Europe joins climate protests ahead of UN meeting

Large groups of people protested for renewed action on climate change in Asia and Europe ahead of the UN climate summit

A general view shows demonstrators as they gather with placards at Brandenburg Gate during a protest called by the Fridays for Future movement for climate protection on November 29, 2019 in Berlin, as part of global action day for climate. (AFP Photo)

Tens of thousands of protesters hit the streets of Europe and Asia on Friday to make a fresh call for action against global warming, hoping to raise pressure on world leaders days before a UN climate summit.

Carrying signs that read "One planet, one fight" and "The sea is rising, so must we", thousands flocked to Berlin's Brandenburg Gate for the latest "Fridays for Future" protest inspired by 16-year-old campaigner Greta Thunberg.

Some 30,000 mainly young people also gathered in Hamburg and another 17,000 in Munich to voice alarm at rising temperatures, police said.

Similar rallies took place across Europe, although on a smaller scale than during September's wave of "climate strikes" when organisers said some four million people filled city streets around the world.

Around 1,700 turned out in Madrid, the host city of next week's 12-day COP25 conference, which aims to encourage governments to increase their commitments to cut emissions and combat climate change.

In France, climate activists focused their anger on the "Black Friday" sales bonanza with protesters blocking a distribution centre of online retail giant Amazon outside Paris and others near Lyon and Lille.

Protesters in Paris also formed a human chain at La Defense shopping mall that prevented shoppers from reaching stores, to highlight the climate costs of consumerism.

The Dutch branch of Fridays for Future said demos were taking places in around 15 cities, culminating in an evening march in Amsterdam where protesters would observe a moment's silence for victims of the climate crisis.

Several hundred young people also took to the streets of Lisbon, where Thunberg is expected to arrive shortly before making her way to Madrid.

The latest round of global climate demonstrations kicked off in bushfire-ravaged Australia, where hundreds rallied outside the Sydney offices of the Liberal party.

The target of their ire was Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who said earlier this month the suggestion "individual actions of Australia" had an impact on the fires "doesn't bear up to credible scientific evidence".

"Our government's inaction on the climate crisis has supercharged bushfires," said school strike leader Shiann Broderick, as Sydney was once again enveloped in toxic smoke from the fires.

Australia, with a population of almost 25 million, has low carbon emissions compared with the planet's biggest polluters but is one of the world's leading coal exporters.

Protests also took place in Tokyo, where hundreds marched through the teeming Shinjuku district.

"I feel a sense of crisis because almost no one in Japan is interested," said 19-year-old student Mio Ishida.

In Delhi, about 50 school and college students marched to the environment ministry in the world's most polluted capital, carrying placards and chanting slogans demanding that the government declare a climate emergency.

"This is about doing something that you believe in," said 23-year-old Saumya Chowdhury.

"We want the government to acknowledge this and have a conversation on this issue with people." India is one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gases and has 14 of the 15 most polluted cities in the world, according to a UN study.

Some 200 nations are meeting in the Spanish capital from Monday for talks on finalising the "rulebook" for the 2015 Paris climate treaty, which becomes operational in 2021.

Scientists have warned that efforts to cap warming to 1.5 Celsius (34.7 degrees Fahrenheit) are failing and that carbon emissions -- which are on the rise -- would need to fall 7.6 percent a year to meet the target.

The UN has also warned that global temperatures are on track to rise almost 4C by the end of the century, which could make some places virtually uninhabitable.

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