A crowd of pedestrians and cyclists gathered in Valletta on Friday evening to campaign for climate change.
Protesters marched from Triton Square to Parliament, demanding an end to fuel subsidies, increased commitment to renewable energy sources and better provisions for cyclists and pedestrians on the country’s road infrastructure.
The group also want to reduce carbon emissions by keeping fossil fuels in the ground, they said.
Activists played musical instruments and chanted slogans including “no more coal, no more oil, keep the carbon in the soil.”
Demonstrators held placards reading “Climate is changing, why aren’t we?” and “You’ll die of old age, we’ll die of climate change”.
The event was held in solidarity with other international organisations as part of a Global Climate Strike, with Friday’s theme entitled ‘End Fossil Finance’.
‘Fossil fuel investments while world is on fire’
In a speech delivered to protesters outside the parliament, organiser Dawn Sammut blamed world leaders for their “inaction” to address the climate crisis.
“The climate crisis is being funded by their investments in fossil fuels, meanwhile the world is on fire” she said.
“Nations, including Malta, signed the Paris agreement in 2015, whilst they continued to overdevelop our land, drill for oil and cut down our trees.”
Almost half of Malta’s carbon emissions come from road transport, Sammut noted, while attacking the government’s pursuit of “car-centric infrastructure projects.”
Malta’s parliament declared a “climate emergency” in 2019 but has done little to act on that emergency in the ensuing years.
“To add insult to injury, just a few weeks ago the finance ministry approved an exploration license for oil in our waters,” she continued, a statement that was greeted with boos by those present.
Highlighting past victories for campaigners such as women’s suffrage, trade unions and an end to colonisation, Sammut urged people to “lobby for fairer solutions.”
Activist and ROTA bicycle advocacy group member Paolo Cassar Manghi said he would like to see more bicycles on Malta’s roads and less prioritising of cars. “More cars are added to Malta’s roads every day,” he said, adding that emissions caused by cars were one of the main contributors to climate change.
Friday’s action formed part of a regular event called Fridays for Future, an international youth-led initiative started in 2018 following a three-week protest in front of the Swedish Parliament led by climate campaigner Greta Thunberg.
The event was endorsed by Movement Graffitt, BirdLife Malta, Nature Trust – FEE Malta, FAA, Din L- Art Helwa, the Archaeological Society Malta, the ‘Grow10Trees’ Project, ROTA, Friends of the Earth Malta and the Malta Girl Guides.
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