Hundreds of youth activists protest climate inaction ahead of Milan summit

Hundreds of youth climate activists gathered in Milan on Thursday to protest inaction by world leaders ahead of a vital climate summit next month.

Climate activists outside the Milan Conference Centre, MiCO.
Climate activists outside the Milan Conference Centre, MiCO, on September 30th, during the Pre-COP 26 summit. Photo: MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP

The youth delegates will outline their priorities for climate action in a joint statement to be presented to ministers meeting on Saturday as part of the preparations for the COP26 UN climate summit, which begins October 31st in Glasgow.

The Pre-COP 26 conference is being held at Milan’s MiCo convention center between Thursday September 30th and Saturday October 2nd.

READ ALSO: Climate crisis: The Italian cities worst affected by flooding and heatwaves

The preparatory summit brings together climate and energy ministers from a selected group of countries to discuss and exchange views on some of the topics that will be addressed at COP26.

As the event opened on Thursday morning, some protestors formed human roadblocks blocking access to the MiCo in an effort to draw attention to their cause, reports news agency Ansa.

“Milan blocks those who devastate the planet” read one banner laid in front of a human blockade.

Clashes with police were reported as law enforcement attempted to forcibly remove the protesters from the roads, with Ansa publishing a video to its Twitter account showing officers in riot gear beating a crowd with batons.

Speaking at the event’s opening on Thursday, UN chief Antonio Guterres urged young people to keep up the pressure, saying “your solidarity and demands for action set a powerful example.”

“The window of opportunity to prevent the worst impacts of the climate crisis is closing quickly,” he told the crowd.

“We know what needs to be done and we have the tools to do it. Young people have been in the forefront of putting forward positive solutions, advocating for climate justice and holding leaders to account.”

READ ALSO: Nine in 10 Italians ‘want more action on climate crisis’, new study finds

Attending Youth4Climate, a two-day event held in advance of the Pre-COP, was 18-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. Thunberg arrived by train from Frankfurt on Monday, reports the news daily Corriere della Sera.

Italy’s prime minister Mario Draghi held a private meeting with Thunberg and the youth activists Vanessa Nakate and Martina Comparelli on Thursday, which the premier said “went very well”, according to the national broadcaster Rai.

But speaking at the Youth4Climate event on Tuesday Thunberg warned political leaders against using empty rhetoric as a cover for their complacency, castigating them for “30 years of blah, blah, blah.”

“They invite cherry-picked young people to meetings like this to pretend that they are listening to us but they are not. They are clearly not listening to us,” Thunberg told the crowd.

“Our hopes and dreams drown in their empty words and promises.”

The COP26 summit  is being billed as crucial to the continued success of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

READ ALSO: Climate campaigners sue Italian government for failing to tackle climate crisis

The landmark 2015 accord commits nations to limiting global temperature rises to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels through sweeping emissions cuts.

Countries also promised to work towards a safer temperature cap of 1.5C.

But emissions have continued to rise in the six years since the deal, while the latest round of national carbon-cutting pledges puts Earth on track to warm a “catastrophic” 2.7C this century, according to a UN assessment this month.

Guterres urged delegates in Glasgow to bring their emissions plans in line with a 1.5C pathway.

“This means that they must commit to net-zero by mid-century, with ambitious 2030 targets, and clear plans to achieve them,” he said.

The UN chief also called on developed nations at COP26 to make good on their promise to deliver $100 billion each year to countries already bearing the brunt of climate disasters.

READ ALSO: From Venice to Mont Blanc, how is the climate crisis affecting Italy?

“We need national leaders to follow your example and ensure the ambition and results we need at COP26 and beyond.”

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose country will host COP26, said via video link that “young people around the world are already paying the price for the reckless actions of their elders.”

“There is still just enough time to put on the brakes. We know what needs to be done, we just have to get on with it. Change on the scale we need is perfectly possible.”

Johnson summed up the summit aims as: “Coal, cars, cash and trees.”

“We want to move away from using coal as a way we generate electricity and move towards renewables,” he said.

“We want everybody to stop using internal combustion engine vehicles. We want to raise the funds that the whole world needs — the developing world in particular — to tackle climate change, and we need to plant hundreds of billions if not trillions of trees,” Johnson said.

“If we do that, we can make COP a success.”

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MAP: Which regions of Italy have the most Blue Flag beaches?

The list of Italy's high quality beaches has grown again this year. Here, we take a look at the regions where you can find the most beaches that meet the highest global standards.

MAP: Which regions of Italy have the most Blue Flag beaches?

A total of 427 beaches across Italy have been awarded the internationally recognised and coveted bandiera blu (Blue Flag) status for 2022. That’s 11 more beaches than the 416 awarded last year, and up from 246 in 2020.

The north-western coastal region of Liguria took the top spot for the number of best beaches again, claiming 32 stretches of coastline of Blue Flag quality.

It’s followed by Tuscany, Puglia, and Campania, with 18 beaches each.

Beaches only get awarded this status if they meet excellent water quality and environmental standards, assigned by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).

According to the latest edition of the list, Italy is home to 10 percent of the Blue Flag beaches worldwide.

Having a clean sea or good water quality standards aren’t enough to claim the recognition. The criteria for achieving the Blue Flag status comprises 33 areas of environmental, safety and educational specifications, including beach waste management, recycling, the presence of lifeguards and the cleanliness of changing facilities.

READ ALSO: Is Italy’s west or east coast the best place for a holiday?

We looked at the regions with Blue Flag status across Italy, based on the latest FEE data. In this map, you can find where to go for a beautiful and environmentally safe day by the sea.

Watch out for the specific beach with the classification, as some municipalities have been known to put flags across the whole coastline, rather than just on the stretch where the award applies.

Here’s a list of the Blue Flag beaches, according to region:

Liguria – 32 beaches

Bordighera, Sanremo, Taggia, Riva Ligure, Santo Stefano al Mare, San Lorenzo al Mare, Imperia, Diano Marina. Ceriale, Borghetto Santo Spirito, Loano, Pietra Ligure, Finale Ligure, Noli, Spotorno, Bergeggi, Savona, Albissola Marina, Albisola Superiore, Celle Ligure, Varazze, Camogli, Santa Margherita Ligure, Chiavari, Lavagna, Sestri Levante, Moneglia. Framura, Bonassola, Levanto, Lerici, Ameglia.

Liguria’s beaches have the highest concentration of Blue Flag status in Italy. Photo by Florencia Potter on Unsplash

Tuscany – 18 beaches

Carrara, Massa, Forte dei Marmi, Pietrasanta, Camaiore, Viareggio, Pisa Livorno, Rosignano Marittimo, Cecina, Bibbona, Castagneto Carducci, San Vincenzo, Piombino, Marciana Marina, Follonica, Castiglione della Pescaia, Grosseto.

Puglia – 18 beaches

Rodi Garganico, Peschici, Zapponeta, Margherita di Savoia, Bisceglie, Polignano a Mare, Monopoli, Fasano, Ostuni, Carovigno, Castellaneta, Maruggio, Ginosa, Melendugno, Castro, Salve, Ugento, Nardò.

READ ALSO: OPINION: How tourism could help save Italy’s coastline – instead of destroying it

Campania – 18 beaches

Vico Equense, Piano di Sorrento, Sorrento, Massa Lubrense, Anacapri, Positano, Capaccio, Agropoli, Castellabate, Montecorice, Pollica, Casal Velino, Ascea, Pisciotta, Centola, Camerota, Ispani, Vibonati.

Marche – 17 beaches

Gabicce Mare, Pesaro, Fano, Mondolfo, Senigallia, Ancona, Sirolo, Numana, Porto Recanati, Potenza Picena, Civitanova Marche, Fermo, Altidona, Pedaso, Cupra Marittima, Grottammare, San Benedetto del Tronto.

Breathtaking Puglia waters. Photo by Massimo Virgilio on Unsplash

Calabria – 17 beaches

Tortora, Praia a Mare, San Nicola Arcella, Santa Maria del Cedro, Diamante, Roseto Capo Spulico, Trebisacce, Villapiana, Cirò Marina, Melissa, Isola di Capo Rizzuto, Sellia Marina, Soverato, Tropea, Caulonia, Roccella Jonica, Siderno.

Sardinia – 15 beaches

Badesi, Castelsardo, Sorso, Sassari, Santa Teresa Gallura, Aglientu, Trinita’ d’Agultu e Vignola, La Maddalena, Palau, Budoni, Oristano, Tortolì, Bari Sardo, Quartu Sant’Elena, Sant’Antioco.

Abruzzo – 14 beaches

Martinsicuro, Alba Adriatica, Tortoreto, Giulianova, Roseto degli Abruzzi, Pineto, Silvi, Pescara, Francavilla al Mare, Fossacesia, Vasto, San Salvo, Villalago, Scanno.

Sicily – 11 beaches

Alì Terme, Roccalumera, Furci Siculo, Santa Teresa di Riva, Lipari, Tusa, Menfi, Modica, Ispica, Pozzallo, Ragusa.

To find your nearest blue flag beach, you can search the interactive map here.

Trentino-Alto Adige – 10 beaches

Bedollo, Baselga di Pine’, Pergine Valsugana, Tenna, Calceranica al Lago, Caldonazzo, Lavarone, Levico Terme, Sella Giudicarie, Bondone.

Lazio – 10 beaches

Trevignano Romano, Anzio, Latina, Sabaudia, San Felice Circeo, Terracina, Fondi, Sperlonga, Gaeta, Minturno.

Veneto – 9 beaches

San Michele al Tagliamento, Caorle, Eraclea, Jesolo, Cavallino Treporti, Venezia, Chioggia, Rosolina, Porto Tolle.

Emilia Romagna – 9 beaches

Comacchio, Ravenna, Cervia, Cesenatico, San Mauro Pascoli, Bellaria Igea Marina, Riccione, Misano Adriatico, Cattolica.

Basilicata – 5 beaches

Maratea, Bernalda, Pisticci, Policoro, Nova Siri.

Piedmont – 3 beaches

Cannobio e Cannero Riviera, Gozzano.

Friulia-Venezia Giulia – 2 beaches

Grado, Lignano Sabbiadoro.

Molise – 1 beach


Lombardy – 1 beach

Gardone Riviera.

To find your nearest blue flag beach, you can search the interactive map here.