Hundreds of schoolchildren take part in a climate protest in Hong Kong. The coordinated 'school strike' was inspired by 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg, who began holding solitary demonstrations outside the Swedish parliament last year. Picture: Kin Cheung/AP
Hundreds of schoolchildren take part in a climate protest in Hong Kong. The coordinated 'school strike' was inspired by 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg, who began holding solitary demonstrations outside the Swedish parliament last year. Picture: Kin Cheung/AP
Activist Greta Thunberg, foreground, participates in a climate protest, in central Stockholm Sweden. Picture: Pontus Lundahl/TT News Agency via AP
Activist Greta Thunberg, foreground, participates in a climate protest, in central Stockholm Sweden. Picture: Pontus Lundahl/TT News Agency via AP
Students participate in a climate protest, at Stortorget in Lund, Sweden. Picture: Johan Nilsson /TT News Agency via AP
Students participate in a climate protest, at Stortorget in Lund, Sweden. Picture: Johan Nilsson /TT News Agency via AP
High school students demonstrate outside the Pantheon monument in Paris. Picture: Francois Mori/AP
High school students demonstrate outside the Pantheon monument in Paris. Picture: Francois Mori/AP
Students attend a protest ralley of the 'Friday For Future Movement' in Berlin, Germany. Picture: Michael Sohn/AP
Students attend a protest ralley of the 'Friday For Future Movement' in Berlin, Germany. Picture: Michael Sohn/AP
Young demonstrators gather on the steps of the Helsinki Cathedral, prior to the start of a protest march of Finnish youth calling for climate protection. Picture: Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtikuva via AP
Young demonstrators gather on the steps of the Helsinki Cathedral, prior to the start of a protest march of Finnish youth calling for climate protection. Picture: Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtikuva via AP
Indian students from different institutions participate in a climate protest in Hyderabad. Picture: Mahesh Kumar A/AP
Indian students from different institutions participate in a climate protest in Hyderabad. Picture: Mahesh Kumar A/AP
Students take part in a protest against climate change, in Aarhus, Denmark. Picture: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix via AP
Students take part in a protest against climate change, in Aarhus, Denmark. Picture: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix via AP
Hundreds of schoolchildren take part in a climate protest in Hong Kong. Picture: Kin Cheung/AP
Hundreds of schoolchildren take part in a climate protest in Hong Kong. Picture: Kin Cheung/AP
Students in more than 80 countries and territories worldwide skipped class Friday in protest over their governments' failure to act against global warming. Picture: Kin Cheung/AP
Students in more than 80 countries and territories worldwide skipped class Friday in protest over their governments' failure to act against global warming. Picture: Kin Cheung/AP
A student holds up a sign with writing reading in Italian "Lets save the planet", during a demonstration outside the Castello Sforzesco castle in Milan, Italy. Picture: Luca Bruno/AP
A student holds up a sign with writing reading in Italian "Lets save the planet", during a demonstration outside the Castello Sforzesco castle in Milan, Italy. Picture: Luca Bruno/AP
Young demonstrators gather at the Finnish Parliament during a protest march of Finnish youth calling for climate protection, in Helsinki. Picture: Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtikuva via AP
Young demonstrators gather at the Finnish Parliament during a protest march of Finnish youth calling for climate protection, in Helsinki. Picture: Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtikuva via AP
A participant holds a sign during a rally for global climate strike for future in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, March 15, 2019. About 150 students and other protesters attended a rally to protest their governments' failure to take sufficient action against climate change. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
A participant holds a sign during a rally for global climate strike for future in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, March 15, 2019. About 150 students and other protesters attended a rally to protest their governments' failure to take sufficient action against climate change. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Students hold signs during a rally for global climate strike for future in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, March 15, 2019. About 150 students and other protesters attended a rally to protest their governments' failure to take sufficient action against climate change. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Students hold signs during a rally for global climate strike for future in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, March 15, 2019. About 150 students and other protesters attended a rally to protest their governments' failure to take sufficient action against climate change. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
A boy wearing a mask sits behind a banner during a rally for global climate strike for future in Seoul, South Korea. Picture: Lee Jin-man/AP
A boy wearing a mask sits behind a banner during a rally for global climate strike for future in Seoul, South Korea. Picture: Lee Jin-man/AP
Participants march during a rally for global climate strike for future in Seoul, South Korea. About 150 students and other protesters attended a rally to protest their governments' failure to take sufficient action against climate change. Picture: Lee Jin-man/AP
Participants march during a rally for global climate strike for future in Seoul, South Korea. About 150 students and other protesters attended a rally to protest their governments' failure to take sufficient action against climate change. Picture: Lee Jin-man/AP
Adults stand in solidarity with Indian students in a climate protest in Hyderabad, India, Friday, March 15, 2019. Students in more than 80 countries and territories worldwide plan to skip class Friday in protest over their governments' failure to act against global warming. The coordinated 'school strike' was inspired by 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg, who began holding solitary demonstrations outside the Swedish parliament last year. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.)
Adults stand in solidarity with Indian students in a climate protest in Hyderabad, India, Friday, March 15, 2019. Students in more than 80 countries and territories worldwide plan to skip class Friday in protest over their governments' failure to act against global warming. The coordinated 'school strike' was inspired by 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg, who began holding solitary demonstrations outside the Swedish parliament last year. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.)
Students take part in a protest against climate change, in Aarhus, Denmark. Picture: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix via AP
Students take part in a protest against climate change, in Aarhus, Denmark. Picture: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix via AP
A young demonstrator holds a placard reading 'We are the last generation that can effect', prior to the start of a protest march of Finnish youth calling for climate protection, in Helsinki. Picture: Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtikuva via AP
A young demonstrator holds a placard reading 'We are the last generation that can effect', prior to the start of a protest march of Finnish youth calling for climate protection, in Helsinki. Picture: Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtikuva via AP
Students in Cape Town take part in a protest as part of a global student strike against government inaction on climate change. Picture: Nasief Manie/AP
Students in Cape Town take part in a protest as part of a global student strike against government inaction on climate change. Picture: Nasief Manie/AP
Activist Greta Thunberg, foreground, participates in a climate protest, in central Stockholm Sweden. Picture: Pontus Lundahl/TT News Agency via AP
Activist Greta Thunberg, foreground, participates in a climate protest, in central Stockholm Sweden. Picture: Pontus Lundahl/TT News Agency via AP
High school students demonstrate outside the Pantheon monument in Paris. Picture: Francois Mori/AP
High school students demonstrate outside the Pantheon monument in Paris. Picture: Francois Mori/AP
Students attend a demonstrate during a "Climate strike" protest in Lausanne, Switzerland. Picture: Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone via AP
Students attend a demonstrate during a "Climate strike" protest in Lausanne, Switzerland. Picture: Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone via AP
Students gather in front of the monument of the Unknown Soldier to demand action on climate change, in Rome. Picture: Andrew Medichini/AP
Students gather in front of the monument of the Unknown Soldier to demand action on climate change, in Rome. Picture: Andrew Medichini/AP

BERLIN (AP) — From the South Pacific to the edge of the Arctic Circle, students mobilized by word of mouth and social media skipped class Friday to protest what they believe are their governments' failure to take though action against global warming.

The coordinated 'school strikes,' were inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who began holding solitary demonstrations outside the Swedish parliament last year.

Since then, the weekly protests have snowballed from a handful of cities to hundreds, fueled by

Thunberg, who was recently

Friday's rallies are expected to be one of the biggest international actions yet. Protests were underway or planned in cities in more than 100 countries, including Hong Kong; New Delhi; Wellington, New Zealand; and Oulu, Finland.

— In Berlin some 10,000 protesters, most of them young students, gathered in a downtown square, waving signs with slogans such as "March now or swim later" and "Climate Protection Report Card: F," before marching through the capital's government quarter and a planned stop in front of Chancellor Angela Merkel's office.

— In Poland, thousands marched in rainy Warsaw and other cities to demand a ban on the burning of coal, which is a major source of carbon dioxide. Some wore face masks as they carried banners that read "Today's Air Smells Like the Planet's Last Days" and "Make Love Not CO2."

— In India's capital New Delhi, schoolchildren protested inaction on climate change and rising air pollution levels that often far exceeds World Health Organization limits.

— About 50 students protested in South Africa's capital, Pretoria, chanting "There's No Planet B." One protester held a sign reading "You'll Miss The Rains Down in Africa." Experts say Africa, with its population of more than 1 billion people, is expected to be hardest hit by global warming even though it contributes least to the greenhouse gas emissions that cause it.

— In Helsinki, police said about 3,000 students had gathered in front of Finland's Parliament sporting placards such as: "Dinosaurs thought they had time too!"

A website used to coordinate the rallies listed events in over 2,000 cities.

Carla Reemtsma, a 20-year-old university student who helped organize the protest in Berlin, said she's part of about 50 WhatsApp groups devoted to discussing climate change.

"A lot happens on social media because you can reach a lot of young people very quickly and show them: look there's lot of us," she told The Associated Press. "There's a very low threshold so we reach a huge number of people."

"I think that's how we managed to get so big," said Reemtsma.

Many protesters in Berlin took aim at politicians such as the leader of Germany's pro-business Free Democratic Party, Christian Lindner, for suggesting that complicated issues such as climate change were "a matter for professionals" not students.

Others, including Germany's economy minister, Peter Altmaier, have urged students to stage the protests outside school hours.

By contrast, scientists have backed the protests, with thousands signing petitions in support of the students in Britain, Finland, Germany and the United States.

Volker Quaschning, a professor of engineering at Berlin's University of Applied Sciences, said it was easy for politicians to belittle students.

"That's why they need our support," he said. "If we do nothing then parts of this planet could become uninhabitable by the end of the century."

Scientists have

Yet at present, the world is on track for an increase of 4 degrees Celsius, which experts say would have far-reaching consequences for life on the planet.

In Germany, environmental groups and experts have attacked government plans to continue using coal and natural gas for decades to come.

Quaschning, who was one of more than 23,000 German-speaking scientists to sign a

"This is going to require radical measures and there isn't the slightest sign of that happening yet," said Quaschning.

A poll published Friday by German public broadcaster ZDF found that 67 percent of respondents backed the students' protests during school hours, with 32 percent opposed. The representative telephone poll conducted between March 12 and 14 involved 1,290 randomly selected voters. The margin of error was about 3 percentage points.

In Stockholm, Greta Thunberg said of politicians who are discussing individual measures to cut emissions, from building nuclear power plants to support for electric cars and green tax programs that "they waste time."

Asked what they should do, she replied: "Everything."

___

Rishahb R. Jain in New Delhi; Monika Scislowska in Warsaw, Poland; Nqobile Ntshangase in Pretoria, South Africa; Jari Tanner in Helsinki, Finland; and Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report