Singing climate activists disrupt Swiss parliament

Singing climate activists disrupt Swiss parliament
The protesters were eventually escorted away by security staff. Photo: Adèle Thorens
Around 40 protesters interrupted a session in the Swiss parliament on Thursday in a bid to draw attention to the issue of climate change.

The climate activists from the Klimastreik (Climate Strike) group sang the Italian folk song ‘Bella Ciao’, which has become a global freedom hymn.

They also unfurled a banner reading “It’s the final countdown 16 months left” – a reference to the 2020 global emissions target.  According to climatologists, these emissions should peak in 2020 if global warming is to stay within the 1.5–2C range, considered crucial for the future of the planet.

The protest was designed to show Swiss MPs that young people in the country want an ambitious and concrete plan for fighting climate change, one of demonstrators told Swiss news agency SDA.

The parliament was discussing measures but there was no time left for discussion, the activist added.

The interruption to parliamentary proceedings lasted around five minutes with the activists ignoring calls from the president of the lower house of parliament for them to stop.

The activists were eventually led away by security personnel and their details were taken.

MPs’ reactions to the interruption were mixed. Greens MP Regula Rytz described the action as “brave” and “necessary” in a tweet.

But Christian Democrats MP Ida Glanzmann was less enthused. She said interrupting the parliament in the name of climate change could have the opposite effect and annoy a great many people.

Environmental issues have taken centre state in Switzerland this year with many young people taking part in the global Fridays for Future 'school strikes' movement which is inspired by Swedish teen Greta Thunberg and designed to get politicians to take action on climate change.

Switzerland's Greens party is also riding high in the polls in the lead-up to federal elections in Switzerland next month.

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