An event aiming to raise awareness on climate change and coinciding with a global action day had to be called off yesterday after the Valletta council refused to issue a permit.

Friends of the Earth (Malta) teamed up with Moviment Graffitti and Greenhouse as part of global synchronised demonstrations calling on world leaders gathered in UN talks on climate change in Cancun to take urgent action.

However, Malta’s symbolic action never happened despite applying for a permit two weeks ago. Friends of the Earth chairman Martin Galea De Giovanni said the first application to stage the event in front of the law courts was rejected.

When they applied to hold the event in St George’s Square, the permit was turned down because they were told “there is not enough space”, Mr Galea De Giovanni said pointing towards the square that was virtually empty at 10.30 a.m.

He added that they were also prohibited from distributing flyers about their message, when numerous other organisations did so freely at City Gate.

When contacted, council mayor Alexiei Dingli said the permit was rejected because Valletta was full of Christmas-related activities at this time and the council had therefore urged them to hold the event in January. He added that the space at St George’s Square was normally reserved for bigger events.

“We have issued them with permits before. We have no issues with them,” Dr Dingli said.

The activists still went ahead and addressed the press, briefly displaying their banner with the words ‘Less Talk, More Action’, even though there were few people around to absorb the message.

They urged citizens to change their habits and adopt a more sustainable lifestyle, as this not only benefitted the environment but also made economic sense.

On a national level, they urged the government to have a clearer and more effective policy on carbon emissions.

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