Economy minister António Costa Silva (third from right) meets with climate activists on Tuesday, November 15 at the Ministry of Economy building
Economy minister António Costa Silva (third from right) meets with climate activists on Tuesday, November 15 at the Ministry of Economy building Photo: RODRIGO ANTUNES/LUSA

Climate activists arrested after meeting with economy minister

Youngsters glued hands to entrance of Ministry of Economy

Five climate activists, who are part of a group which has been carrying several protests across Lisbon, were arrested and are due to appear in court after gluing their hands to the entrance of the Ministry of Economy following a meeting with the minister on Tuesday.

The activists were set free from PSP’s 4th police station in Lisbon after 10pm, more than four hours after their arrest.

Young climate activists occupied several schools in Lisbon last week, demanding the end of fossil fuels by 2030 and the resignation of the minister of economy, António Costa Silva, whom they accuse of defending fossil fuels.

After leaving the police station, the youngsters vowed to resume the occupation of schools next spring and carry out “increasingly disruptive” actions against gas, as it is also a fossil fuel.

On Monday night, activists announced the end of school occupations, which also resulted in arrests at the Faculty of Arts at Lisbon University, the only one that requested police intervention to force the students to leave the site.

Given the willingness of the minister of economy to meet with six of the youngsters after they stormed a building where the minister was having a meeting on Saturday, the meeting at the Ministry of Economy took place on Tuesday.

Dozens of other youngsters remained outside the ministry, holding posters with phrases like “Renewables for all”, “If not us, who?” or “State of emergency”, and shouting words like “Costa Silva resign”.

The meeting lasted less than 30 minutes and saw the activists handing the minister a letter of resignation to sign.

The “resignation request” written by the youths, as if it were the minister, says that Costa Silva acknowledges that he defends “a growing commitment to import natural gas”.

“As the minister of economy and maritime affairs, I was incapable of performing the functions that are intended of a government,” says the document that the youths handed the minister, accusing him of ignoring proposals to create 200,000 jobs for the climate and defending “the profits of oil companies”.

Reporters were initially told the minister would not make any statements but ended up speaking to the press just as police were removing the young women from the ministry’s entrance.

Costa Silva told journalists that the young people had not presented him with any proposals and had only presented a “letter of resignation”, which contained “several false facts”.

Saying that dialogue with the young people must be maintained, Costa Silva said he was prepared to listen to them and was waiting for proposals, explaining how the government was responding to climate change.

“But they don’t want to discuss the solutions, they focused on my path,” Costa Silva said, adding that he explained to them that he has been fighting for decarbonisation for 20 years, even when he worked in an oil company, and that he has long taken public positions in favour of renewable energy. And he said that he would not resign and that changing one person does not change anything.

Source: LUSA