'I'm Running Out of Air': Thousands of Youth Protest Climate Inaction in Tel Aviv

Demonstrators say worldwide scale of the protest is key to its effectiveness

The climate change protest in Tel Aviv, on Friday, September 27, 2019.
Tomer Appelbaum

Some 3,000 people, mostly youth, took to the streets of Tel Aviv on Friday calling for a firm action against climate change, chanting "I'm running out of air" and "Change your ways, save your surroundings."

Organizers decried "the indifference and outright denial of the climate crisis on the part of our elected officials who embrace pollution-fueled industry putting our society and future in danger." 

The climate change protest in Tel Aviv, on Friday, September 27, 2019.
Tomer Appelbaum

Unlike previous demonstrations for environment action in Israel, the protest was organized by a broad coalition of groups, including prominent environmental organization Green Course and Extinction Rebellion activists.

Protestors chanted "Very few gain, all of us are hurt," "The forests are for the oxygen, not for the cash," and "Shame, shame on the world."

Nir Papai, vice-president of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, stressed the protest draws its effectiveness from its global scale. "Worldwide demonstrations can make us understand that a major change in our behavior is needed," he said. Similarly, Omar Ovadia, a student, said what makes the demonstration important is that it is part of a global movement.

The climate change protest in Tel Aviv, on Friday, September 27, 2019.
Moti Milrod

The protest is part of the "Global Climate Strike" initiative, led by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, comprising of 5,000 events in 156 different countries.

The teenagers say they are inspired by Thunberg, who has staged weekly demonstrations under the heading "Fridays for Future" over the past year, calling on world leaders to step up their efforts against climate change.