In Munich, a crowd of thousands of protestors was the welcoming party for some of the most powerful leaders on the planet.
For the next few days, Germany will host the G7 meeting of the world’s richest nations and demonstrators came armed with demands.
“I have come here because the politics of the G7 countries are unjust and intransparent,” said Florian Leiner who is planning to take part in the demonstrations scheduled throughout the leader’s summit.
“G7 make private creditors cancel the debt of the global south,” another among the crowd demanded while just behind her a group chanted about ending climate injustice.
The demands were varied but linked by a common theme – that the leaders mustn’t forget the health of the planet and its poorest as they try to tackle some of the biggest problems in the world.
The G7 group consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as the European Union.
Russia was suspended from what was previously the G8 in 2014 following the annexation of Crimea.
When Germany took over the G7 presidency it had initially planned for climate change to dominate the meeting being held at Schloss Elmau, in the Bavarian Alps.
But then Russia invaded Ukraine and now leaders face additional challenges including war, food shortages and securing energy supplies.
Fears over fossil fuels
While climate is still on the agenda, some campaigners fear energy is being put ahead of the environment as supplies are squeezed.
Russia’s recent reduction of gas to Germany forced it to raise its alert level with warnings it may not hit its storage targets for the winter.
It’s one of the countries where coal will have to help fill the gap.
“I’m very concerned that this summit is being used by the G7 leaders to amplify their efforts to go into fossil energy.
“But the answer to Putin must be to phase out fossil fuels as soon as possible and to enter into a phase with renewable energies and more solidarity around the globe,” explained the executive director of Greenpeace Germany, Martin Kaiser.
‘A club of rich powerful people’
Others in the crowd were worried that so much power is held in the hands of so few.
Wearing a Boris Johnson face mask, Judith stood beside a fancy dress Macron, Biden and the rest of the seven to challenge the very concept of the club.
“I’m here because I think that the G7 is a club of a few very rich but powerful people, and they do not have the right to put our standards on all of the world,” she said.
After the march, frustration bubbled over as a small group scuffled with police.
But the tension was brief and quickly contained.
No doubt, G7 leaders will be hoping any disagreements over the next few days will be diffused just as quickly as they prepare to debate the numerous crises facing the world.
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