Global Shutdown as Extinction Rebellion Protests Begin
Global protests at the hands of organisation Extinction Rebellion (XR) are beginning to take place as dozens of activists are being arrested.
The group aim to bring Central London to a halt as they commence protests to force governments to take action on climate change. The environmental campaign group are also carrying out demonstrations across the world including countries like Australia, America and India over the same two-week time period. Their site states they aim to: “continue to rebel against the world’s governments for their criminal inaction on the Climate and Ecological Crisis”.
Last week, the group made the news after using an old fire engine to spray fake blood onto the Treasury in Westminster. Eight individuals were arrested in the demonstration in which 1,800 litres of red liquid were drenched all over the streets of London after they lost control of the hose. Smaller protests were also staged during London Fashion Week where protesters enacted a funeral ceremony.
The bloc have successfully mobilised a great number of people in efforts to “shut Westminster down.” They are occupying many areas in London including Trafalgar Square and Downing Street with over 30,000 protestors – this number of people is far greater than what the turnout at the April protests.
XR officially came to fruition in October 2018 where an assembly was held in London’s Parliament Square. Fast forward two years and the organisation now has over 400 groups in over 70 countries. They use non-violent methods of protest to fight mass extinction and climate change. It is no doubt that climate change has become an ever-increasing issue in international media. With strong-named activists like Greta Thunberg monopolising the media and creating similar movements, more and more people are coming together in hopes to draw the government’s attention to the harsh reality.
In under a year, XR has certified itself as one of the UK’s highest-profile environmental campaign groups, helping raise attention to green issues to a record high. XR are calling for action and urging governments and administrations to cut down on the use of fossil fuels and other unsustainable resources. Their logo represents the Earth with an hourglass inside to symbolise that time is running out.
The organisation has only three demands. “Campaigners want governments to declare a climate and ecological emergency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2025, halt biodiversity loss, and be led by new “citizens’ assemblies” on climate and ecological justice.”
With the demonstrations causing great disruption to international streets, the group considers arrests as an enforcement of change. They believe great movements such as the civil rights movement or the suffragettes failed to have a great impact without arrests being made. Tens of arrests have been made all over Europe with 30 charged in Australia, and 50 arrested in Amsterdam for violating protest behaviour. Over 200 people were arrested in London on the first day of protesting alone.
It is thought that Westminster police are not refraining from detaining protestors. Following delayed arrests in Aprils protests, there are now more than 1,000 officers at the base of the demonstrations. XR are trying to push their agenda as much as they can during these two weeks through any means of civil disobedience. Activists in New Zealand chained themselves to a pink car, while those in Germany set up camp outside Angela Merkel’s office to object a recent plan she drew up against climate change. Those in London carried around coffins labelled “Our Future” while an elderly woman glued herself to the floor to exemplify the climate emergency and urgency for action.
The campaign has greatly received both support and backlash from the public. Workers are often disrupted by the closed streets and argue they are deterring their income and ability to work. Home Secretary Priti Patel also called the activists “eco-extremists” and while at a book launch on Monday evening, the British prime minister Boris Johnson called them “uncooperative crusties”.
Climate change and the global humanitarian crises some countries are facing are indistinguishably linked. The droughts and food shortages brought about by global warming is leading to the displacement of thousands that could soon turn into millions as they seek refuge and shelter elsewhere. In today’s political climate, the situation may worsen as many are likely to face problems with borders, immigration and asylum.
As the protests continue over the fortnight, more arrests can be expected and given the turnout, perhaps governmental change can be affected. The fight for climate change has begun and as Greta Thunberg stated: “the world is waking up.”