New wave of climate protest begins across the world

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Greek students and activists of environmental organisations hold placards and shout slogans during a Global Climate Strike rally of the movement Fridays for Future in Athens, Greece, September 20, 2019. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
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Wellington: Hundreds of thousands of people around the world took to the streets on Friday in the latest wave of strikes to demand urgent action on climate change.

Last week, millions walked out of schools and workplaces in countries including Ireland, Germany, India, Nepal and Australia to voice their concerns about the detrimental impact of climate change.

Organisers said they were expecting another huge turnout, with demonstrations planned from Canada to the Netherlands, Sweden to Morocco, Italy to India.

The latest round of protests will culminate in a rally in Montreal, Canada, where Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg is scheduled to speak, according to media reports.

Thunberg, credited with inspiring the school strikes, this week slammed world leaders for a lack of climate change policies at the UN Climate Action summit in New York. She and 15 other children later filed a complaint against five countries over the climate crisis.

In New Zealand, scores of protests were held, with students carrying signs, including, "We're skipping our lessons, so we can teach you one" and "You can't comb over climate change".

An open-letter signed by 11,000 New Zealanders was delivered to the country's Parliament on Friday morning calling on the government to declare a climate emergency - following the lead of numerous councils around the country.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who is in New York at the climate summit, on Thursday announced she had support from four other countries for a proposed new trade agreement to combat climate change.

Ardern said negotiations would begin with Norway, Iceland, Costa Rica and Fiji in 2020, adding that she hoped other nations would sign on.

Organiser School Strike for Climate NZ posted on Twitter that it had received credible reports that 170,000 people were striking nationwide, a figure that would represent 3.5 per cent of the country's population.

As part of the Earth Strike events, big demonstrations were also expected in South America from Mexico City's Zócalo square to the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires.

According to activists, Plaza Italia in Santiago, Chile, will be flooded with demonstrators from Friday evening, while protests will be staged in cities in Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay around the rim of the Amazon rainforest.

More than 30 events have been planned in Argentina, where crowds will be marching across the capital from the Plaza de Mayo to the seat of the national congress.

About 500 students in the South Korean capital, Seoul, urged more government action to address climate change, marching towards the presidential Blue House after a downtown rally, where they said the government gets an "F" in climate action.

Thunberg went viral in 2018 when she abstained from school in Sweden to raise awareness of the climate crisis. The 16-year-old's demonstrations outside Swedish Parliament inspired the #FridaysForFuture movement, prompting environmental activists across the world to take part in school strikes on Fridays.

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