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Climate group provoke road rage with controversial protests

Ultima Generazione undeterred by hostility they are attracting

(ANSA) - ROME, JUL 1 - One of the strongest ways to offend someone in the Italian language is to curse their ancestors by saying 'Mortacci Tua' - your deplorable dead.
    It is an insult that the Ultima Generazione (Last Generation) group have been hearing a lot in recent weeks after launching a campaign of climate protests in which they have been stopping traffic on Rome's GRA motorway ring road in the morning rush hour.
    And the ensuring road rage hasn't been limited to insults.
    Perhaps unsurprisingly, on several occasions motorists facing delays have taken the law into their own hands, using force to remove the protestors sitting on the highway.
    The group have released a series of videos of their actions, including one in which a male member of the group is dragged by the hair of his ponytail to the side of the road by furious man.
    "You're hurting me," said the protestor to which the motorist replied: "who gives a shit?" The determined protestor in question rapidly took back his place in the middle of the fast lane while the motorists were dragging away others.
    The hostility has not been limited to the people directly affected by the protests.
    Many commentators on the group's Facebook page accuse them of being the spoilt brats of wealthy parents ('figli di papà) and blast them for "breaking the balls" of ordinary people getting to work, rather than those of the rich and powerful.
    One commentator said keeping people held up on the ring road during the heat wave Italy is currently enduring is "an attack on people's health".
    Another went even further, comparing Ultima Generazione to the terrorist groups of Italy's so-called 'Years of Lead' of political violence in the 1970s.
    Although there are also many messages of support, there is little chance of Ultima Generazione winning any popularity contests any time soon.
    If the insults and rough treatment were not enough, there are also the major safety risks they are running.
    Another video shows a group of protestors walking out in a line across the lanes of fast-moving traffic, with the man leading the line comes terrifying close to getting hit by a van.
    So what makes them do it? Ultima Generazione, which is part of the A22 network of similar groups in several countries such as Just Stop Oil in the UK, Stop Old Growth in Canada, Derniere Renovation in France and Declare Emergency in the United States, has repeatedly said it does not like disrupting people's lives.
    But the group of 'concerned citizens' feel they have no choice given the gravity of the climate crisis.
    "We know that we may alienate some," Beatrice Costantino, a qualified vet who quit her career to dedicate herself full-time to fighting the climate emergency with the group, told ANSA.
    "Polarising, disruptive actions get a lot of media attention and generate public debate, much more than any other kind direct action. "Most of the people actually agree with our demands, although they disagree with the methods.
    "For instance, about 60% of Italian people think that we should produce more renewable energy and abandon fossil fuels.
    "As a civil resistance movement, we care only about the cause and the demands, and we are not looking for appreciation for ourselves.
    "That's why we're not afraid of alienating the majority.
    "We're looking for the support of a little minority (1-2% of the population) who would like to join us.
    "We're confident that this is the number of people that we really need for a non-violent revolution".
    Italy is currently enduring its worse drought in decades, provoking a massive emergency for agriculture with the prospect of water rationing in parts of the country looming.
    Ultima Generazione say this is just a taste of what the climate crisis has in store and see hardcore civil disobedience as the only way to stop humanity sleepwalking into climate breakdown.
    They are demanding that the Italian government closes all of Italy remaining coal plants, halts all new projects for gas exploration and drilling and increases Italy's energy-generation capacity from solar and wind power by 20GW a year.
    They say they won't stop until these demands have been satisfied, arguing that causing hassle for ordinary members of the pubic is a necessary evil.
    "By disrupting the public, we create a collective drama," Costantino said.
    "People forced to act out of fear, anger and love for life, people afraid to arrive late to work, to school, to the hospital.
    "Policemen forced to remove peaceful protesters from the streets and charge them, even if they recognise that it's their right.
    "We cannot get constant, deep discussion about the climate and ecological emergency without touching people's emotions".
    (ANSA).
   

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