By Shawna Healey
Thousands of protesters have blocked five of London’s main bridges to protest climate change, resulting in 50 arrests.
The environmentalists, organised by a group called Extinction Rebellion, have occupied Blackfriars, Waterloo, Westminster, Lambeth and Southwark bridges since 10am on Saturday morning. The group said the protest aimed to highlight the government’s “inaction” on climate change. The sit-in protest was planned in advance with the group having almost 500 people signed up to protest in October.
It is estimated that 6000 people took to the streets to protest climate change in Central London on Saturday. In France there has also been protests about fuel prices following France’s recent climate change commitments.
Extinction Rebellion is part of a national activist group, Rising Up, which, according to their website, are a new organisation aiming to be a social movement. They are calling for a fundamental change to the political and economic system to one which maximises well-being and minimises harm.
The group recently released a statement in The Guardian, saying: “The failure of politicians to tackle climate breakdown and the growing extinction crisis means the ‘social contract’ has been broken … [and] it is therefore not only our right, but our moral duty to bypass the government’s inaction and flagrant dereliction of duty, and to rebel to defend life itself.”
Roger Hallam, one of the founders of Extinction Rebellion, is calling on the government to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025. They also aim to establish a “citizens assembly” to devise an emergency plan of action similar to that seen during the second world war.
The Metropolitan Police said the protests have caused “significant traffic disruption” in central London.
Opinion on the protests on social media is divided, some praising the protest and others adding their criticism.
One user tweeted: “On Waterloo bridge there’s a huge protest for climate change and global warming. Ironically they’ve left a TON of litter. Are you kidding me?”
Caroline Lucas, MP of Brighton Pavilion and former leader of the Green Party, tweeted: “Solidarity with all those peacefully resisting species extinction. Scientists warn we’ve just 12 years to avoid climate crisis. New report shows that we’ve destroyed 60% wildlife populations in 40 years. Conventional politics have failed us. That’s why we need #ExtinctionRebellion”.
Another twitter user added: “If we can have more non violent protests across the globe, then maybe Governments & Corporations will finally do something to address #ClimateChange #ExtinctionRebellion.”
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