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Students in France call for climate change strike

Students in France have called for a strike as they protest against what they call “inaction from the government” over climate change.

The budding movement has called on all students - including young people from collège (middle school) and lycée (high school) - to strike on Friday March 15. They suggest that students do not go to school that day, and gather in protest to put pressure on authorities.

Some students in Paris have even suggested that they should not attend school today (Friday February 22), and protests are taking place outside the ministry for Ecological Transition in the capital.

Other protests and strikes have been scheduled in at least 49 other towns and cities for next Friday. The full list can be seen on the movement website, (“there is still time”).

French students are the latest to join the global “Fridays For Future” or "Vendredis Verts (Green Fridays)" strike movement, after similar protests took place in Belgium, Australia, Germany, Holland, Germany, and Switzerland.

According to one calculation, more than 70,000 students have already gone on strike in 270 towns worldwide.

The initiative was first launched by Swedish 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, who became well known in her country after she began to protest by herself outside the Swedish parliament every week. She was later invited to international economic forum Davos and UN climate change conference COP24.

Ms Thunberg has said: “I want you to feel the fear that I feel everyday. And I want you to act."

A statement on the Facebook page Youth for Climate in France read: “No-one wants to study or work for a future that does not exist. We - collège, lycée [and all] students - have something to say about the inaction from most of our leaders. It is our future that is at stake.”

In France, the protest was first launched by a small group, inspired by Ms Thunberg.

Maël Gauduchon, lycée student and one of the movement’s leaders in France, said: “We have all heard of Greta. She is a great person and we all want to follow her.

“We all had the same sort of idea here, and we all got in touch over social media, and we decided to join forces to create a national call for a strike on March 15.”

Ms Gauduchon added: “The Paris Agreement is a very good thing, but it is not being respected and does not go far enough. We want to put pressure on public authorities. When I see [French minister for Ecology] François de Rugy, earlier [on the news] say that ecology is about ‘individual actions’, I say to myself that cannot be an [adequate] response.”

The students are now calling on the government to proclaim a “state of ecological emergency”, and have also invited older people and non-students to join their protest.

Solenn Marc, another lycée student, said: “We are not excluding anyone, because the question of climate change affects absolutely everyone. But we are aware that it has been years that nothing has changed. And, as Greta said, if adults do not take responsibility, we must take it for them.”

Mr de Rugy has responded to the students today, saying that he cannot support the call to strike, but that he is supportive of the movement overall.

He said: “I am very happy that young people, and many other citizens, want us to do more for the climate. I think that we can march together, hand in hand, for the climate.

“I am a father, so I will not call [on students] to strike [but they] should begin by convincing their parents.

“If the students bring society with them towards a resolution that is both a public movement and also the responsibility of each individual, we will be able to move even faster in the fight against global warming.”

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