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Profile: The vet who quit to combat the climate crisis

We must do 'whatever it takes for the environment' says Beatrice Costantino of the Ultima Generazione group.

(By Paul Virgo) (ANSA) - ROME, JUN 6 - With a lucrative career ahead of her after qualifying as a vet, Beatrice Costantino looked set for a life of prosperity, success and happiness.
    Had she been born a few decades earlier, that is no doubt what she would have gone on to realise.
    But Costantino is one of many young people who see little point of living a conventional life with the climate crisis casting a dark shadow over any future that they may plan for.
    So she quit her job to focus on what is the number one priority for her, and perhaps should be for everyone - fighting the climate crisis, full time.
    "I joined a project of civil disobedience called Ultima Generazione, Last Generation," Costantino told ANSA referring to a group that stages disruptive protests to demand climate action, along the lines of the actions of Just Stop Oil and Insulate Britain in the UK.
    "We are all projects that try to force the government to immediately act in a radical way.
    "What we really need to do, and to think, is that we should do whatever is necessary, as people, not just as activists or individuals. We really need to do whatever is necessary, whatever it takes for the environment and for society and human life," she added, inadvertently paraphrasing the famous statement Italian Premier Mario Draghi made when he was in charge of the European Central Bank at the height of the Eurozone crisis ("I'll do whatever it takes to save the euro").
    "This is the way the climate crisis has changed my life.
    "I try to change some individual habits, but it's not enough, of course.
    "I think that the really big change of society today is to switch from an individual point of view of ourselves to a collective point of view, to not think of ourselves as consumers or individuals anymore and to start to conceive ourselves as citizens, members of a society".
    Despite devoting her whole life to fighting the climate emergency, Costantino does not like to be called an activist.
    She says this term separates environmentalists from the rest of the population, creating an artificial divide when global warming is set to affect everyone.
    She prefers to be described as a "concerned citizen".
    This particular concerned citizen is not afraid to put her health on the line for the cause.
    She went on a hunger strike with two other Ultima Generazione members for 11 days earlier this year to demand a public meeting with Ecological Transition Minister Roberto Cingolani to discuss Italy's climate policies.
    They eventually got the encounter, although not until the group had apologized following acts of vandalism and an incursion into offices that the ministry said had frightened staff.
    The group, which said it only apologized for scaring staff and not for the vandalism, were not satisfied with the answers they got from the minister at the meeting.
    But they have no intention of giving up.
    "We are in an ecological and climate crisis so we need to stop all the fossil fuels use and stop the destruction of all the ecosystems," she sad "Italy signed the Paris Agreement, according to that agreement Italy should get to zero emissions by 2030, so of course the Italian government is not doing enough.
    "We have to change everything and the point is that everything will change anyway.
    "That's what people still need to understand.
    "Sometimes people just want to change their lifestyle, but just a bit, and continue working, they think work is against the environment and the environment is against work.
    "But the point is that if the climate collapses, everything will stop. We will stop eating. We will stop working.
    "We will stop drinking too because 20% of Italy is going to be desertified.
    "It's not a matter of opinions or habits or what I like and I don't like. It's about what is necessary to survive.
    "In the Mediterranean area the temperature is rising 20% more than the global average.
    "Italy is a country that is really affected by climate change.
    "We have so many coastal cities that are going to be covered by the sea.
    "The Po, the main river in Italy, is (almost) empty (at the moment after months of drought). Agriculture is in serious difficulty in the north.
    "They don't have any water for crops.
    "So I think that water scarcity is going to be one of the major problems in the future".
    When asked what people who are worried about the climate crisis should do, her answer was succinct: "join us. That's the message". (ANSA).


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