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Thousands flood city streets in 2nd wave of global climate protests

Thousands of people flooded city streets on Friday in a second wave of worldwide protests demanding swift action on climate change.

Protesters demand political leaders take urgent steps to stop climate change

Protesters hold placards to raise climate change awareness on Friday in Wellington. Rallies held across New Zealand are part of a global movement demanding leaders take measures to address the climate crisis. (Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Thousands of people flooded city streets on Friday in a second wave of worldwide protests demanding swift action on climate change.

New Zealand kicked off the global strike with tens of thousands marching to Parliament in the country's capital of Wellington. It was one of the largest protests ever held there, and organizers needed to change their security plans to accommodate the swelling crowds.

Thousands more marched in Auckland and other parts of the country.

The protests are inspired by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who gave an emotionally charged speech at the climate summit at the United Nations General Assembly on Monday in New York City.

Teen activist Greta Thunberg assails world leaders for inaction on climate change 1:47

New Zealand and a number of other countries focused their protest efforts on the second wave, bookending a week in which climate change was at the forefront of the global conversation.

Thunberg attended a protest in Montreal.

In Wellington, 18-year-old university student Katherine Rivers said it was great to see young people taking action and personal responsibility by marching.

"We need to stop pandering to some of the people who are making money off climate change. The big oil companies, the dairy industry etc.," she said. "And make a change for the future of these kids that are here."

Rivers, who is studying marine biology and environmental studies, said she hopes to make her career about improving the environment, and "hopefully I get to have a career."

People from Pacific nations like Tonga, Samoa and Fiji led Friday's climate protest in Wellington. (The Associated Press)

While thousands of high school students elected to take time off school to protest, parents, office workers and many other adults joined the marches. One of them was 83-year-old Violet McIntosh, who has three grandchildren.

"It's not my future we're thinking about," McIntosh said.

She said it was time politicians stopped talking and started taking action. She said they should listen to the young people like Thunberg, who she described as "amazing.

"She stood out there by herself to start it all. Millions of people are following her now," McIntosh said. "She should be very proud of herself."

A global movement

Meanwhile in Europe, thousands of students took to the streets of Rome on Friday, with protesters gathering at a central square in the Italian capital.

The demonstration had record attendance due to an initiative of the Italian education ministry, which meant students attending the march would not be considered absent from school.

"The real problem is not what are the solutions, because there are solutions. The problem is making people aware, because not everybody understands this is a real crisis," said university student Sara Brunori.

Climate activists staged a peaceful protest at the Louvre in Paris by dipping their hands in molasses and leaving handprints on the famous outdoor pyramid to symbolize the museum's partnership with Total. 0:59

In France, climate activists staged a peaceful protest in Paris at the Louvre Museum, the world's largest art gallery, to mark its glass pyramid with hands dipped in molasses. The protest calls out the Louvre's partnership with French oil giant Total, one of the seven "super major" oil companies in the world, which also includes BP, Shell and Chevron. 

"We don't believe that a cultural institution, an international institution, should be receiving money from a multinational company that continues to endanger the climate, to pollute the climate and leave such a dirty environmental footprint on the earth," one activist said. 

In Berlin, activists from the Fridays for Future group braved persistent rain to denounce a package of measures that the German government recently agreed on to cut the country's greenhouse gas emissions. Experts say the proposal falls far short of what's needed if the world's sixth-biggest emitter is to meet the goals of the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord.

Actor Javier Bardem joined dozens of young people in San Sebastian in one of several demonstrations and rallies held across Spain on Friday morning ahead of evening demonstrations in the major cities where big crowds are expected, especially in Madrid and Barcelona. Bardem was promoting a documentary he worked on with Greenpeace.

In Austria, organizers said 150,000 people participated, while local APA news agency said the number was 65,000.

'There is no Planet B'

Friday's protests follow mass demonstrations on Sept. 20, when millions of young people flooded streets around the world to demand political leaders take urgent steps to stop climate change.

"There is no Planet B," read a sign hoisted by a young woman in London on Friday.

Students gathered for marches across New Zealand to kick off a planned second global school strike for climate action, building on last week's marches by millions of children around the world. 0:55

Alarmed by images of Greenland ice sheets melting and the Amazon rainforests burning, students and workers abandoned schools, shops and offices in nearly every corner of the globe, aiming to stop what they see as a looming environmental catastrophe.

The protests started in the Pacific islands, where rising sea levels threaten a way of life, and followed the sun across Australia, Japan, Southeast Asia and on to Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas. The co-ordinated student "strike" culminated in New York's Wall Street, where some investors have embraced the fossil fuel industry.

Massive crowds overwhelmed the streets of lower Manhattan, chanting, "Save our planet!"

"Right now we are the ones who are making a difference. If no one else will take action, then we will," Thunberg told tens of thousands of people at a park with a view of the Statue of Liberty.

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

Demonstrators in Paris raised a painting of Thunberg as the Virgin Mary, a halo around her head reading, "Our house is on fire."

On Sept. 20, crowds of children skipped school to join a global strike against climate change in New York City, heeding the rallying cry of teen activist Greta Thunberg and demanding adults act to stop environmental disaster. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images)

Thousands gathered across Brazil to take aim at Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, who they say is allowing the destruction of the Amazon rainforest to clear space for soy beans and cattle ranching. In August, fires there surged to their greatest level since 2010.

"The policy of the Bolsonaro government is the policy of environmental destruction and deepening the climate crisis ... this is why we're on strike," said Marcela Pimentel Miranda, an organizer for Youth for Climate's affiliate in Brasilia.

Demonstrators in Thailand stormed the Environment Ministry and feigned death, while activists in Berlin and Munich stood on melting blocks of ice with nooses around their necks to symbolize the Earth's fate when the polar ice caps melt.

Protesters in Warsaw staged a performance of people drowning in a sea of plastic waste.

While Europeans filled the streets, students in the Solomon Islands gathered at the rising ocean water's edge wearing traditional grass skirts. The issue is vital to low-lying Pacific islands, which have repeatedly asked wealthier nations to do more to prevent rising sea levels.

Organizers estimate four million people participated worldwide including 300,000 in New York, organizers with the anti-fossil fuels group 350.org said. 

With files from CBC News and Reuters

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