Thousands of activists from over 30 environmental groups are expected to disrupt the G7 summit in Cornwall next week by blocking main roads into the county, obstructing convoys carrying world leaders, and targeting a cruise ship filled with police officers. What’s going on here?

From June 11-13, seven leaders of the world’s richest democratic nations will meet in Cornwall to “build back better from Covid-19 and create a greener-more prosperous future.” The meeting is often criticised due to its failure to move beyond the status quo of global capitalism – a system which has proven increasingly fragile since the global pandemic.

G7 protest in Biarritz, France in 2019

2021 is a critical year for climate action, and activists from across the country are planning to call out their leaders’ empty promises. The term “clean carbon” has become commonplace, indicating that currently nonexistent technologies will make large-scale systemic change redundant. Currently, none of the G7 nations have implemented policies consistent with the Paris agreement, with current legislations would only achieve a 26% of the necessary CO2 emissions reductions by 2030.

Why are people protesting?

G7 leaders are being criticised for favouring net-profit over net-zero when it comes to climate change, with business giants paying media specialists to build their green credentials whilst maintaining the status quo. According to climate scientists, we are currently steering towards the worst-case global warming scenario of up to 3.1 degrees warming. Year after year, we are seeing new extreme weather records and global majority countries are already suffering considerably from climate change impacts. The G7 will need to increase ambitions for emissions reductions and equitable climate finance to stay in line with the Paris agreement of 2015. Failing to do so will compromise the success of COP26, the global climate summit which will take place in Glasgow this November. 

So what’s happening?

Resist G7, a coalition made up of local, national and international groups have been mobilising to “build resistance and positive alternatives to G7”. The group’s core message is to put people over profit by means of global justice, wealth distribution, and systems change. Resist G7 believe that change must come from diverse and representative groups rather than the richest 1%. It is arguably paradoxical to decide the future of the most vulnerable from the comfort of a luxury resort.

Protests against G7 are not new. The last summit in Biarritz, South France was met with thousands of protesters, ”. This year, a series of mass actions across Cornwall will take place, where protesters will gather on the beaches, headlands and town streets, spreading their message of global solidarity and demanding action on the climate and ecological emergency. Some of the groups joining the protests include Extinction Rebellion, Stop the War Coalition, Youth Climate Alliance, Kill the Bill, and many more.

G7 protests in Biarritz, France in 2019

Every day of action will run under a different theme, starting with “Sound the Alarm”, calling out our leaders’ lack of action in the face of crisis when they should be protecting the most vulnerable. The second day of action, “G is for Greenwash”, will call out politicians and big polluters who co-opt the climate crisis to suit their agenda, whilst continuing to be lobbied by fossil fuel companies. The third day of action, “All Hands on Deck”, will showcase alternative ways of participatory decision-making, such as citizens assemblies. Protests and discussions will call for radical changes to economic growth, environmental law and finance systems.

What do protesters want?

Demands to G7 leaders made by coalition members include:

  • Declare a global climate emergency with stricter, legally binding net-zero goals
  • Ban fossil fuel investment and subsidies
  • Increasing climate finance in developing countries
  • Pay for damages from climate change based on historic responsibility (so-called “climate reparations”)
  • Prioritise a just transition with global solidarity and equity at its core

In summary, the Covid-19 pandemic has shown that leaders have the capacity to respond to existential threats – now it is the time to treat the climate crisis with the same urgency. A Covid-recovery must be a green recovery and the coming G7 resistance holds promise to deliver this message to the most powerful leaders of our fragile world.

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