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CLIMATE CHANGE

Swedish teen climate activist rallies students in Hamburg

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg who has sparked school strikes worldwide against global warming joined thousands of students in the northern German city Friday, urging them to stay angry and fight for change.

Swedish teen climate activist rallies students in Hamburg
The young activist Greta Thunberg stands in Hamburg's main square, with a sign in Swedish proclaiming a school strike for the climate. Photo: DPA

“Yes, we are angry. We are angry because the older generations are continuing to steal our future right now,” the 16-year-old activist told a cheering crowd from a stage in Hamburg.

“For way too long the politicians and the people in power have gotten away with not doing anything to fight the climate crisis,” she said.

SEE ALSO: Meet the 15-year-old Swedish girl on strike from school for the climate

“But we will make sure that they will not get away with it any longer. We will continue to school-strike until they do something.”

Her short speech drew loud applause in the northern port city, where police say some 4,000 demonstrators hit the streets, carrying signs that read “No more excuses, it's time to save our world” and “The climate is changing, why aren't we?”.

The Local looks at the movement sparked by Thurnberg. Video by Catherine Edwards. 

Other placards paid tribute to the Swedish teenager with slogans like “Make the world Greta again” and “Team Greta”, adorned with a drawing of her trademark braids.

With the “Fridays for Future” school strikes, Thunberg has inspired a global movement that began with her solitary protest outside the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm last August.

Since then, tens of thousands of pupils in cities across Europe and as far away as Australia, Uganda, Mexico and the United States have walked out of their Friday classes to push for more ambitious carbon-cutting targets.

Now the face of her generation's climate activism, Thunberg has used her current school holidays to join protests elsewhere, marching in Paris, Brussels and Antwerp.

She has also taken her message to world leaders directly in recent months,  including at an EU conference last week where she urged the bloc to double its ambitions for greenhouse gas cuts.

Under the 2015 Paris deal to cap the rise in global warming to well below 2 
degrees Celsius, the European Union has pledged to cut emissions by at least  40 percent by 2030, compared to 1990.

Thunberg standing in front of Hamburg's Rathaus, or town hall. Photo: DPA

The “Fridays for Future” movement is planning a coordinated, global strike on March 15th that promises to be the biggest mobilisation in the campaign to date.

The school strikes have since December gained particularly strong momentum in Germany — a country that despite its green reputation is a major emitter of greenhouse gases, in part because of its ongoing reliance on coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel.

A government-appointed committee recently urged Germany to shut down its  coal-fired power plants by 2038 but critics say that isn't fast enough.

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CLIMATE

‘Winter that never arrived’ nears end for Nordic countries

Northern European countries known for skiing and other snowy pursuits are poised to record one of the warmest winters ever after weeks of unseasonably high temperatures.

'Winter that never arrived' nears end for Nordic countries
Flooded fields in Himmerland, Denmark, on February 26th. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

In Sweden's capital Stockholm, cherry trees bloomed in January as much of the country recorded temperatures six to seven degrees Celsius higher than normal since December.

“It is the warmest winter in recorded history in southern and central Sweden,” the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) said in a statement to AFP.

Sweden's neighbours Norway, Denmark and Finland have also seen high temperatures.

Some companies have practically given away ski suits, bonnets and other winter attire well before the season ends.

In Uppsala, about 70 kilometres north of Stockholm, this is the warmest winter since 1722, or nearly 300 years.

Across the border in Finland, more than half of the country recorded the mildest January ever. Temperatures were seven to eight degrees higher than average, the country's meteorological institute said.

Norway experienced its mildest winter since record keeping began in 1900. Temperatures exceeded the seasonal norm by 4.5 degrees.

The same goes for Denmark, the southernmost country in the region. Winter, which officially ended on the last day of February, saw temperatures that were five degrees above normal.

“If this winter remains etched in the collective memory, it will be as the winter which never arrived,” said Mikael Scharling, of the Danish Meteorological Institute.

READ ALSO:

Unusual in places that are wild about winter sports, capitals like Oslo, Stockholm and Helsinki saw little to no snow in January.

“We have just experienced the first Jan-Feb period on record without any measurable snow in Helsinki,” said Mika Rantanen, of the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

“I think that is quite extraordinary,” Rantanen said.

A figurehead in the campaign against climate change, Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg has taken to Twitter to voice her concerns.

“Stockholm just experienced its warmest winter ever recorded (since measures began 1756),” Thunberg tweeted.

It has also been one of the wettest winters across northern Europe.

Seventy percent more precipitation than normal hit Norway, according to theNorwegian Meteorological Institute.

Sweden has also suffered.

“The worst flooding is in the southwest parts of Sweden, where a lot of farm land… is soaked in water,” said Ulf Wallin, spokesman for Sweden's agriculture federation LRF.

“For many farmers the autumn sowing of winter wheat has been destroyed,”Wallin said.

“The warm winter can leach the soil and we even have seen plants begin to bloom that we never seen so early before.”

If the situation improves, the LRF expects to see normal crop yields for 2020 but still lower than those in 2019.

In Denmark, floods today threaten nearly half a million buildings across the country and much farmland but exact figures have yet to be tallied.

 

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