Thousands of people have marched through the streets of Rome to hold leaders attending the G20 summit accountable for some of the world’s most pressing issues, including global warming and unequal COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
The summit, being held in the fascist-era EUR area of the Italian capital, faced mass protests with climate change activists, students and labor unions accusing world leaders of promoting a model of economic development that has exacerbated global problems.
The protesters carried colorful placards, played drums and danced as they called on leaders of the world’s largest economies to take action to save the earth and its inhabitants.
Red-clad members of the Extinction Rebellion group staged a “silent scream” performance while others, impersonating world leaders, ignored a “voiceless” nature dressed in white, her mouth covered with an X.
“We are holding this protest for environmental and social issues and against the G20, which continues undaunted on a path that has almost led us to social and ecological failure,” said one protester named Edoardo Mentrasti.
Mentrasti added that protest organizers had proposals that could save the planet. “We’re not just protesting … we are able to put forward proposals and solutions for the planet, both from an economic and an environmental point of view.”
Luca Ianniello, one of the protest organizers, said they wanted to be more involved in the decisions affecting their lives.
“We organized this demonstration because we think that this is not a good model and because we want to be involved in decisions about the climate emergency, health, and the right to study and education,” Ianniello said.
Up to 6,000 police and about 500 soldiers have been deployed to Rome to maintain law and order during the international event.
Attending their first in-person summit in two years, G20 leaders broadly backed calls to extend debt relief for impoverished countries and pledged to vaccinate 70 percent of the world’s population by mid-2022.
However, with a crucial UN climate conference due to start in Glasgow in just two days, the world leaders appeared to be struggling to unite around strong new measures that scientists say are needed to avert disastrous global warming.