London is at the centre of a global protest over “an ecological emergency”.
Extinction Rebellion is a protest movement that is holding actions in 80 cities in 33 countries around the planet.
Central London was brought to a standstill as thousands of demonstrators held peaceful actions aiming to highlight the catastrophic extinctions being caused by a failure to take big steps to stop climate change and environmental havoc.
The movement calls on the government to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025 and establish a citizens’ assembly to devise an emergency plan of action before it is too late.
It points to recent climate predictions that find humans face an existential threat if climate change is not drastically cut and the extinction of species continue to cause a mass loss of biodiversity across the planet.
Groups across the world are disrupting what the Extinction Rebellion call “business as usual.”
The movement vowed to risk arrest and imprisonment by blocking bridges, roads, harbours and transport systems.
Die-ins, cry-ins, funerals, banner drops, “blood spilling”, art and theatre are promised as part of a “festival of global protest.”
“When Government and the law fail to provide any assurance of adequate protection, as well as security for its people’s well-being and the nation’s future, it becomes the right of its citizens to seek redress in order to restore dutiful democracy and to secure the solutions needed to avert catastrophe and protect the future. It becomes not only our right, it becomes our sacred duty to rebel,” say the organisers of Extinction Rebellion.
Last October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a normally conservative body, warned countries need to radically change the way we live over the next 12 years to avoid catastrophic consequences.
Climate Extinction vow peaceful civil disobedience around the world “to disrupt the system that through no fault of its own, is geared to destroy our planet.”
Busy junctions at five of London’s iconic locations are being blocked, bringing much of the capital to a standstill.
There are events, festivals, speeches, performances at Marble Arch, Oxford Circus, Waterloo Bridge and Parliament Square. Extinction Rebellion Youth are marching from Hyde Park Corner towards Piccadilly Circus.
The group declare:
“The science is clear:- we are in the sixth mass extinction event and we will face catastrophe if we do not act swiftly and robustly.
“Biodiversity is being annihilated around the world. Our seas are poisoned, acidic and rising. Flooding and desertification will render vast tracts of land uninhabitable and lead to mass migration.
“Our air is so toxic that the United Kingdom is breaking the law. It harms the unborn whilst causing tens of thousands to die. The breakdown of our climate has begun. There will be more wildfires, unpredictable super storms, increasing famine and untold drought as food supplies and fresh water disappear.”
There has been at least one arrest so far.
Protesters smeared paint, graffiti saying “Shell knows” and shattered a glass revolving door at the London HQ of fossil fuel company Shell.
Activists said at least one arrest had been made as acts of civil disobedience spread across the capital. The campaign cites the civil rights and suffragette movements as inspiration.
Extinction Rebellion is backed by many scientists, academics, and public figures such as former archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.