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Climate protesters keep up efforts across Europe

By Julian Shea in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-09-23 01:32
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Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, center, takes part during the Climate Strike in New York on Friday. Rallies calling for action on climate change are happening in cities around the world ahead of a gathering on the issue. [Photo/Agencies]

March in France ends in violence after hijacking by outsiders

A 91-year-old man was one of 10 people arrested when members of the Extinction Rebellion climate change action group took part in a blockade of the English port of Dover on Saturday.

The man, along with an 83-year-old woman and three others, was part of a group that broke away from an official demonstration, and another five activists were detained for trying to glue themselves to one of the key roads into the town, in an effort to demonstrate the vulnerability of the United Kingdom's reliance on food imports.

"The government must tell the truth and act now," said Chris Atkins from Extinction Rebellion Dover.

"As climate change develops, millions of ordinary Britons will face the real and growing threat of food shortages, hunger and starvation. Extreme storms and floods are already causing major crop failures across the world, with high temperatures also hitting livestock and agriculture.

"This crisis may seem far away now but given the dependency of the UK on food imports we are extremely vulnerable."

A Sky News reporter spoke to the 91-year-old man just before he was detained. He said he was taking part because his generation had done the damage that caused the current crisis.

The UK's dependence on food imports, especially through Dover, has also been a major issue in the on-going Brexit crisis.

The Institute for Government reports that 2.5 million heavy goods vehicles pass through Dover each year, carrying around 17 percent of the UK's entire value of trade goods. Last year, then-Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab was heavily criticized after saying in a speech that he had "not quite understood the full extent" of the country's reliance on Dover.

The latest protests in the UK come at the end of a week where young people all around the world have taken part in climate change demonstrations, inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.

On Saturday, what had been billed as a family-friendly peaceful climate change march in Paris was abandoned after infiltration by other protest groups led to violent clashes with riot police, vandalism and more than 100 arrests.

The climate change protest and another over pension reform had both been permitted but other demonstrations, by groups including the yellow vest protesters, who have been involved in a series of previous anti-government confrontations dating back to last year, went ahead unauthorized, leading to more than 7,000 police officers being deployed.

Tear gas was used to break up groups, thought to be made up of anarchists, who wore hoods, sunglasses and black scarves to hide their faces, with environmental group Greenpeace advising climate change protesters to leave the scene because of threatening circumstances.

"Brutalities (not by climate activists) occurred at the front of the procession. Following tear gas the march has halted," Greenpeace France tweeted, later adding: "Take no risk and leave the climate march."

There have also been protests in Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition government has made a breakthrough in its efforts to reduce greenhouse gasses by coming up with a new set of measures to combat carbon emissions.

The deal is thought to cost around 48 billion pounds ($60 billion) by 2023, and includes a price on CO2 emissions from transport and buildings, and an increase in tax on air fares but a reduction on those for long-distance train tickets. "We are not living sustainably today", said Merkel.

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