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Activists stage global climate protest, slam Ukraine war

Fridays for Future movement called demonstrations from Australia to Indonesia, US to Sweden
Demonstrators of the Fridays for Future movement march in downtown Rome, Friday, March 25, 2022. Climate activists staged a tenth series of worldwide protests Friday to demand leaders take stronger action against global warming, with some linking their environmental message to calls for an end to the war in Ukraine. (Mauro Scrobogna/LaPresse via AP)

Climate activists staged a 10th series of worldwide protests Friday to demand that leaders take stronger action against global warming, with some linking their environmental message to calls for an end to the war in Ukraine.

The Fridays for Future movement, inspired by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, called demonstrations from Australia to Indonesia and the United States to Sweden.

In Jakarta, activists dressed in red robes and held placards demanding “system change not climate change.”

Others held a banner saying “G-20, stop funding our extinction,” a reference to the fact that the Group of 20 biggest developed and emerging economies account for about 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Indonesia hosts the group’s next summit this fall.

In Rome, protesters carried a giant inflatable globe through the streets and a banner reading “Make school, not war.”

Some 300 protests were planned in Germany. Thousands of mostly young people rallied in Berlin’s government district, many of them Ukraine’s yellow and blue national flag.

“We are here today to show that peace and climate justice belong together,” Clara Duvigneau, a student from Berlin, said.

She and other activists said Germany should immediately stop buying fossil fuels from Russia, saying the tens of millions of euros (dollars) Europe pays each day contributes to Moscow’s war chest even as the burning of oil, gas and coal harms the planet.

Duvigneau urged the German government to invest in renewable energy rather than seek alternative sources of oil and gas from places like the Gulf.

“We don’t want to rely on autocracies,” she said. “And we want the energy transition to happen as quickly as possible.”

Two young Russian activists who were among the speakers at the Berlin event denounced their government’s actions in Ukraine.

“There are a lot of Russian people who are against (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, and they do not support what Putin is doing,” Polina Oleinikova told The Associate Press.

Oleinikova said that people who speak out against the government in Russia now “risk to be imprisoned on a daily basis.”

“It is very scary and we are afraid, but still we are (doing) our activism because we feel that it is very important,” she said. “It is the right thing to do and we won’t stop.”

Fellow climate activist Arshak Makichyan said the war in Ukraine and the sanctions imposed on Russia by the West were also having a drastic impact on the Russian economy

“Everything we had is collapsing,” he said, adding that he hoped Putin would be forced to resign and brought to trial.

—Frank Jordans, The Associated Press

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