Climate youth fill the streets to #StandWithUkraine

#StandWithUkraine protest in Hamburg on March 3
An estimated 120,000 people took part in the Fridays for Future protest in solidarity with Ukraine in Hamburg, Germany on March 34. Photo: Fridays for Future/Twitter

Young climate campaigners with Fridays for Future took to the streets across the globe on March 3 to stand with the people of Ukraine and call for a world that prioritises peace and freedom from fossil fuels for all.

As Ukrainian forces and civilians fought Russian invaders who have been accused of war crimes, members of the youth-led movement — who generally hold school strikes on Fridays, inspired by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg — carried signs that said #StandWithUkraine and #NoMoreWars.

Demonstrators also used the hashtags to share updates on social media.

"The struggle over resources, especially oil and natural gas, has been intensifying and creating conflicts and wars all over the world. The Ukrainian war, causing a huge humanitarian crisis, is fueled by the power of fossil fuels," the global movement said Thursday in a series of tweets.

Fridays for Future noted that "the world is watching Ukraine today, after ignoring the wars in South Sudan, Iraq, Nigeria, and the many regions in the Global South that have been affected by imperialist and fossil fuels wars during the last decades."

"While Ukrainians deserve immediate peace and all our support, so do the people from Afghanistan, Libya, Syrian, Yemen, and all [war-torn] regions," the group declared. "Empathy, justice, and compassion should be for everyone. Refugees should not have to be white to be heard and seen."

As Common Dreams reported, Western media has come under fire for coverage of the crisis in Ukraine featuring what the Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association condemned as "orientalist and racist implications that any population or country is 'uncivilized' or bears economic factors that make it worthy of conflict."

"This is an eye-opening moment for humanity to see that the world is aflame with new and old wars caused by fossil fuels," said Fridays for Future. "People only desire to live and exist safely. Let it become a door-opening moment where we demand justice for everyone independent of their nationality and skin color."

"That's why we're taking to the streets of cities all over the world to highlight the need for urgent, decisive action against Fossil Wars," the group continued. "We want to call out the era of fossil fuel, capitalism, and imperialism that allows these systemic oppressions. We demand a world where leaders prioritize #PeopleNotProfit."

Other advocates of keeping fossil fuels in the ground have also issued fresh calls for a swift transition to renewable energy, framing the move as essential for world peace, since Putin—whose country in responsible for about 10% of the world's oil supply—announced the long-awaited invasion.

According to Deutsche Welle, "Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched in several German cities on Thursday to demand an end to the war in Ukraine."

German Fridays for Future activist Luisa Neubauer told a crowd in Hamburg that "nothing and no one will stop us rising up, making our voices heard, and showing solidarity — just the way autocrats hate."

While police initially estimated the Hamburg demonstration at 20,000 people, activists said it reached 120,000.

Protests were held in various other cities worldwide, from India and Nigeria to Poland and Sierre Leone.

Some activists also joined the demonstration online — including youth from Ukraine and Russia.

"We hereby express our solidarity with Ukraine and Ukrainians," Fridays for Future Russia tweeted Wednesday, promoting the planned actions. "All wars are battles for resources, including this one in Ukraine. Putin is trying to keep the status quo in which petroleum rules, but the era of fossil fuels is coming to an end."

"Societies that depend on fossil fuels provided by autocrats cannot be safe," the organization added. "We need international political mobilization. Everyone worldwide should take a stand against war. There's no such thing as neutrality in war."

[Abridged from Common Dreams.]