2019.05.24 12:00

Young people in Lithuania join climate change protests but lag behind Western Europe

Vaidotas Beniušis, BNS 2019.05.24 12:00

Young people in Vilnius and Klaipėda plan to join an international protest against clime change on Friday. However, the movement has attracted considerably less attention in Lithuania than in Western Europe.

Activists have been holding demonstrations to attract politicians' attention as European go to polls to elect a new European Parliament.

Student Vytautas Jurkuvėnas, one of the demonstration's organizers in Lithuania, says, however, Lithuanians have been rather passive in joining the demonstrations.

"Lithuanians are lagging behind very very much. Up to 100 people took part in the last event in the Cathedral Square in Vilnius. And there were thousands in the Austrian capital Vienna. But we are slowly moving towards that," he told BNS on Friday.

Thousands of young people have joined the movement against climate change, Fridays for Future, initiated by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. Inspired by the activist, teenagers skip classes on Fridays to take part in demonstrations. But their involvement has received controversial reactions.

Jurkuvėnas says the movement wants to attract public attention.

"We don’t want to be linked to only schoolchildren or students. We all contributes to this problem, this crisis, and we all can take action to affect it positively," Jurkuvėnas said.

Read more: Risk of forest fires remains high in Lithuania

Protesters are gathering in Vincas Kudirka Square in central Vilnius at 17:00 on Friday. And in Klaipėda, a march will take place at noon from the Old Market to the Revival Square.

Scientists agree that people's economic activity is contributing to global warming. In Lithuania, farmers have suffered from extreme weather three years in a row; a third of Lithuanian territory is currently at the highest risk of forest fires. 

Read more: Lithuania ‘at the center of climate change’ – crop failures and extreme weather three years in a row 

The Lithuanian government says measures are being taken to fight climate change by increasing energy efficiency and reducing car pollution.