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Activists stage global climate protests and speak out against war in Ukraine

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Climate activists staged a 10th round of global protests on Friday to demand leaders take stronger action on global warming, with some linking their environmental message to calls for an end to the war in Ukraine.

The Fridays for Future movement, inspired by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, has called for protests from Indonesia to Europe and the United States.

In Jakarta, activists dressed in red robes and held signs calling for “system change, not climate change“.

Others held a banner reading “G-20, stop funding our extinction,” a reference to the fact that the Group of 20 largest developed and emerging economies account for around 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Indonesia will host the group’s next summit this fall.

In Rome, protesters carried a giant inflatable globe through the streets and a banner reading “Get Schools, Not War”.

Some 300 protests were planned in Germany, which took in around 250,000 Ukrainian refugees last month.

Thousands of mostly young people, many carrying the yellow and blue national flag of Ukraine, marched through Berlin’s government district to the Brandenburg Gate, a symbol of the Cold War division between the East and the West.

Among those speaking at the Berlin rally were two young Russian activists, who denounced their government’s actions in Ukraine.

“There are many Russians who are against [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, and they don’t support what Putin is doing,” Polina Oleinikova told The Associated Press.

Oleinikova, 19, said people who speak out against the government in Russia “risk being imprisoned on a daily basis”.

“It’s very scary and we’re scared, but we still have [doing] our activism because we think it’s very important,” she said. “It’s the right thing to do and we won’t stop.”

Fellow climate activist Arshak Makichyan said the war in Ukraine and sanctions imposed on Russia by the West were also having a drastic effect on the Russian economy.

“Everything we had is falling apart,” he said, adding that he hoped Putin would be forced out and brought to justice.

Ilyess El Kortbi, a 25-year-old who helped set up Fridays for Future Ukraine, praised fellow Russian activists for speaking out.

“They’re doing the best they can,” he said. “Even though their regime is authoritarian and truly repressive, they continue to stand with us against Putin.”

El Kortbi, who managed to flee just before the Russian advance reached his hometown of Kharkiv, called on Germany and other European countries to stop buying fossil fuels from Russia.

“The war in Ukraine could end at any time,” he said. “The [European Union] and above all Germany just has to stop funding it.

That message was echoed by many Germans on the march, frustrated that their country is paying tens of millions of dollars a day to buy fossil fuels that are contributing to Moscow’s war chest even as the burning of oil, gas and coal harms the planet.

“We are here today to show that peace and climate justice go hand in hand,” said Clara Duvigneau, a student from Berlin.

She said Germany should invest in renewable energy rather than seek alternative sources of oil and gas from places such as the Persian Gulf or the United States.

“We want the energy transition to happen as quickly as possible,” Duvigneau said.

Several hundred young people gathered in Paris, marching from the domed Left Bank Pantheon to Place de la Bastille.

They carried signs reading “Wake up” with a drawing of an Earth on fire, calling on French presidential candidates to do more to fight climate change, or accusing the French oil company TotalEnergies of getting closer to Putin for his refusal to withdraw from Russia.

In Washington, protesters gathered in Lafayette Square across from the White House before marching to the US Capitol.

A few hundred young people showed up, many carrying placards and placards, including one that read, “Fossil Fuels Fund War. Green energy now.

Sophia Geiger, 19, an activist with Fridays for Future, said she wants President Biden to declare a national climate emergency – a repeated request from environmental groups since Biden took office.

Geiger, who is taking a year off from his studies to focus on climate action, said: “While he recognizes that this is a crisis, he doesn’t act like it.”