'We can still turn this around,' Thunberg tells rally, 'We demand change, and we are the change.'

Tens of thousands of environmental activists staged a rally outside Germany’s parliament Friday, two days before the country holds a national election, to demand that politicians take stronger action to curb climate change, the Associated Press reports.

The protest outside the Reichstag in Berlin was part of a string of rallies around the world amid dire warnings the planet faces dangerous temperature rises unless greenhouse gas emissions are cut sharply in the coming years.

The idea for a global “climate strike” was inspired by teenage Swedish activist Greta Thunberg’s solo protest in Stockholm three years ago. It snowballed into a mass movement until the coronavirus pandemic put a stop to large gatherings. Activists have only recently started staging smaller gatherings.

Thunberg, 18, addressed the Berlin rally from a stage, telling the crowd that voting is important but must be coupled with protests that put politicians under constant pressure.

“We can still turn this around,” she said to cheers. “We demand change, and we are the change.”

Thunberg and prominent German climate activist Luisa Neubauer accused politicians of falling short, saying the programs of the main parties weren’t far-reaching enough to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) – the more ambitious limit in the 2015 Paris climate accord.

German activists have referred to Sunday’s election as the “vote of the century,” arguing that the decision taken by the next government will influence the country’s efforts to tackle climate change for decades to come. The issue has been a major topic during the election campaign.

Friday’s rally was a multi-generational event, drawing school-age participants as well as adults. Rene Bohrenfeldt, an IT expert taking part in the Berlin rally, said he hoped older Germans would consider the issue when casting their votes on Sunday.

“The majority of voters are older than 50 and determine the outcome of the election,” Bohrenfeldt, 36, said. “I appeal to all grandmothers to make the right decision for the climate and for their grandchildren.”

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