“The environment is priceless. I want the world I deserve,” say climate strikers across the country
This Friday, thousands of Portuguese protesters took to the streets in 30 cities to demand action against climate change. In Lisbon, from Cais do Sodré to Rossio, more than ten thousand people paraded at the closing of the Global Climate Week.
“I don’t want to live in the ashes. I want to have a future. I want to be a teacher and for that I need to have students,” says Catarina Alpoima, a 27 years old studying Fine Arts, and this Friday she was one of thousands of people who begged politicians to put the environment on their agendas and take action against climate change in a more large-scale manner.
This Friday’s global strike marks the closing of the Global Climate Week (September 20-27), in which 170 countries participated. This week’s strike was the third held by young Portuguese people since the beginning of the year. “The environment is priceless. I want the world I deserve,” they yelled in the streets.
They want to ensure carbon neutrality by 2030, they call for the closure of coal plants in the next legislature, and the end of projects that increase emissions at a national level, such as Montijo airport. In the manifesto, published on the movement’s official webpage, they also claim they want reforms to policies involving forest management, agronomy and public transport. The main targets are politicians, asking them to take concrete action, “less talk and more action”.
“The weather is warming up and the politicians are just sat back and watching,” they claim. “Finally, we have conduct the first global strike in Portugal and it is going very well: we have the support of the elders, we are committed and there are three unions on our side,” said Bianca Castro, one of the organizers of today’s demonstration.
The main difference between this protest and the previous ones is that this time it is not only young people who paraded between Cais do Sodré and Rossio in Lisbon: there are people of all ages, even though the youngsters remain in the majority.
The demonstration has the support of more than 50 organizations, such as Zero, and Amnesty International, and has been accepted by three unions, which have issued strike notices: the National Teachers Federation (Fenprof), the All Teachers Union (STOP) and the Health, Solidarity and Social Security Workers Union (STSSSS).
“Defending the planet is like Article 0 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and so we must all be together in this struggle,” Pedro Neto, director of Amnesty International in Portugal said.
“We have done things very badly and now we should be sorry. We will mend things and get the attention of those who do not realize it,” explained 11-year-old Rosa Cabral. She skipped classes and is convinced that her teacher will not have the courage to punish her. After all, in her eyes she is saving the planet. “We have to fight for our future,” she said.
If she had Lucilia Sutil, Natural Sciences teacher at the IBN Mucana School in Cascais, she could be sure that her absence would go unpunished. Mrs Sutil brought two ninth grade classes to the demonstration. “They asked. They just said they really wanted to come and it made no sense not to bring them: this is what we should teach at school.”
According to police estimates, around 20,000 people were demonstrating in the streets of the capital this afternoon. And the fight against climate change is repeated in 30 Portuguese cities across the country.
In the capital, while the demonstration was taking place, Extinction Rebellion Portugal – a well-known international movement that arrived in Portugal a year ago – joined the Global Climate Strike by forming a blockade on Almirante Reis Avenue. This is where many of those who participated in the demonstration based themselves.
Others were found patrolling the streets in order to collect the rubbish they found along the way, “because it is a manifestation for the environment, it is only right”.