BERLIN – Climate protesters gathered in cities from Australia to India and Europe on Friday, citing the “climate emergency” declared by EU lawmakers just days before a major climate summit opens in Madrid.
More than 2,400 cities in 158 countries took part in demonstrations across the globe, according to the Fridays for Future network. Greenpeace, Extinction Rebellion and other NGOs also held protests.
The protests come after lawmakers in the European Parliament voted on Thursday to declare a “climate and environmental emergency” in Europe.
The symbolic move urges the European Union’s executive branch to align their activities to limit global warming to under 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the more ambitious of two targets set out in the Paris climate accord.
The Germany chapter of Fridays for Future likened the EU parliament’s actions to a fire brigade screaming, “There’s a fire!”
On Friday, 630,000 people demonstrated in 520 German cities, according to the German offshoot of the climate movement, in bike demos, blockades, picnics and protests at coal plants.
The demonstrations drew far fewer attendees than the huge “climate strikes” seen across the globe in September.
In Berlin, 60,000 participants gathered at the Brandenburg Gate, organizers said on Twitter. Two dozen young protesters jumped into the River Spree, despite local temperatures of five degrees Celsius.
Organizers reckoned with 30,000 attendees at a protest in Hamburg. Hanover saw 40,000, while in Cologne, 20,000 protesters were expected.
In Lisbon, thousands gathered in front of the Portuguese parliament and further demonstrations were planned in cities from Porto to Coimbra, Faro, Penafiel, Evora, Santa Maria, the Azores and Caldas da Rainha.
In Belgium, hundreds of protesters were joined by organizations from Grandparents for the Climate, as well as the local Yellow Vests offshoot, Amnesty International and Extinction Rebellion.
French demonstrators hit the streets from Paris to Grenoble, and in Lyon and Saint-Priest they protested against excessive consumption on the Black Friday shopping holiday, blocking entrances to Amazon warehouses in a campaign they dubbed #BlockFriday.
According to organizers, more than 300,000 people took part in the Italian Fridays for Future demonstrations, including 30,000 in Rome, 25,000 in Milan and 10,000 each in Turin and Naples. The protests also took aim at Black Friday, a day when global retailers offer discounts.
“Big brands are offering discounts on consumer items to encourage us to buy things we would normally not buy. We need to change this unsustainable model,” Fridays for Future Italia said.
“We are also demonstrating ahead of the COP25 in Madrid to denounce the fence-sitting and the inactivity of all of the world’s governments,” the group added.
The two-week COP25 environmental summit is due to begin in Madrid on Monday.
About 135 climate protests and school strikes were scheduled on Friday across Sweden, from Kiruna in the far north to Helsingborg and Malmo in the south.
Extinction Rebellion staged a so-called “die-in” in central Stockholm where a dozen activists lay down at the entrance to a shopping mall. A banner reading “Act now” was placed in front of them, while others sang a song titled “This is an emergency.”