Photos: kids in 123 countries went on strike to protect the climate ( www.vox.com )

“This movement had to happen, we didn’t have a choice.”

An estimated 1.4 million young people in 123 countries skipped school Friday to demand stronger climate policies in what may be one of the largest environmental protests in history.

“This movement had to happen, we didn’t have a choice,” wrote the Swedish activist and strike leader Greta Thunberg with other young climate activists in the Guardian Friday. “We knew there was a climate crisis … We knew, because everything we read and watched screamed out to us that something was very wrong.”

Michael Campanella/Getty Images Greta Thunberg speaks a strike outside of the Swedish parliament house in Stockholm on March 15.

Thunberg, 16, began skipping school to strike in front of Sweden’s parliament in August. Soon students in other countries began to follow her lead in what became the Fridays for Future movement.

As her media presence has grown, Thunberg has become the voice of youth exasperation with policymakers’ failure to take steps to dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions in the face of catastrophic climate change. “Our house is on fire,” she said in a January speech at Davos. “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.”

What Thunberg and her fellow protesters want from governments now is to “keep fossil fuels in the ground, phase out subsidies for dirty energy production, seriously invest in renewables and start asking difficult questions about how we structure our economies and who is set to win and who is set to lose,” as they put it in the Guardian.

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