London: Climate protesters stage sit down in Parliament Square
Hundreds of protesters from a coalition of groups staged a 15-minute sit-in at Parliament Square. One organiser described it as a way of getting people to “dip their toe” in civil disobedience.
Among the marchers was a makeshift white elephant named Nelly, held aloft by two people, which had “Stop HS2” printed on its head.
Climate activists have also staged a “die-in” protest in Glasgow city centre to demand action after the UK recorded its highest ever temperatures earlier this week.
Extinction Rebellion disrupted Buchanan Street, one of the city’s busiest shopping areas, after parts of the UK recorded temperatures higher than 40C.
Activists lay on the ground covered in white sheets with placards laid out on the “bodies” with the “causes of death” including heat stress, famine and water scarcity.
Protesters in Parliament Square
Police talking to members of environmental groups including Just Stop Oil
Onlookers stopped to witness the action while a sombre drum beat echoed through the popular shopping area.
In a statement on its website, Just Stop Oil said a coalition of groups including Just Stop Oil, the Peace and Justice Project and Insulate Britain would disrupt central London on Saturday with a mass swarming march.
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, the founder of the Peace and Justice Project, said: “It’s too hot and everything is too expensive. That’s the crisis. You can’t separate out the cost of living and climate crises. The whole system, which creates billionaires and starves hundreds of millions, is the crisis. It can’t be resolved, it must be overcome and transformed.
“Movements are the motor of change in history. When we come together, we can transform the world. And we must because those in power – the fossil fuel giants, the billionaires and the governments they own – are picking our pockets and stealing our future.”
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Protesters seated beside a banner at a mass protest in Parliament Square, London
People carry a banner reading ‘Change is now’ at the mass protest in Parliament Square
The organisers claimed the march would bring central London to a standstill and is just a taste of what they plan for the autumn.
Indigo Rumbelow from Just Stop Oil said: “Tuesday’s extreme heatwave was a warning about what we will face as the climate collapses – thousands of deaths, homes lost to wildfires and emergency services stretched to breaking point – we are so unprepared for extreme heat and it’s only going to get worse.”
“It’s clear that the politicians won’t save us. That’s why we want to bring together the broadest coalition we can to stop new oil and gas licensing and implement an emergency plan that will reduce our carbon emissions and put money back in people’s pockets. We are encouraging everyone to step up and join us on Saturday to help build the movement.”
The Parliament Square protest is the culmination of a series of marches which reportedly set off from separate locations, following different routes through London.
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Today’s actions come after five demonstrators scaled gantries supporting overhead motorway signs in three points along the M25, causing police to close sections of the road and nine-mile long tailbacks.
Protesters climbed signs at Junction 10 eastbound near Cobham, Surrey, the Poyle interchange at Heathrow between Junctions 14 and 15 and in Dartford between the Queen Elizabeth Bridge northbound and Junction 30.
A spokesman for Just Stop Oil said: “The main thing is, we’ve just seen 40C temperatures, which have been predicted for decades, maybe it’s happening a bit faster. But it has just revealed how inadequate the Government’s preparations for climate change are and their entire policy, and basically we’re just saying it’s evident now we cannot continue.
“As we’re going on, we need to stop new oil. It’s the first step to ensuring we have a liveable future, and maybe it’s already too late. This is something we definitely need to do.”
Protesters behind a banner reading, ‘Just Stop Oil’
The group said it chose the M25 as the site for the action as it is the place where protesters can confront the “carbon economy” headlong and bring its resistance into full public view.
Just Stop Oil is demanding the Government makes a “meaningful statement” that it will commit to stop licensing and consents for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK, which it says is “the necessary first step to ensuring a liveable future”.
It said it plans to hold further actions against oil infrastructure in coalition with trade unions, environmental groups and civil society organisations in the coming months.
A spokesperson for the National Police Chiefs’ Council said of the M25 action: “The ability to protest peacefully in a democracy is important and where lawful, forces will seek to facilitate protests – but even if a protest is peaceful and non-violent, this doesn’t always mean the actions taken by protesters are legal.
“We are concerned by the fact protesters are taking significant risks to their own safety and to the safety of others on the roads. Forces are working together, sharing information, and will take action against anyone acting illegally.”