AFP/Falmouth, United Kingdom
Thousands of environmental campaigners rallied noisily and colourfully yesterday in Cornwall to urge G7 leaders to do far more against climate change and biodiversity loss.
Beating drums and holding placards, up to 2,000 activists from the Extinction Rebellion (XR) pressure group staged a procession through Falmouth – an hour’s drive from the Carbis Bay summit site.
The harbour town in southwest England is being used to host a media centre for reporters from around the world covering the first in-person gathering of the elite group since 2019.
Heightened security stretching around the seaside resort at Carbis Bay, including extensive police checkpoints and Royal Navy vessels offshore, has kept protesters largely out of the world leaders’ view.
“I have a grandchild who’s one, and I want some life for him when he grows up not affected by climate change and pollution,” retiree David Oliver, 62, told AFP as he joined the Falmouth protesters.
Oliver had travelled from northwest England, linking up with family members from other parts of the country to descend on Falmouth.
He said that G7 leaders appeared unwilling to make the “radical” sacrifices need to avert catastrophic climate change.
Dozens of demonstrators dressed entirely in red – representing the accelerating rate of species’ extinctions – led the procession through Falmouth behind a banner reading: “G is for greenwashing.”
Others held placards bearing various slogans, including “deeds not words”.
Falmouth resident Sas Joyce, 42, joined with her nine-year-old son – who held aloft a sign saying “the sea dies, we die” – and daughter, aged six.
“We just can’t make our voices heard,” she complained of perceived continued global inaction on the environment.
The G7 is due to discuss climate change and safeguarding global biodiversity today, laying the groundwork for the UN’s pivotal COP26 environmental summit in November.
The leaders are expected to debate a pledge to protect at least 30% of the world’s land and oceans by 2030.
On Friday they met business leaders to discuss ramping up sustainability efforts, at a reception hosted by Queen Elizabeth and her son Prince Charles at Cornwall’s Eden Project, a renowned attraction showcasing the world’s ecological riches.
Despite a raft of recent climate pledges by G7 and other countries, campaigners want more detailed plans to be implemented quicker alongside greater aid for poorer nations.
Activists from UK-based anti-poverty organisation Oxfam posed yesterday as the G7 leaders, wearing papier mache heads and relaxing on deckchairs on a beach in Falmouth to make their point.
“We need to put pressure on the G7 here in Cornwall to do far more to cut their carbon but also to deliver the desperately needed moves to help poor countries in Africa and the rest of the world, who are having to fight climate change right now,” said Oxfam’s Max Lawson.
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