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Climate activists: We’ll fight them on the beaches

Environmentalists kick off three days of protests at G7 summit to warn leaders: We’re heading for a climate catastrophe

THOUSANDS of activists descended on Cornwall today to kick off three days of protests against G7 leaders’ inaction on the climate emergency.

Environmental activists marched through the small village of St Ives, near Carbis Bay where the summit is being held, to demand the leaders of global capitalism act immediately to avert the impending climate catastrophe. 

World leaders from Britain, Japan, Canada, the US, Italy, Germany and France began G7 talks today, focusing primarily on the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change. 

In his opening speech to the summit, PM Boris Johnson said: “As G7 we are united in … our vision for a cleaner, greener world, a solution to the problems of climate change, and in those ideas, in those technologies which we’re all addressing together … there is the potential to generate many, many millions of high-wage, high-skill jobs.”

But campaigners, trade unionists and economists called out his government for breaking climate pledges, delays, backing new fossil fuel projects and failing to invest enough in green industries and recovery. 

Dozens of marches, theatrical protests and events were staged to demand world leaders to put the climate top of the agenda. 

Extinction Rebellion co-founder Gail Bradbrook said: “We know we can’t trust the leaders of the world. They have already failed us in Paris. 

“They are part of a broken system, but humanity isn’t broken. We’re gathering in Cornwall in solidarity with communities on the front line across the world. 

“For the countries and people most vulnerable to rising temperatures, climate change is not something for the future: it is happening right now. ”
 
Ahead of the summit, all leaders affirmed their commitment to holding temperature rises to no more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels — the lower limit set out in the 2015 Paris agreement.

But Greenpeace UK’s senior climate campaigner Ariana Densham said bold commitments must also be delivered.

“The G7 cannot be another target-setting exercise resulting only in wasted time, political chest-thumping and more empty promises that might as well be written in the sand of Carbis Bay beach,” she said. 

The climate group staged Britain’s largest ever “drone show” using 300 illuminated unmanned vehicles to form 3D animals and shapes above Cornwall’s idyllic landscape. 

The TUC called for British leaders to adopt a more ambitious plan for investing in green industries, warning that failure to do so risks leaving the country behind.

General secretary Frances O’Grady said greater investment would provide a “chance to replace the jobs lost in the pandemic and level up the UK.”

Last week more than 350 organisations from 58 countries signed a letter calling on G7 leaders to stop funding fossil fuels, cancel debt payments in Covid-hit global South countries and help them pay for climate adaptations. 

More than 100 economists from around the world also urged G7 leaders to extend pledges to end coal finance by the end of 2021 to oil and gas finance as well. 

However others suggested that there was little point in putting any faith in the leaders of global capitalism to make positive change. 

Economic anthropologist Jason Hickel said: “The thing about the G7 is that they are basically a mafia of imperialist powers who dominate global arms sales, habitually [stage] coups [against] progressive [governments] in the South, prop up right-wing dictatorships, and are responsible for 77 per cent of excess emissions. It doesn’t exactly inspire trust.”

Anti-G7 protests are expected to continue throughout the weekend. On Saturday, Extinction Rebellion will stage a demo in Falmouth calling out government greenwashing. 

Sunday’s protests will see the focus switch to opposing state repression and surveillance, focusing on the government’s policing Bill. 

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