Campaign group Extinction Rebellion brings gridlock to the city in protest of climate change

BY TOBY PORTER
toby@slpmedia.co.uk

Protesters have been blocking roads and bridges for more than two days at vital junctions as part of climate change action – and are set to continue into tomorrow.

Campaign group Extinction Rebellion has offered its “sincere apologies” to members of the public who have been affected at Vauxhall, Tower Bridge, and Elephant and Castle.

But they have stressed “this relatively minor inconvenience could save us all from catastrophic consequences in years to come”.

Its statement it said: “We have informed the police, and will of course allow emergency vehicles to pass.”

Police have now warned drivers and motorcyclists not to go near the central part of South London – or north of the river – as the protests are set to continue through today and into tomorrow.

Extinction Rebellion’s (ER) disruptive protests aim to cause gridlock across the capital, in a bid to highlight “the impending economic and environmental breakdown we face if the Government fails to act now.

Extinction Rebellion demands the Government tell the truth the about the climate and ecological emergency”.

The Met advised in a tweet against driving into the city. Its roads and transport department said: “On November 22-24, there will be protests across London that may result in delays to your journey. We advise not to travel by car or motorbike.

If you do drive into London please note attempting to drive through protesters in the road is very dangerous and illegal.”

These roadblocking protests will continue until what ER has dubbed Rebellion Day 2 – tomorrow in Parliament Square.

Phil Kingston, lecturer in social work, 82, who was arrested on Blackfriars Bridge on Saturday, said: “The best bit was going on the bus, the driver invited me on.

He knew we had been there about six minutes by then.

“When I said my bit to people downstairs, he said to me to go upstairs. I gave out all the leaflets to explain why I was there, for their kids and my grandkids.”

Dr Larch Maxey, Research Fellow at the University of Plymouth, said: “I’m really amazed at how well it has gone. Literally on Vauxhall, everything just backed up, the traffic is flowing but really, really slowly.

It is clearly causing a lot of economic disruption which is what you have to do to get the Government to listen. In terms of reaction from people, when they hear that this is about climate change they understand.

Demonstrators on Westminster Bridge in London for a protest called by Extinction Rebellion to raise awareness of the dangers posed by climate change.

We’ve had so many people thanking us, even had a high-five.”

Robin Boardman, of Extinction Rebellion, said: “We want to sincerely apologise for any disruption caused to members of the public.

Londoners, we have a problem – the Government is not protecting the lives of future generations of Brits to come, due to its criminal inaction in the face of climate breakdown. This emergency deserves an emergency response.

“Therefore we tell the Government to be prepared for swarms of concerned citizens, who are willing to be arrested, converging throughout the day in central London.

Only through daily economic disruption and stopping business as usual will the Government be made to listen. We have informed the police and will of course allow all emergency vehicles to pass.”

The “swarming” planned by Extinction Rebellion is intended to protest at the wiping out of bee populations.

Dr Laila Kassam, of Extinction Rebellion, said: “Without insects – and with increasingly extreme weather events, such as this summer’s drought, chaos is fast becoming the norm. We’re now looking down the barrel of food scarcity and major problems for humans and all species.

“Extinction Rebellion is therefore peacefully ‘swarming’ to raise awareness of the magnitude of the problem we face.

We’ll stop when the government agrees to come clean to the public about the scale of the crisis we’re facing, to completely decarbonise our economy, and to the creation of a national Citizens’ Assembly. Until then, the rebellion continues.”

The planned action follows a day of rebellion on Saturday, where organisers claim 6,000 people blocked five of London’s bridges – 82 were arrested – to demand urgent action from the Government. ER’s demands are:

  • The Government must tell the truth about the ecological emergency, reverse inconsistent policies and work alongside the media to communicate with citizens
  • The Government must enact legally binding policy measures to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and to reduce consumption levels
  • A national Citizen’s Assembly must be created to oversee the changes, as part of creating a democracy fit for purpose.

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