Pasties, Pikachus & a Blimp: 8 Of the Most Creative Protests Demanding Action From G7 Summit
As world leaders gather to make key decisions, activists are making their voices heard.
Now that world leaders have descended on a picturesque part of the English coast in Cornwall, so too have campaigners and activists keen to make their voices heard.
From a floating blimp to knitted pasties (the famous local delicacy) - these protestors are going all out.
Leaders and representatives of the G7 countries — the US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the UK — are meeting at the summit, with the presidents of the European Commission and the European Council as well as the leaders of Australia, South Korea, and India (by video link) also joining the talks.
This summit will be particularly momentous, as the group will be discussing how their respective countries can work together to help the world recover from the COVID-19 pandemic — including pledging to share surplus vaccines with countries that need them.
Climate is also on the agenda — scientists have made it clear that we are at the beginning of a decisive decade to save the world from climate catastrophe. The UN warned in 2018 that the world had to slash carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 to keep global warming no higher than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, above which the impact of warming will be far worse.
That makes this summit a crucially important setting ahead of the UN climate conference, COP26, happening in Glasgow this November.
With all of this at stake, and more, it’s no wonder activists have wanted to show up and stand-out in creative ways to make sure leaders are aware of the important decisions that need to be made.
Here are some of the most inventive way campaigners have made sure their voice is heard:
1. The Joe Biden and Boris Johnson blimp
Two giant balloons depicting U.S. President Joe Biden, left, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson float on a dock during a 'crack the crisis' action by NGO's in the harbor of Falmouth, Cornwall, England on Friday, June 11, 2021.
That’s right, a blimp of US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson holding hands can now be seen surfing the waves in Falmouth's bay, the town that is hosting the world's media for the summit. The pair are waving, with the messages #crackthecrises and #waveofhope written on their hands.
Why? Well, the blimp was launched by Crack the Crises coalition which Global Citizen has joined along with nearly 100 other charities including Save the Children, Oxfam, and the ONE Campaign.
The group is pressuring the G7 to focus on addressing the four major crises the world is facing right now: COVID-19; inequalities; the nature crisis, and the climate crisis. All extremely important issues that the coalition hopes the blimp will remind these two political leaders to work together to address.
2.’ Mount Recyclemore’
A sculpture created out of e-waste in the likeness of Mount Rushmore and the G7 leaders in Hayle, Cornwall, England, June 9, 2021.
Sculptor Joe Rush has made a truly spectacular replica of the famous Mount Rushmore monument. But instead of four distinguished US presidents, he has styled the faces of the seven G7 leaders out of electronic waste in order to make a point of how little of it is recycled.
"It [electronic waste] needs to be repairable or made to last longer because the stuff is going into landfill,” Rush told the BBC. He’s chosen a prominent area just over the bay from the Carbis Bay Hotel where the conferences at the summit will be taking place to stage the sculpture.
“We have this looking at them and hopefully we're going to prick their conscience and make them realise they're all together in this waste business,” Rush said.
3. A swarm of illuminated drones
Stills from the Greenpeace video - 300 drones, 1 message: Act Now. The video is a message to world leaders attending the G7 summit in Cornwall, UK.
In one of the more extravagant displays, Greenpeace UK released 300 lit-up drones that zoomed out after dark to form the 3D shapes of animals that are endangered including a polar bear, a whale, and a cheetah. The shapes lit up the sky above the Cornish landscape and cliffsides before assembling into a formation.
The messages “Stop Extinction” and “Act Now” were beamed into the sky, accompanying the animals.
The environmental nonprofit has turned the spectacle into a powerful video calling on the politicians present to protect biodiversity before it is too late.
4. Extinction Rebellion’s creative extravaganza
World leaders enjoying our uncooperative Crusty, Climate Pasties. See if you can spot one today 🥟. #ActNow#G7ActNow#DrowningInPromises#StopFundingFossils@XRSouthWest@XRebellionUKpic.twitter.com/E3f1zF3RPR— XR St Ives (@IvesXr) June 11, 2021
Direct action climate campaigners Extinction Rebellion are out in force at the G7. First, around 80 activists, some dressed in theatrical blue costumes, spent six days walking 84 miles along the coast from Plymouth to the summit near St Ives, arriving on Thursday. They were walking to highlight how vulnerable that stretch of the coastline is to rising sea levels and soil erosion.
Then in St Ives, which the biggest town near to where the summit’s Carbis Bay Hotel is based, protestors have been seen dressed as birds, swooping upon the town to “sound the alarm” about the climate crisis, with supporters using “air horns, drums, rattles, and other instruments” to make their point, according to XR.
Other XR activists have been seen on the nearby beach dressed as each of the G7 leaders “rearranging the deck chairs” on the sand in a bid to show that without bold action, climate promises amount to “rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic” as it sank.
5. Amazing sand designs
Dear @G7 - 2.7M+ people demand a #PeoplesVaccine. Waive patents, share technologies & pay your fair share. Lives are in your hands!— Avaaz (@Avaaz) June 11, 2021
Check out our @FT ad and the message we brought to the beach in Cornwall calling on G7 leaders to deliver Vaccines for the World #G7Cornwall#G7UKpic.twitter.com/grlyFOoBpX
Sand art and sculpture has come with a message at the G7 summit.
The campaign group Avaaz created a giant sand artwork depicting each of the G7 leaders alongside a message reading “Share the vaccine, waive the patents”, at Watergate Bay beach, a few miles down the coast in Newquay. The art, seen from the air, is massive.
Avaaz is calling on wealthy countries and pharmaceutical companies to waive the intellectual property patents protecting the COVID-19 vaccine formulas, in order to allow low- and middle-income to start manufacturing the vaccines themselves.
5. Roaming Pikachus
This group of life-sized ‘Pikachu’ creatures from the famous Pokémon cartoon, have been spotted waddling on Falmouth beach and in the town carrying a sign calling on Japan to stop investing in coal. They are representing the campaign group No Coal Japan.
6. Oxfam’s G7 leaders fight over the COVID-19 vaccine
Activists wearing giant heads of the G7 leaders tussle over a giant COVID-19 vaccine syringe during an action of NGO's on Swanpool Beach in Falmouth, Cornwall, Friday, June 11, 2021.
Another group of activists resembling caricature versions of the G7 leaders were there on the beach at St. Ives too, this time from Oxfam.
They were pictured fighting over a syringe labelled with the names of the companies involved in making the COVID-19 vaccines — Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and so on — in a "tug of war."
The group are also calling on rich nations to share the vaccine patents so that poorer countries can make a start on manufacturing their own and ultimately have a better chance at rolling out the vaccine quickly and ending the pandemic.
7. Homemade protests
Climate action signs are placed on a lawn outside of a house near the G7 international media center in Falmouth, Cornwall, England, June 10, 2021.
Local residents in Cornwall have not missed out on using this opportunity to make their voices heard. The coastal region is on the UK’s frontlines of the climate crisis as it is at risk from rising sea levels and flooding.
A flurry of protest signs have appeared in the windows of houses in towns near the summit and in Falmouth, where the international media centre is based.
One household has gone to the effort of creating a cardboard graveyard in their garden representing the graves of endangered polar bears and under-threat “biodiversity.”
What is “pastivism” I hear you ask? It’s the term coined by local resident Neil Scott, who along with fellow activists, has put dozens of crocheted versions of the region’s most famous dish, the Cornish Pasty, dotted around the G7 summit’s locations.
The knitted pasties aren’t just there to celebrate local cuisine, they each carry a serious message about the climate crisis stitched on to them such as “Earth's crust is burning,” and “No pasties on a dead planet”. It’s pasty activism at its best.