Portugal's students march for climate as Greta visit delayed

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LISBON (Reuters) - Students took to the streets in eight cities across Portugal on Friday to call for action on climate change, but Swedish activist Greta Thunberg was unable to join them because she was held up by bad weather in mid-Atlantic.

Thunberg had been due to join the students’ strike in Lisbon, but her journey back from a U.N. Climate Conference in New York by sailboat was hit by heavy winds, delaying her arrival by a few days, she told social media followers.

Still, Portugal’s student movement expects thousands to join the marches on Friday, building on momentum of Thunberg’s arrival to mobilize ahead of the United Nations COP 25 climate summit in Madrid from Dec. 2-13.

“We wish she’d been here, but the movement has to carry on without her - we’ve got to send our message and pressure politicians ahead of the climate summit,” Marianna Louca, 14, told Reuters.

Thunberg is due to speak in the Portuguese parliament on arrival in Lisbon before going on to Madrid.

Her team confirmed she would be arriving in the middle of next week and would also give a news conference with Portuguese student activists.

Friday’s climate strike is the fourth in Portugal and one of thousands taking place in 2,300 cities in 153 countries around the world, according to Friday For Future’s estimates.

Portugal was the first country to commit to carbon neutrality by 2050, and its parliament declared a climate emergency in July. In October, it moved the deadline for closing the country’s coal plants from 2030 to 2023.

But activists say the government continues to take actions which will prevent the country from reaching its decarbonization goals. “On the contrary, a new airport, lithium mines and bigger ports are in the works,” a member of civil disobedience group Extinction Rebellion told Reuters.

Reporting by Victoria Waldersee; Editing by Giles Elgood