MUNICH (AP) — About 3,500 protesters gathered in Munich on Saturday as the Group of Seven leading economic powers prepared to hold their annual gathering in the Bavarian Alps in Germany, which holds the G-7′s rotating presidency this year.
Police said earlier they were expecting some 20,000 protesters in the Bavarian city, but initially fewer people showed up for the main protest which started at noon, the German news agency dpa reported.
Fifteen groups critical of globalization, from Attac to the environmental organization WWF, will participate in the demonstrations. Their various demands include a phase-out of fossil fuels, the preservation of animal and plant diversity, social justice on the planet and a stepped-up fight against hunger.
“My demands for the G-7 are, that they have a clear commitment to energy transition, that is the exit from fossil fuels, all forms of fossil fuels, by 2035 at the latest, so we can stop financing wars and conflicts," said Kilian Wolter from the environmental group Greenpeace who participated in the protest on Munich's Theresienwiese lawn in the city center.
Earlier on Saturday, members of the antipoverty organization Oxfam posed at a different Munich protest wearing oversized heads of the G-7 leaders demanding more global equality.
“We need concrete action to cope with multiple crises of our times,” Oxfam spokesman Tobias Hauschild told The Associated Press. “That means the G-7 have to act immediately. They have to fight hunger, inequality and poverty.”
Germany's top security official called on protesters to refrain from violence.
"I expect all demonstrators to protest peacefully, not to hurt anyone and not to destroy any cars or stores,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser told news portal t-online.
A total of around 18,000 police officers are deployed around the summit site and the protests.
The G-7 leaders — from the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan — are expected to start arriving in Germany on Saturday afternoon and will tackle issues such as Russia’s war on Ukraine, climate change, energy and the looming food security crisis.
“ Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine is also having an impact here,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in his video podcast on Saturday referring to rising prices for groceries, gas and energy.
The chancellor said the G-7 leaders would discuss the current situation triggered by the war "and at the same time ensure that we stop manmade climate change.”
The G-7 summit will take place in Bavaria’s Elmau from Sunday through Tuesday. After the meeting concludes, leaders of the 30 countries in the NATO alliance will then gather for their annual summit, which is being held Wednesday through Thursday in Madrid.
Grieshaber reported from Berlin, Philipp Jenne and Pietro De Cristofaro contributed from Munich.
Daniel Niemann And Kirsten Grieshaber, The Associated Press