Greta Thunberg meets Italian PM as activists clash with police at Youth4Climate event
Giles Gibson in Brussels
Europe;Milan, Italy

Climate ministers are also meeting in Milan this week ahead of COP26 in November 

Greta Thunberg with Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi. /Palazzo Chigi press office via Reuters.

Greta Thunberg with Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi. /Palazzo Chigi press office via Reuters.


Climate activist Greta Thunberg met Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi at a youth climate summit in Milan on Thursday. The Youth4Climate event is taking place as climate ministers also converge on the Italian city for the Pre-COP summit, the final round of preparatory talks before the United Nations COP26 climate change conference in November. 

Video footage released by the Italian Prime Minister's office showed Draghi talking to Thunberg and two other young activists. An environmentally friendly refillable water bottle was perched on the coffee table in front of Thunberg. 

"You're right to demand accountability and change," said Mario Draghi in a speech to the Youth4Climate event, which was briefly interrupted by protesters. 

"Under current trends, we are falling short of our promise to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees [Celsius]," he added.


Protesters and police clash in Milan. / via Reuters

Protesters and police clash in Milan. / via Reuters


'Coal, cars, cash and trees' 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was also in Milan, telling the conference that world leaders are aiming for progress on four key issues at COP26: "Coal, cars, cash and trees." 

"We want all the countries in the world to move off coal. We want everybody to stop using internal combustible engine vehicles and it can be done, people are moving away from them as we speak," he added. 

Another issue expected to dominate the pre-COP26 talks is climate finance. Under the terms of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, wealthy countries pledged $100 billion per year to help developing nations respond to climate change. However, funding has so far fallen well short.


'Blah blah blah' 

Earlier in the week, Thunberg had publicly mocked politicians for how they talk about climate change and environmental issues.


Greta Thunberg addresses the Youth4Climate conference. /Reuters

Greta Thunberg addresses the Youth4Climate conference. /Reuters


"Net zero by 2050, blah blah blah. Net zero, blah blah blah. Climate neutral, blah blah blah. This is all we hear from our so-called leaders: words, words that sound great but so far have led to no action. Our hopes and dreams drown in their empty words and promises," said Thunberg. 

Meanwhile, a small group of protesters clashed with police on Thursday morning local time in Milan. Video footage showed activists in white boiler suits confronting police wearing helmets and brandishing riot sticks. 

Last week, thousands of activists also marched in Europe and across the world in the latest "Fridays for Future" protest.

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