Thousands of activists from around the globe will simultaneously hit the streets of Madrid and Santiago on Friday to demand urgent action on the climate crisis from world leaders attending the COP25 summit.
The main march will take place in Madrid on the sidelines of the UN climate conference, with a simultaneous rally in the Chilean capital, which had been due to host the 12-day gathering but was forced to pull out due to deadly anti-government protests.
Teen eco-warrior Greta Thunberg — who refuses to fly because of the carbon emissions involved — was also expected to join the rally after making a nearly three-week journey across the Atlantic by catamaran.
She made a appearance at the climate conference after she arrived in Madrid on Friday morning following a 10-hour overnight train trip from Lisbon, joining dozens of other youths taking part in a sit-in.
“Power to the people! ‘Cause the people’s got the power!” they chanted.
Thunberg, who has over six million followers on Twitter and Instagram, is scheduled to give a press conference later Friday.
The COP25 summit opened on Monday with a stark warning from the UN about the “utterly inadequate” efforts of the world’s major economies to curb carbon pollution, with protesters due to deliver their own message when the march begins at 1700 GMT.
Under the slogan “The world has woken up to the climate emergency”, tens of thousands of activists are expected to join the five-kilometre (three-mile) march from Madrid’s Atocha train station which will feature a significant number of Chilean groups.
Thunberg, who has become famous for galvanizing a generation of youngsters to fight for the environment, had been en route to Chile when the venue was changed, forcing her to hitch a ride back to Europe.
Oscar-winning Spanish actor Javier Bardem, a vocal environmental activist, will also be at the protest, which will feature speeches, music and cultural performances.
The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, said on the eve of the rally that he supported “young people’s protests at government’s inaction over the climate crisis”.
“Taking care of our planet, is a matter of looking after our own home,” he added in a tweet.
“We know it will be massive, we hope there will be hundreds of thousands of people in the street demanding urgent action,” march spokesman Pablo Chamorro told reporters.
“2019 has, without doubt, been the year in which people have woken up about the climate.”
Friday’s march is going to be “an important global moment”, said Estefania Gonzalez, spokeswoman for Civil Society for Climate Action (SCAC) representing more than 150 Chilean and international groups.
“I come from Chile, a country where an avocado tree has more right to water than a person,” she told reporters.
The furious protests gripping Chile over social and economic inequality were “directly related to the environmental crisis”, she said of the most severe wave of unrest since Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship ended nearly 30 years ago.
“Today, climate action means social equality, it’s not possible to have social equality without environmental equality,” she said.