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Norwich climate change activist to speak at Davos World Economic Forum

PUBLISHED: 08:50 21 January 2020 | UPDATED: 10:58 21 January 2020

Rupert Read, from Extinction Rebellion, will be speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Pic: Neil Perry.

Rupert Read, from Extinction Rebellion, will be speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Pic: Neil Perry.

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A climate change activist from Norwich will be speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he will urge billionaires in attendance to go green.

Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg takes her seat prior to the opening session of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Pic: AP Photo/Markus Schreiber.Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg takes her seat prior to the opening session of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Pic: AP Photo/Markus Schreiber.

University of East Anglia philosopher and former Green city councillor Rupert Read is one of a group of Extinction Rebellion campaigners who have made their way to Switzerland by train for the event.

Dr Read travelled to Davos by train, which took him 14 hours via Paris to Zurich. He said there were "incredible views" from the window of the train.

He said his message was unlikely to be well received by those at the forum.

He said: "We should end once and for all the ultra-high-consuming festival of mutual back-slapping that is the elites' 'world economic forum'.

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen smiles as she delivers a welcoming address, at the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland. Pic: Gian Ehrenzeller/Keystone via APPresident of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen smiles as she delivers a welcoming address, at the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland. Pic: Gian Ehrenzeller/Keystone via AP

"Davos is the problem. The demands of Extinction Rebellion - to revive democracy, so as to decide together exactly how to act really radically now on the climate emergency - are the solution."

Dr Read said he was aware it could be a "lion's den" experience.

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He said: "I don't know what our reception will be like, but I don't think many people will want to listen to what we have to say."

Climate protesters on a three-day protest march from Landquart to Davos. Pic: AP Photo/Michael ProbstClimate protesters on a three-day protest march from Landquart to Davos. Pic: AP Photo/Michael Probst

More than a hundred billionaires are due to attend the Davos event, with Extinction Rebellion managing to secure a speaking slot on Thursday via sympathetic participants.

Climate activist Greta Thunberg, who is also at the summit, which United States president Donald Trump is attending, spoke on Tuesday and said the movement sparked by her school strike is only the beginning in the fight against global warming, and said much more has to be done.

Speaking as part of a panel of young activists, the Swedish teenager said: "It wasn't only me, but all these young people pushing together ... to form these alliances.

"People are more aware now ... climate and environment are a hot topic now."

However, Ms Thunberg said the struggle against climate change will require more than just general awareness.

"This is just the very beginning," she said, adding that everyone needs to listen more to the science regarding climate change.

"Without treating it as a real crisis, we cannot solve it," she added.


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