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SAN DIEGO — Students around San Diego County and all over the world participated in the Global Climate Strike Friday by walking out of class for rallies throughout the day.

Thousands of students and faculty members at more than 20 local middle schools, high schools and colleges were expected to participate in the strike to call for governments to take urgent action to combat climate change. Similar events were also expected to be held at Escondido City Hall, De Anza Cove in Mission Bay and at the downtown office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California.

According to the environmentalist group San Diego 350, the event was to be the largest student climate demonstration in San Diego history. “We are only beginning to see some of the devastating effects that will come if we continue to avoid systematically addressing the climate crisis,” Serra High School’s Serra Students for Environmental Action said in a statement. “Today’s youth will inherit the responsibility of solving damage caused by climate change, and further damage will come if legislators fail to act quickly, making environmentalism a key issue for Generation Z,” the group said.

The strike received the blessing of the San Diego Unified School District and the Sweetwater Union High School District, which both approved supportive resolutions last week. “We are excited to join students in this climate action rally,” San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten said before the strike began. “We also want to make sure our students are safe and do not leave our school sites for their safety and security.”

The Global Climate Strike was inspired by 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg as a way to call attention to the existential threat of climate change. The international protest precedes the United Nations Global Climate Action Summit on Sept. 23 and was expected to include some 2,500 events in more than 150 countries.