Police have moved in and made their first arrests as the largest worldwide climate protest in history arrived in London today with hundreds of thousands of Brits taking part in demonstrations across the country.
Activists, many of whom carried Extinction Rebellion flags and banners, have descended on the capital as the Global Strike 4 Climate Change movement kicked off in the UK to coincide with protests all over the planet.
The Metropolitan Police said two people had been arrested in the Strand for breaching conditions imposed on the protesters which dictate they must gather in a specific place in Westminster, central London.
Schoolchildren, many of them dressed in their uniforms, joined in on more than 200 different climate events in Britain after they were urged to walk out of classes and lectures today.
Politicians have been split on whether or not pupils should be skipping lessons to attend the climate protests, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and mayor Sadiq Khan among those to commend young demonstrators.
Mr Corbyn addressed a rally of climate strikers outside Parliament and praised those who had missed lessons to attend, adding: ‘Thank you for being here to teach me and everyone else a lesson about the environment.’
State school leaders have urged youngsters not to take part, saying they understand the strength of feeling around the issue, but have concerns about pupil welfare.
But Suzie Longstaff, headmistress of the £18,900-a-year private Putney High School in south-west London, said that young people should be able to make their own decisions about whether to take part in today’s action.
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A protester is arrested by police officers stationed outside outside King’s College London as mass demonstrations hit the UK this morning
A protester is led away by police in handcuffs this morning (shown left), while an Extinction Rebellion activist is shown waving a XR flag outside King’s College London
Two protesters are placed in handcuffs outside King’s College London near the Strand as mass demonstrations kicked off in the capital today
Schoolchildren protest with banners outside parliament in London after youngsters were urged to skip lessons in order to take part in demonstrations
Youngsters take part in today’s climate change demonstrations after thousands skipped lessons and lectures this morning
Thousands of protesters gather near the Houses of Parliament for today’s climate change demonstration, where Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will speak later this afternoon
Police officers carry a protester away in the Strand after issuing section 14 notices amid mass-scale demonstrations in London today
An aerial shot from Central London shows thousands of protesters gathering during one of more 200 events across the UK this afternoon
Scottish comedian Billy Connolly was among those to lend his support to protesters marching in Glasgow this afternoon
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted an image from the protest in London and is due to address a rally of climate strikers outside Parliament, while dozens of other mass-scale events are being held up and down the country
Students carrying Extinction Rebellion banners and flags are shown marching through the streets outsude the Houses of Parliament
Police officers form a cordon outside Parliament Square, as demonstrators were asked to protest in specified areas
A young child looks out at the masses of people who gathered in central London today for the what is expected to be the world’s largest ever join climate change demonstration
Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger was among those to give their support to those taking part in the Global Climate Strike
The Global Strike For Climate in London is being held only days ahead of the scheduled United Nations Climate Change Summit in New York
Hundreds of protesters hold a ‘die-in’ at the UK Student Climate Network’s Global Climate Strike in Cambridge this afternoon
But Ms Longstaff said: ‘Every day we are educating the young people of the future to speak out and make their own decisions.
‘We are trying to provide a modern and relevant education which includes connecting to topics that they feel passionate about. We can’t pick and choose what those are.
‘I’m proud that Putney students have both a social and environmental conscience and I applaud them. Those who feel strongly about protesting will be there.’
Sylvie Craig, 11, and her friend Eva De Pear, 12, both of Shepherds Bush in west London, took the day off school and brought their mothers to the demonstration.
Sylvie said: ‘Climate change is really important. We can’t just talk about it, we have to do something about it ‘
Her mother Bay Garnett, a fashion director, said: ‘I am here for my children and all children. I think every mother feels the same. They need a healthy planet to live on.’
Eva skipped her biology lesson on Friday, saying that going to it made ‘no sense’ because ‘the planet is in real big trouble’. She said: ‘I am here to teach people a lesson instead of learning a lesson.’
Her mother Leila Amanpour said: ‘I feel that unless we come out into the streets, especially the children, the Government is not going to do anything about climate change.’
Thousands of protesters, including hundreds of children, many wearing school uniform, gathered in Birmingham’s Victoria Square before marching through nearby streets.
Meanwhile, West Mercia Police advised drivers to find alternatives routes after around 40 Extinction Rebellion members intermittently blocked traffic in Worcester.
Tweeting a photo from a climate strike in London, Mr Corbyn said: ‘Young people here and across the world are making it impossible to ignore the environment and climate emergency.
‘This is the wonderful youth Climate Strike in my constituency; now I’m on my way to the main London demonstration.’
Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson tweeted: ‘Great to see so many people the Glasgow Youth Climate March, all raising awareness of the climate crisis.
‘We demand immediate, strong action to stop irreversible damage. We must protect both our planet and future generations.’
Protesters gather ahead of the UK Student Climate Network’s Global Climate Strike at Millbank in London today
Young climate strikers across the country (pictured here in Millbank, London this morning) are taking to the streets as part of a global protest to demand urgent action to tackle climate change
Protesters hold banners as they attend the Global Climate Strike taking place outside the Houses of Parliament this morning
A sign posted on the outside of the Ben and Jerry’s store in Wardour Street, London, shows the firm’s support of the climate strikes today
Workers joined thousands of schoolchildren in taking part in the mass-scale demonstrations in London today (pictured in Westminster)
Medical professionals were shown marching near Westminster holding up banners and homemade signs declaring their support of climate intervention
State school leaders have urged youngsters not to take part, saying they understand the strength of feeling around the issue, but have concerns about pupil welfare
Students hold placards as they attend a climate change demonstration in London this morning (pictured on the lawns outside the Houses of Parliament)
London Mayor Mr Khan called on the Government to ‘step up’ action on climate change, adding: ‘I am standing in solidarity with all those who are taking part in the Global Climate Strike.
‘Here in London, City Hall staff have also been encouraged to observe the strike by taking time out of their day to send a message to the world that London demands more ambitious climate actions from governments.’
However business, energy and clean growth minister Kwasi Kwarteng said he could not endorse children leaving school to take part in the protests, which have been inspired by teenage eco-activist Greta Thunberg.
He told BBC Breakfast on Friday that he supports the ‘energy and creativity’ of students, but said time spent in school is ‘incredibly important’.
Jessica Ahmed, 16, who is studying for an International Baccalaureate had emailed her school to warn that she would be walking out on Friday.
Speaking at a protest in Westminster, Miss Ahmed of Barnet, north London, said: ‘There are no excuses in this. School is important but so is my future.
‘If politicians were taking the appropriate action we need and had been taking this action a long time ago when it was recognised the world was changing in a negative way, then I would not have to be skipping school.
‘I would be doing the maths exam I have studied for.
She called on the Government to acknowledge the severity of the climate crisis and for youth to be included in policy-making, adding ‘With so many people striking, surely Government have got to take notice?’
Slogans such as ‘if you breath air you should care’, ‘us snowflakes are melting’, ‘learn to change or learn to swim’, and ‘don’t be a fossil fool’, were among the homemade banners held aloft in the crowd.
Politicians have been split on whether or not children should be skipping lessons to attend the climate protests, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and mayor Sadiq Khan among those to praise young demonstrators
Students carrying Extinction Rebellion banners and flags are shown marching through Parliament Square in central London this afternoon
The protests in central London today are part of a snowballing movement sparked by teenage activist Greta Thunberg’s school strikes outside the Swedish parliament
Politicians have been split on whether or not students should be skipping lectures to attend the climate protests, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and mayor Sadiq Khan among those to praise young demonstrators
As protests got under way across the UK, the Metropolitan Police said two adults had been arrested on The Strand in central London – where XR Universities, an Extinction Rebellion group are holding a protest (pictured)
In Belfast, hundreds of young people took over the Corn Market area of the city centre, where they staged a colourful protest, with speeches and chants, before lying on the ground to participate in a mass ‘die-in’.
John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said the school strikers have shown that people power could move governments.
He said: ‘The rest of us now need to step up and stand with the children demanding radical, systemic change, before it’s too late.’
Metropolitan Police announced it had made a couple of arrests relating to protests this morning, adding in a tweet: ‘Two adults have been arrested in the Strand for breach of the S14 conditions.
‘We would ask everyone attending #ClimateStrike please attend Millbank, where in conjunction with the organisers we have created a safe space for protest.’
Missing a day of school for climate protest will hit your child’s exam chances, says UK’s schools minister
British schools minister Nick Gibb said the Government ‘shares young people’s passion’ for tackling climate change, but said children should not miss school to protest.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said schools need to record the absences.
He said: ‘We share the passion, as a Government, of young people for tackling climate change, and that is why this Government and this country is committed to reaching net zero greenhouse gasses by 2050.’
He added: ‘We don’t think it should be at the expense of a child’s education because what we want is for the next generation to be as well educated as possible to tackle these kinds of problems, and you don’t do that by missing out on an education.’
He said even missing out on one day of school can affect GCSE results.
The ‘Global Strike 4 Climate Change‘ rally started in Sydney this morning where Thor star Chris Hemsworth and his young daughter India joined 50,000 in a rally that saw some violent clashes between police and protesters.
Throughout the day the movement is spreading west across the world to most of the planet’s biggest cities including Hong Kong, Bangkok, Delhi, London and New York.
But in China – the world’s most polluting nation – President Xi’s government has banned the movement from protesting in its cities.
In New York, the city’s Department of Education says all its 1.1million schoolchildren can skip class to participate in the strike if they had parental consent – without any fear of punishment.
Miss Thunberg, who has been nominated for a Nobel prize for her climate activism, will spearhead a rally at the United Nations headquarters in the city later.
As the sea of people made their way through the city, some school students on scooters could be seen heading in the opposite direction, while there was some fighting between protesters and police.
Others could be seen scribbling their signs on old pieces of cardboard on the footpath as they waited for the event to begin.’.
Britons joining the climate strikes can expect a day of unseasonably warm weather on Friday as they call on businesses and politicians to cut emissions.
Children and young people are preparing to walk out of lessons and lectures, with hundreds of thousands of workers expected to join them.
The protests are part of a snowballing movement sparked by teenage activist Greta Thunberg’s school strikes outside the Swedish parliament.
It comes ahead of a climate action summit in New York convened by UN secretary general Antonio Guterres to urge countries to up their climate efforts.
Much steeper measures are needed across the globe to prevent temperature rises of more than 1.5C (2.7F) or 2C (3.6F) to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
Sydney: A protester clashes with police during the climate rally in the Australian city on Friday before he was arrested and removed from the area
Sydney: Children chanting for change march through Australia’s largest city today as the ‘Global Strike 4 Climate Change’ began
Sydney: In Australia today 300,000 people have taken part including more than 50,000 people in Sydney with Thor star Chris Hemsworth and his young daughter India among those who flooded the streets
Canberra: A baby takes part in the The Global Strike 4 Climate rally with his parents displaying a warning about the extinction of animals in his car seat
Marovo Island, Solomon Islands: Students in traditional dress gathered on the South Pacific Ocean took part in a march along the beach
Bangkok: Marchers in Thailand decided to block the roads outside the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment as they demanded action
Hong Kong: Protesters carrying coffins and placards accusing governments of ‘ecocide’ march through Hong Kong’s famous harbour
Indonesia: Youths walk with signs through the main road during a Global Climate Strike rally as smog covers the city due to the forest fires in Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan province
As if to underline the urgency of the issues, the mercury is set to hit 26C (78.8F) this weekend – 8C(46.4F) above average for the time of year.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: ‘It is unbelievable that we should need global strike action for the future of our planet to be taken seriously.
‘The stark reality is that our climate is changing rapidly and we are running out of time to address it.’
He promised strikers his full support, adding that City Hall had been invited to observe the strike themselves.
‘I hope governments around the world who are failing to take action hear the voices of millions of people, young and old, unified in their call for action to save our planet. Our future depends on it,’ he said.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is due to address a rally of climate strikers outside Parliament on Friday, while other events are being held up and down the country.
The UK Student Climate Network (UKSCN) says more than 200 events are taking place across the UK, with – for the first time – adults being encouraged to join the youngsters as they strike.
UKSCN is calling on politicians to bring in a ‘Green New Deal’ to cut the UK’s emissions to zero and improve lives, changes to education to equip youngsters to deal with the climate crisis and votes at 16 to give them a voice.
Bali: People display placards during a rally as part of a global climate change campaign at Sanur beach on Indonesia’s resort island
Dhaka: Bangladeshi students join the protest and claim world leaders are ‘acting like children’ over climate change
Berlin: Activists chose to cycle to block traffic at Ernst-Reuter-Platz square as they take part in the Global Climate Strike
Brisbane: Millions of people from across the globe are expected to walk out of work and school as part of ‘Strike 4 Climate Action’ which will be held in 150 countries on September 20
Sydney: Two young girls climb a pole as thousands gathered in the centre of the city as part of global mass day of action
Sydney: A man clashes with police during the climate rally in Sydney on Friday. He was arrested and removed from the area
Sydney: Parents took their children out of school to take part in the protest. However, acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack said students should be in school as it was ‘just a disruption’
Among the many trade unions throwing their weight behind the strikes are the TUC Congress, the University and College Union and Unite.
Some businesses are actively supporting their workers to take action, with outdoor clothing company Patagonia closing stores and offices globally, and taking out adverts to support the strikers.
The Co-operative Bank has also teamed up with Unite to support its workforce to take part in the climate strikes around the country.
Worldwide, there are more than 4,600 events in 139 countries taking place as part of the Fridays for Future movement between Friday September 20 and 27, and campaign group 350.org says more than 70 unions, 500 organisations and 1,000 companies have come out in support of the strikes.
Muna Suleiman, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said most people wanted to fix the climate crisis but politicians needed to act.
She said: ‘Right when we need our leaders to step up, they continue to let us down.
‘From filling the skies with more planes, to backing fracking in the UK and funding oil and gas projects abroad.
‘That’s why we’re standing shoulder to shoulder with young people to call on our politicians to deliver emergency climate action now. And we’re asking everyone to join us.’
Sydney: The Global Strike 4 Climate will on Friday take place in 110 towns and cities across Australia, with organisers demanding government and business commit to a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2030
Sydney: More than 50,000 people flooded Sydney’s streets as they made their way to the Domain to take part in the demonstration calling for governments and businesses to commit to a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2030
‘Can’t eat money, can’t drink money’: Protesters take to the streets in Sydney as part of the rally which happened across the globe on Friday
Brisbane (left) and Melbourne (right): More than 300,000 Australians have chosen to take part in the Global Strike 4 Climate
In Australia there were hundreds of young people proving their dedication to the cause as they carried artistic placards they had made the night before, which read: ‘Time is almost up’ and ‘There is no Planet B’
Sydney: A young girl sits on a man’s shoulders during the Sydney protest on Friday. She held a sign which read: ‘There is no planet B’
Sydney: Children allowed out of school chant and throw their arms in the air during the world’s biggest planned climate protests
Sydney: Thousands of protesters turned out for the climate strike on Friday. This woman wore green and wrapped a vine around her neck for the cause
Bangkok: Thai people protest in front of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment
Bangkok: Children with megaphones demand their politicians make changes to protect the future of the planet
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