Fridays For Future Takes Out Rally in Milan as Climate Summit COP26 Nears

The FFF rally on Friday was led from the front by Swedish and Ugandan climate-change activists, Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate.

Greta Thunberg Joined the youth in the streets of Milan. PC: Miguel Medina/AFP

On Friday, October 1st, Fridays For Future (FFF) held a rally in Milan, Italy demanding swift climate action in the run-up to the much awaited 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) that will begin its session on 31st October in Glasgow, Scotland. FFF, which is a youth-led climate strike movement, in coordination with another group Rise Up, attracted several thousands of young people to participate in the rally.

FFF marches were a common sight in cities across the world before the pandemic. After 2 years of interruptions, on September 24, a ‘Global Climate Strike’ was called by FFF. The call reverberated across several cities of Europe, Africa, and Asia. Frustrated with the incomplete promises of the Paris Agreement, activists trended #UprootTheSystem on social media.

Friday’s rally was organized in Milan to mark the culmination of a 3 day Youth4Climate summit here in Milan, which was also attended by Italian PM Mario Draghi. In this conference, 400 young activists forwarded their views in a concise document that would be presented in the COP26 Conference.

PC: Twitter @fffitalia

Eduarda Zoghbhi, 28, from Brazil, told Reuters after the summit that she expected leaders of COP26 “to finally decide on a rule-book for the Paris Agreement.” Archana Soreng, 25, belonging to the Kharia tribe in Odisha and another participant, demanded that in COP26 indigenous leaders be made part of climate action. While some were satisfied to speak with governmental leaders, the general mood of participants was negative. “It is ridiculous we cannot speak up our mind, we have to stay within the format they created,” Rikke Nielsen, a 20-year-old activist from Denmark, told AFP.

The FFF rally on Friday was led from the front by Swedish and Ugandan climate-change activists, Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate. The rally saw demonstrators sloganeer “Climate Justice Now!” and leave red handprints on buildings in Piazza Affari. Popular messages on banners read: “There’s no planet B”; “How Dare You?”; and “Change is Coming Whether You Like it Or Not”. The spirits were high as people marched from the Venezia to the Cairoli square. An Italian teenager, taking long strides under a giant wave made of green cloth, told France24 “We are so happy to be back on the street”.

PC: Miguel Medina/AFP

All eyes are set on COP26, especially after the IPCC report rang “code red” for humanity in August. With time frames for climate action reducing to less than a decade, everyone is hoping for a miracle at Glasgow. Thunberg, however, is cautious. “Nothing has changed from previous years really. The leaders will say ‘we’ll do this and we’ll do this, and we will put our forces together and achieve this’, and then they will do nothing. Maybe some symbolic things and creative accounting and things that don’t really have a big impact.”

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