A new direct action group demanding action on climate change is currently obstructing access to key government buildings as part of a week of non-violent uprising.
Extinction Rebellion, which is backed by prominent environment journalist George Monbiot, is protesting against what it calls the government’s “criminal inaction” on the climate emergency and ecological crisis.
Seven people have been arrested so far for being glued to the fence outside Downing Street, while another team are blocking vehicle access. Activists have also dropped banners from Westminster bridge.
The week is due to culminate this Saturday (17 November), dubbed Rebellion Day, when the group will block five bridges across the capital.
The group wants the government to reverse all policies inconsistent with addressing climate change; introduce legally binding targets to greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2025; and create a citizen’s assembly to oversee these changes.
Those joining the action and who said they are prepared to be arrested include labour councillor Skeena Rathor and her daughter, who said: “We believe in miracles and human genius but the reality is we are on the threshold of social and climate collapse. We are about to lose all our present freedoms and so we offer ourselves for arrest with hope and courage in our hearts – to ask for leadership and truth – for our children.”
Another protester, Joseph Mishan, a father and healthcare professional, said he joined the group after seeing the recent IPCC report, which warned the temperature rises must be limited to 1.5 degrees if climate collapse is to be averted.
He said: “I am putting myself forward for arrest because I was shocked by the IPPC report and the silence that followed. It was like being given a terminal diagnosis but without a treatment plan. I wondered if I was the only person who heard it. Or if I had dreamt it.”
The Extinction Rebellion action began this week with a march address by Monbiot and other activists, and occupation of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Speaking on a podcast episode by news outlet Novara Media, Monbiot said radical action such as that taken by Extinction Rebellion could help other members of public, as well as politicians, wake up to the severity of climate breakdown, and inspire a more wide-ranging and effective response.