth is getting hotter.”

Protesters - many of them school children and teenagers - carried homemade banners reading: “There’s no money in a dead earth” and “Action now!” One placard urged demonstrators to make love, not CO2.

There were reports of other demonstrations, big and small, across Mexico in cities including Acapulco, Irapuato, Guadalajara and Tijuana. Unlike in Brazil, where far-right president Jair Bolsonaro has ignored today’s movement, the protests received the blessing of the Mexican government which tweeted its support.

In a Twitter video Victor Toledo, Mexico’s environment secretary, urged the country to reflect on the environment “insurgency” taking place around the world and to take action where possible.
How Big Was the Global Climate Strike? 4 Million People, Activists Estimate
It was likely the largest climate protest in world history.

By Eliza Barclay and Brian Resnick 
Vox.com
Sep 20, 2019, 6:30pm EDT

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story.

Friday was a truly historic day for the potent new social movement committed to sounding a global alarm about the climate crisis. The Global Climate Strikes, inspired by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, age 16, may end up being the largest mass protest for action on global warming in history.

The exact number of participants worldwide will be hard to get. But the event was truly global and astonishingly well organized: There were 2,500 events scheduled in over 150 countries on all seven continents.

And according to 350.org, a major environmental advocacy group and a co-organizer of today’s events, more than 4 million people worldwide took part.

There were 40,000 people striking in France; 2,600 in Ukraine; 5,000 in South Africa; 10,000 in Turkey; 5,000 in Japan; 100,000 in London; 330,000 in Australia; 250,000 in NYC; and 1.4 million in Germany, 350.org told us.

Again, those numbers come from the event organizers so take them with a grain of salt. That said, it’s clear that Friday’s actions were enormous and spanned the globe. Kids and adults were protesting from Uganda to India, from Peru to Grenada, from Spain to Anchorage. There was even a small demonstration on the Antarctic continent.

It was inspiring to see so many young people — people who may live to see a radically different world as the next century approaches — tell the grownups of the world to heed the warnings of scientists and limit devastating warming by accelerating decarbonization in the next decade. On Monday, at the UN Climate Action Summit, we’ll find out how many were listening.

And eventually, an independent tally of participants will come. Researchers are working on their own estimates of the crowd size.

In 2017, Crowd Counting Consortium was launched by Erica Chenoweth, an expert on civil resistance at Harvard, and Jeremy Pressman, a political scientist at the University of Connecticut, as a public service project to document the scope of the Women’s March.

“Documenting the women’s march in real time, we learned how important it was for people to be seen, witnessed and counted,” Chenoweth and Pressman wrote in a Washington Post article.

They are currently collecting data on the September 20 climate strikes in the US and parallel events around the world. Eventually, they’ll have estimates of the total crowd size to share.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

SACP Western Cape Statement
17 September 2019

Post SACP Western Cape Provincial Executive Committee meeting statement

The Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) of the South African Communist Party (SACP) in the Western Cape Province met from 14 to 15 September 2019, at Nehawu Office, Sunbel in Bellville. Our PEC was augmented to include District Office Bearers and the Young Communist League of South Africa. SACP Central Committee members, Comrade Khaya Magaxa and Comrade Lechesa Tsenoli led presentations on the upcoming 4th Special National Congress (SNC) discussion documents.

The main purpose of the Augmented PEC was to introduce and familiarise provincial and districts leaders with the main content of the 4th Special National Congress discussion documents in preparation for wider discussions at branch, sub-district and district levels.

Forward to our SACP’s 4th Special National Congress

The recent SACP Augmented Central Committee adopted our political road-map to the 4th Special National Congress in relation to the state and direction of our shared National Democratic Revolution (NDR). The PEC placed an emphasis on preparations towards the 2021 local government elections as well as building and consolidation of the Left Popular Front and Patriotic Front as a basis to consolidate the NDR as well as build a platform to advance towards socialism.

Further, the Party in the province is optimistic that the 4th Special National Congress will play a crucial role in repositioning the Party as a fighting, agile, dynamic and independent vanguard Party of the working class.

Renew the ANC headed Alliance

The augmented PEC expressed its concern about the persisting state of paralysis in the ANC headed Alliance and more specifically capacity to engage in effective opposition politics within the legislative arm of the state in the Western Cape.

The PEC calls for the reconstitution of the political committee in the legislature in consultation with all Alliance components as a basis to form a strong leadership team that will truly represent the movement, not narrow factional groupings. 

Furthermore, the Augmented PEC calls on the ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) through the Secretary General’s office to remove the representatives who entered the National Council of Provinces through the back door.

The PEC reaffirmed its position that part of what will constitute a real renewal and rebuilding of the ANC will be the removal of all those who squandered the money meant for elections and those who cooperated with the Guptas. All these steps will demonstrate a movement that wants to unite the Alliance and ready to self correct towards the 2021 local government elections.

The social crisis of capitalist reproduction is responsible for the violence in our society

The Western Cape is characterised by all the ills of the phenomenon of social reproduction from gender-based violence, escalating levels of crime, unemployment, inequality and poverty. The ever persisting crisis of social reproduction as a consequence of the capitalist mode of production remains the primary perpetrator of impoverishment, exclusion and general exploitation. The Democratic Alliance (DA) government in practice reinforces the crisis of social reproduction through its anti-poor and pro-business attitude.

Moreover, the neoliberal policies of the DA and the continuing apartheid spatial planning and segregation of the people of the Western Cape remains the backward reality that confronts us today. The persisting high rate of crime in the working-class communities affirms our view that neoliberal policies of the DA are catastrophic to the people of the Western Cape.

We note the extension of the period of deployment of the army to March 2020 as announced by the Presidency. The presence of the soldiers remains that of a temporary intervention which will never translate to the effective mechanism to reclaim our communities from criminals.  The failures of the provincial government to accept its role in fighting crime other than the blame game directed to the national sphere of government is the source of the inability to assert the people at the centre of crime-fighting. This is coupled with the obsession of making Western Cape a homeland through federalising the province by claiming the provincial police.

As long as the Western Cape government is unable to understand that the key to crime-fighting is the development of communities and transformation of squatter camps to proper houses with proper roads, streets and lights that enable easy and swift access of police to crime scenes, the crime problem in the Western Cape will not be solved.

The Party has noted the collapse of infrastructure in working-class communities in the Western Cape.  Almost of all the Western Cape communities’ roads are dilapidated and raw sewage spills all over into communities.

The Party calls upon the various Western Cape communities to first accept that they are on their own, and that those who are supposed to deliver public services do so only to affluent areas. The people have a government whose interest is to exploit. It is for this reason that the Party calls for the decrease of the exorbitant water tariffs that were increased during the imaginary DAY Zero.  Further, the Party calls upon the Western Cape government to delink the water rates from the electricity rates as it is a norm to the poor areas.

We call upon the Department of Housing to relocate all the people who are in the Wetlands and provide adequate social housing. The SACP will continue with marches demanding access to basic services against any government sphere. Against this background, Party structures across the province will roll-out mass work directed at sub-councils and local municipalities, demanding access to basic services.

In addition, the SACP calls upon the MEC for Health to extend the working hours of the health centres in our communities and increase the availability of ambulances in the rural part of the Western Cape.

Issued by SACP Western Cape

Contact

Benson Ngqentsu – Provincial Secretary       

Mobile- 082 796 6400

ISSUED BY THE SOUTH AFRICAN COMMUNIST PARTY | SACP

FOR GENERAL ENQUIRIES ON SACP STATEMENTS CONTACT:

Alex Mohubetswane Mashilo
National Spokesperson & Head of Communications
Mobile: +27 76 316 9816
Skype: MashiloAM

CIRCULATION & MEDIA LIAISON SERVICES

Hlengiwe Nkonyane
Communications Officer: Media Liaison Services, Digital and Social Media Co-ordinator
Mobile: +27 79 384 6550

OFFICE, WEBSITE, TWITTER, FACEBOOK, USTREAM TV CHANNEL

Office: +2711 339 3621/2
Twitter: SACP1921
Website: www.sacp.org.za
Facebook Page: South African Communist Party
Ustream TV Channel: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/sacp-tv
COSATU Welcomes the Gauteng High Court’s Dismissal of AMCU’s Case Against the Federation
September 17, 2019

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) welcomes today’s decision of the Johannesburg High Court dismissing with costs AMCU’s lawsuit against COSATU. AMCU had launched a lawsuit against the federation after its leaders recently called out AMCU’s disruptive and undemocratic tendencies in the platinum mining sector. The union had alleged in its court submissions that the statements by the leadership of COSATU were instigating violence and they were asking for a court to issue a court order stopping COSATU from speaking against AMCU and its leadership.

We are very happy that the court dissected their application and concluded that it misses the mark and therefore has no merit. This victory for COSATU sends a clear message that no one is immune from public scrutiny and criticism. Union leaders cannot continue to misuse the courts of law to silence their critics; they need to address and respond to the factual issues being raised instead of resorting to litigation. People cannot hide behind courts to avoid accountability and public enquiry.

We remain adamant that the tradition of subjecting everyone in a leadership position in the country to a thorough process of democratic accountability should never be compromised.

COSATU will never incite violence and we are proud of always acting within the framework of the country’s laws. The robust debates cannot be silenced by court processes and we support the court’s decision to dismiss the application with costs because it will stop union leaders from being vexatious litigants. Our overburdened courts should not be misused by leaders who do not want to be held accountable for their action and statements.

Issued by COSATU

Sizwe Pamla (National Spokesperson)

Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794