People vs Government – Climate Change Protests
Evington residents were amongst thousands of climate change protesters who recently brought London to a standstill.
Thousands of supporters of the international, apolitical network ‘Extinction Rebellion’ swamped the capital’s streets, campaigning against the lack of government action on climate change, forcing the Government to pay attention to the environmental crisis and finally act to stem the threat of mass extinctions and rising sea levels due to ‘global warming’.
An Evington environmental activist, who was among many protesters from Leicester, told me,
“People have had enough of being ignored. So many people, from all walks of life, have come to show that they are determined to do something to stop mankind from destroying the Earth, and it’s about time that the Government faced up to the fact that it actually needs to do something about it! All sorts of people were there – not just your stereotypical activists. There were pensioners and whole families with young children there – all concerned with the legacy and state of the world that the next generation will inherit.”
Extinction Rebellion and the protesters had three specific demands to the Government:
1 – to ‘Tell The Truth’ – to declare that there IS a climate emergency
2- to ‘Act Now’ – to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to achieve a ‘carbon neutral’ status by 2025
3- ‘Beyond Politics’ – to set up and be led by the decisions of a ‘Citizens’ Assembly’ – made up of ordinary people – to discuss carbon neutral solutions and ecological and climate justice.
“It was a well-coordinated, polite and peaceful protest, despite the sheer number of people involved. Extinction Rebellion have strict rules. To take direct action, but with no violence, no alcohol and no swearing; it was that peaceful that some people blocking the road were playing chess! They kept people informed about how they could protest without the risk of being arrested – sitting in the middle of the road, blocking the traffic was illegal, camping out on the grass outside Parliament for a week with banners was not. Some people chose to help out other protesters with their wellbeing; others were handing out suncream on that unusually hot day.”
But, illegal or not, people didsit in the middle of the road. Supporters from the East Midlands joined others blocking Parliament Square and Westminster Bridge focusing on the ‘People’s Assemblies’ theme – on the first day at least there were very few arrests – there were simply far too many people camped out in the road for the police to do anything!
Oxford Circus was blocked by thousands of people addressing ‘telling the truth’ about climate change – the centrepiece of the protest being a pink boat in the middle of the road – if global warming is not tackled, rising water levels will submerge many major cities by 2050 and Central London would be underwater.
There were many high-profile speakers including the actress Emma Thompson and Greta Thunberg – an inspirational 16-year-old girl from Sweden who started the climate strike rebellion in schools. She stated, “We are standing at a crossroads – you are all here today because you have decided which way to go.”
More people were eventually arrested after blocking London’s major arteries for a whole week, as well as those who allegedly took more radical measures of supergluing themselves to a train and the headquarters of Shell UK – which shows the strength of feeling about these issues.
‘People power’ on this scale seems to have had an effect – on May 1stParliament declared a state of ‘Climate Emergency’ – let’s hope something is actually done to tackle this problem. Our local protester said, “We have approximately 11 years to make a difference – before it’s too late to undo the massive damage that mankind has done to the planet in just 100 years. Ways we can achieve this are to stop burning fossil fuels and make the change to sustainable, clean energy: wind, wave, solar and hydroelectric. Walk or cycle more and drive less. We also need to make changes to our diet; meat and dairy production use so much more energy and land than (healthier) plant-based alternatives.
We need to work together to make that change before it’s too late. If enough ‘little people’ are committed to work together, they can have a big voice and make a big difference. We need to make sure that the world we pass on to our children and grandchildren is one worth living in.