Activists dye Venice canal green to protest COP28's 'lack of progress'
Climate activists dye Venice canal green and dangle from famous Rialto Bridge to protest ‘lack of progress’ at Dubai’s COP28 summit
- Protestors unfurled a banner stating that the world was ‘hanging by a thread’
- The famous waterway in Venice fell unusually silent following the climate stunt
- Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro denounced the climate activists as ‘eco-vandals’
Climate activists used a dye to turn Venice’s famous Grand Canal green on Saturday in protest over what they claim to be a lack of progress at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai.
The Italian protesters from the Extinction Rebellion group were seen dangling from the Rialto Bridge over the canal with the aid of hard hats and climbing ropes, while displaying a banner that read: ‘COP28: While the government talks, we are hanging by a thread.’
One protestor was seen wearing a distinctive unicorn outfit while unfurling the banner as crowds gathered and watched the stunt.
The famous waterway, popular with tourists and the largest of the Italian’s city’s many canals, fell unusually silent following the stunt, with all boat traffic temporarily halted.
Small stretches of rivers and canals in Italian cities, from the Po in Turin in the north to Rome’s Tiber in the south, were also turned green in similar protests.
Seeing green: The waterways of the famous Grand Canal in Venice is one of the Italian city’s most visited attractions, but on Saturday climate activists dyed it green in protest against Cop28
Extinction Rebellion protestors unfurled a banner while dangling from the Rialto Bridge over the canal with the aid of climbing ropes that read: ‘COP28: While the government talks, we are hanging by a thread’
Waterways in Milan and Bologna were also targeted by the protestors.
‘In a few hours, these waters will be back to what they were before,’ Extinction Rebellion said.
‘In the meantime, while governments talk, we count the damage and the victims from constant floods and fires,’ it added in a statement.
Extinction Rebellion said the effect had been created by a fluorescein dye that was harmless and would disappear in a matter of hours
The group said that the visual effect was created by a fluorescein dye that was harmless and used in industry to trace items in water.
However, Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro denounced the activists as ‘eco-vandals’ and called on the Italian authorities to punish them.
Boat traffic on the Grand Canal was halted on Saturday during the protest, and the canal water and the recently restored columns on the Rialto Bridge had to be checked on safety grounds, the mayor said.
Passengers travelling on gondolas as the dye was placed into the water looked bewildered as the water around them turned a green hue.
Meanwhile, on shore large crowds swelled around the Rialto Bridge as they looked on at the protestors and were prevented from going near the water.
Tourists travelling along the Grand Canal looked bewildered as the waters turned a green hue
Hanging by a thread: The protestors said they wanted to highlight what they claimed was inaction at this year’s COP28 in Dubai
Taking action: The protestors said:’ While governments talk, we count the damage and victims of continuous floods and fires’
Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro denounced the activists as ‘eco-vandals’ and called on the Italian authorities to punish them
Hundreds of people gather around the Rialto Bridge over the Grand Canal as boat traffic was completely stopped on Saturday following the protest action
‘Venice is a fragile city, one that is to be loved and respected. Enough is enough,’ he added.
Saturday’s protest in Venice is just the latest in a series of actions carried out by climate activists in Italy this year.
In May, seven activists in Italy were dragged out of Rome’s famous Trevi Fountain protesting against the continued funding of fossil fuels, saying floods that killed 14 people in the country’s northeast that month were ‘a warning’.
Seven activists from the anti-climate change organisation Last Generation climbed into the landmark fountain and poured a vegetable-based charcoal dye into it, turning the water black.
Hundreds of people who were visiting the fountain stopped to watch the protest before police arrived and began arresting and escorting away those involved.
Environmental activists were removed from the famous Trevi fountain by police officers in May
Seven activists entered the fountain and turned the water black with a charcoal-based dye
The protest came as Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni arrived in Emilia Romagna to visit areas devastated by floods described as the worst in a century after six months’ worth of rains fell in 36 hours.
More recently, in October irate motorists repeatedly kicked and dragged climate protesters blocking traffic in Milan.
Around 20 ‘Ultima Generazione’ – translated as Last Generation – activists blocked a road, drawing the anger of several drivers left stuck in the resulting traffic.
Footage showed several activists sitting on a crossing point over the multi-lane road at a busy intersection, causing chaos for drivers during rush hour by linking hands and holding up an orange climate emergency banner, similar to others seen at other disruptive protests across Europe in recent years.
Several drivers, furious at the protesters for blocking their way, got out of the cars and banded together to carry them off the road in shocking scenes caught on video.
In October, irate motorists repeatedly kicked and dragged climate protesters blocking traffic in Milan
Just weeks later, eco-zealots blocked the busiest motorway in Rome by sitting in the middle of the Via Guglielmo Marcon in the country’s capital holding banners aloft as part of demonstrations by Ultima Generazione, Italian for Last Generation.
The ‘civil disobedience’ movement was borne from Extinction Rebellion and the independent ‘Ultima Generazioneâ’ last year.
The protesters demanded that disused coal plants be reopened and calling for a halt to a new drilling project for the research into and extraction of natural gas.
In late October, eco-zealots blocked the busiest motorway in Rome by sitting in the middle of the capital city’s busiest motorway, the Via Guglielmo Marcon
Also in recent months, Italian eco-zealots glued their hands to Botticelli’s masterpiece Primavera at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, while in November 11 activists threw flour over a car painted by Andy Warhol that was on display in Milan’s Fabbrica del Vapore art centre.
Other protesters smashed paint-filled balloons on the floor and glued themselves to the ground and the car, according to Italian news agency Ansa.
Chaotic pictures showed the car covered in flower, surrounded by protesters on the floor, with some of the protesters being dragged away by security staff at the exhibition centre.
Elsewhere, climate protestors gathered in Edinburgh on Saturday outside the Scottish Parliament.
Activists braved the rain to call for united action on the climate crisis, and to urge the Scottish Government and UK Government to rethink policies.
The event was organised by the Stop Climate Chaos Scotland coalition, which includes 60 organisations such as RSPB Scotland, Christian Aid Scotland, and Unison Scotland, as well as the Climate Justice Coalition.
Activists carried placards which read ‘Save nature, save the climate!’, and ‘Listen to the wind of change, just transition now’.
Hazard signs placed on the grass read ‘Climate emergency’.
Climate protestors gathered in Edinburgh on Saturday outside the Scottish Parliament
Activists braved the rain to call for united action on the climate crisis, and to urge the Scottish Government and UK Government to rethink policies
Organisers believe the Scottish Government should take bold action to tackle climate change, to deliver ‘our fair share of action in response to the Paris Agreement’ and supporting climate justice globally.
Speakers discussed the headlines from the Cop28 talks, and opportunities to deliver a fair transition for workers and communities and to protect nature, as well as the threat posed by new oil fields.
The event was organised by the Stop Climate Chaos Scotland coalition, which includes 60 organisations such as RSPB Scotland, Christian Aid Scotland, and Unison Scotland, as well as the Climate Justice Coalition
Becky Kenton-Lake, from Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, said: ‘Two years ago over 100,000 people took to the streets of Glasgow to tell world leaders at the Cop26 climate talks they wanted action on the climate and nature emergencies.
‘Since then, despite record-breaking temperatures and increasingly devastating climate impacts, we have seen a lack of robust and urgent action to reduce emissions, protect nature, or make the biggest polluters pay for the damage they are causing.
‘People in Scotland have been demanding climate and nature action for years, but temperatures and injustices continue to rise – so now we are rising.
‘This event will give everyone the opportunity to send a strong message to decision makers and show that Scotland stands with other events around the world during the UN climate talks Cop28.
‘This year will soon be confirmed as the hottest ever recorded, and there have been devastating climate impacts in all corners of the world, from flooding in Brechin, wildfires in Hawaii and drought in the Horn of Africa.
‘People are increasingly frustrated that, despite this, we have seen a lack of robust and urgent action to reduce emissions, protect nature, or make the biggest polluters pay for the damage they are causing – things they have been demanding for years.
‘The Cop28 global day of action sent a strong message to governments that there must be no more delay to delivering fair climate action.’
Activists designated Saturday a day of protest at the COP28 summit in Dubai, which brought together climate change campaigners, those calling for Indigenous rights and people asking for a ceasefire in Gaza
Meanwhile in Dubai, activists designated Saturday a day of protest at the COP28 summit in Dubai.
But the rules of the game in the tightly-controlled United Arab Emirates at the site supervised by the United Nations meant sharp restrictions on what demonstrators could say, where they could walk and what their signs could portray.
A small group of demonstrators protesting the detention of activists – one from Egypt and two from the UAE – were not allowed to hold up signs bearing their names.
A late afternoon demonstration of around 500 people, the largest seen at the climate conference, was not allowed to go beyond the UN-governed Blue Zone, while their calls for a ceasefire in the war in the Gaza Strip couldn’t actually name the states involved.
‘It is a shocking level of censorship in a space that had been guaranteed to have basic freedoms protected like freedom of expression, assembly and association,’ Joey Shea, a researcher at Human Rights Watch focused on the Emirates, told The Associated Press after their restricted demonstration.
Pro-Palestinian protesters who were calling for a ceasefire and climate justice were told they could not say ‘from the river to the sea,’ a slogan previously prohibited by the UN over the days of COP28.
Pro-Palestinian protesters in Dubai called for a ceasefire and climate justice on Saturday
A protestor calls for Indigenous rights alongside activists asking for climate justice and a ceasefire in Gaza on Saturday
Activists, including Indigenous rights campaigners from Mexico, prepare to march in protest
Human rights advocates protest in solidarity with political prisoners in Egypt and United Arab Emirates
People hold a banner that reads ‘Latin America and the Caribbean united for climate justice against genocide and colonialism’
Protestors got around rules banning national flags by instead wearing keffiyehs and holding signs depicting watermelons – symbols of Palestinian resistance.
Protestor Dylan Hamilton of Scotland said it remained important for demonstrators to cry out their grievances, even if they sounded like a cacophony of concerns ranging from climate change to the war or Indigenous rights.
‘It’s essential to remind negotiators what they are negotiating about,’ Hamilton said. ‘It’s trying to remind people to care about people you’ll never meet.’
Activists protesting for a ceasefire in Gaza called the action historic due to its size. It was the biggest demonstration at COP so far, with civil society groups coming together to highlight the link between Indigenous rights, climate justice and Palestinian rights.
‘I don’t want to look back one day where a Palestinian can’t remember what their history and their culture used to look like, because that’s exactly what happened to us in Mexico,’ said climate activist Isavela Lopez.
‘I’m here to say to end with the colonial powers and with the white supremacy.’
Many climate activists say today’s climate crisis has been caused by the same reasons.
Demonstrators carried signs bearing the image of Emirati activist Ahmed Mansoor and Egyptian pro-democracy activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah.
Activists called the action historic due to its size. It was the biggest demonstration at COP so far, with civil society groups coming together to highlight the link between Indigenous rights, climate justice and Palestinian rights
Mansoor, the recipient of the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in 2015, repeatedly drew the ire of authorities in the United Arab Emirates, calling for a free press and democratic freedoms in this autocratic federation of seven sheikhdoms.
He had been targeted with Israeli spyware on his iPhone in 2016 likely deployed by the Emirati government ahead of his 2017 arrest and sentencing to 10 years in prison over his activism.
A woman shouts slogans during a protest for climate justice and a ceasefire in Gaza on Saturday
Abdel-Fattah, who rose to prominence during the 2011 pro-democracy Arab Spring uprisings, became a central focus of demonstrators during last year’s COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, as he had stopped eating and drinking water to protest his detention. He has spent most of the past decade in prison because of his criticism of Egypt’s rulers.
Since 2013, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s government has cracked down on dissidents and critics, jailing thousands, virtually banning protests and monitoring social media.
El-Sissi has not released Abdel-Fattah despite him receiving British citizenship while imprisoned and interventions on his behalf from world leaders including US President Joe Biden.
Demonstrators also held up the image of Mohamed al-Siddiq, another Emirati detained as part of the crackdown. Emiratis in white thobes walked or rode past the protest in carts, looking on in curiosity.
The protests had been scheduled to take place days earlier, but negotiations with UN officials dragged on – likely due to the sensitivity of even mentioning the detainees’ names in the country.
Meanwhile protesters briefly staged a sit-in at OPEC’s stand over a leaked letter reportedly calling on cartel member states to reject any attempt to include a phase-down of fossil fuels in any text at the summit.
‘It’s like having, you know, a convention on fighting the tobacco industry and having the tobacco industry present in a negotiation. That is not okay,’ campaigner Nicholas Haeringer said.
‘It’s like having a fox in the henhouse. And to be honest with you guys, I think at some point we will run out of analogies before these guys run out of oil.’
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