Thousands across Switzerland rally for climate action

Young people around the world have been pressuring politicians to act on climate change, normally gathering on Fridays, a school day. © Keystone

Tens of thousands of protesters took part in youth-led climate strikes across Switzerland on Saturday. The movement demands action against climate change and global warming.

This content was published on April 7, 2019 - 00:00

The largest demonstration took place in financial hub Zurich, where more than 15,000 people answered the call of the climate strike movement, according to organisers cited by Swiss news agency Keystone-SDA. 

Demonstrations in Lausanne and the Swiss capital, Bern, drew more than 8,000 people each. Another 3,000 rallied in Geneva. Protests in the northeastern city of St Gallen and the central city of Lucerne drew 1,500 and 5,000 people respectively, according to organisers.

"The demands of the climate strike are ambitious, but necessary and feasible," explained Jan Burckhardt, a high-school student from Bern. "It is purely a matter of will whether we listen to the voice of science or not."

On Saturday morning, hundreds of demonstrators marched through the city centres of Aarau, Biel and Thun. Winterthur was another protest hub. Authorities in the city of Sion did not approve the climate demonstration. 

Parents welcome

For the first time, the demonstrations were held on a Saturday rather than a Friday in a bid to allow working adults to participate. Parents were explicitly invited.

Demonstrators of all ages came out to lend support to what marks the fourth climate strike staged in Switzerland.

Tens of thousands of people throughout Switzerland, particularly in university towns, took part in the previous major event which was held on March 15. The movement has been driven by young people and school-age children, with many scientists and parents rallying behind them. 

  + What do Swiss scientists have to say on the issue?

Basel, Olten and Delémont have declared a climate emergency. Canton Vaud has done the same. 

The inspiration behind the school strike movement that’s bringing young people onto the streets all over Europe is Greta Thunberg. 

The 16-year-old Swedish climate activist made her mark at the WEF 2019 in Davos, telling corporate executives: “I don’t want you to be hopeful, I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day."

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