Climate protesters in Portugal storm building, urge minister to step down

Protestors demonstrate against climate change in Lisbon

By Catarina Demony and Miguel Pereira

LISBON (Reuters) - Hundreds of protesters angry about the climate crisis took to the streets of Lisbon on Saturday, with dozens storming a building where Portugal's Economy Minister Antonio Costa e Silva was speaking demanding that the former oil executive resign.

Holding banners and chanting slogans, protesters demanded climate action. As some demonstrators broke into the building, those outside shouted: "Out Costa e Silva!"

Police officers dragged the protesters out of the building. Portuguese broadcaster RTP reported the minister left the building through a back door.

The economy ministry declined to comment.

The protest in Portugal took place as world leaders, policy makers and delegates from nearly 200 countries gather at the COP27 U.N. climate summit Egypt, where they hope to keep alive a goal to avert the worst impacts of climate change.

But some activists do not believe COP27 will solve the problem.

"COPs are not designed to face climate change because it would need more participation from civil society, less participation from lobbyists from the fossil industry," said Pedro Franco, a 27-year-old student.

Joao Duarte, 23, also pointed a finger at governments for favouring the "monetary interests" of big companies instead of putting climate change at the top of the political agenda.

"There will be no change until governments stop being best friends and allies of the big companies," he said.

U.N. experts said in a report on Tuesday that promises by companies, banks and cities to achieve net-zero emissions often amount to little more than greenwashing.

"The situation is serious and urgent," Marta Leandro, the VP of Portuguese environment group Quercus, said at the protest in Lisbon. "What we do or do not do in this decade will have a great impact on climate security."

(Reporting by Catarina Demony, Miguel Pereira and Pedro Nunes in Lisbon; Editing by Diane Craft)