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Thunberg and other youth activists meet Draghi to push on climate talks

by Reuters
Thursday, 30 September 2021 08:19 GMT

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg attends the Youth4Climate pre-COP26 conference in Milan, Italy September 29, 2021. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

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Young climate activist Greta Thunberg is due to present Draghi and other climate leaders with the youth's slate of proposals for inclusion in the COP26 agenda

By Stephen Jewkes and Giulio Piovaccari

MILAN, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Youth climate activists including Greta Thunberg are meeting Italy's Prime Minister and current president of the G20 Mario Draghi on Thursday in a final push to get world leaders to match rhetoric with action before the U.N. COP26 climate summit.

Thousands of young activists converged this week for a Youth4Climate event in Milan, where Draghi and his UK counterpart Boris Johnson are also scheduled to take part on Thursday along with COP26 president Alok Sharma and U.N. chief Antonio Guterres.

Thunberg, 18, who on Tuesday lambasted world leaders for "30 years of blah, blah, blah" on battling climate change, is due to present Draghi and other climate leaders with the youth's slate of proposals for inclusion in the COP26 agenda.

Italy is co-hosting the COP26 along with the UK from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12 in Glasgow. The conference aims to secure more ambitious climate action from the nearly 200 countries that signed the 2015 Paris Agreement and agreed to try to limit human-caused global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

"We have to keep the 1.5 degrees within reach," said Ernest Gibson, 23, a delegate from Fiji. "The recognition here is that the transition is going to take place anyway but it must happen in a way that it doesn't let anyone down."

The activists' proposals include demands for a transparent climate finance system, sustainable and responsible tourism as well as a call for the total phasing out of the fossil fuel industry by 2030.

Those proposals will be vetted by climate and energy ministers pre-COP26 gathering in the next few days ahead of the Glasgow conference.

The young climate champions are demanding policymakers match rhetoric with action and stump up the billions of dollars needed to wean the world off fossil fuels to cleaner energy during a year that has seen record-breaking heatwaves, floods and fires.

While new energy and funding pledges from the U.S. and China have left negotiators more upbeat, many G20 countries, including major polluters like China and India, are yet to deliver updates of their short-term climate action plans.

(Reporting by Stephen Jewkes and Giulio Piovaccari, writing by Agnieszka Flak Editing by Raissa Kasolowksy)