Climate change activists blocked roads and vandalised the headquarters of Shell yesterday as protests organised by the Extinction Rebellion group continued.
Thousands of people joined the demonstrations across central London as campaigners parked a pink boat at Oxford Circus and blocked Waterloo Bridge, Marble Arch, Piccadilly Circus and roads around Parliament Square. Police arrested 52 protesters.
At the Shell HQ, a glass revolving door was shattered and two activists climbed above the entrance, writing “Shell knew” and “Shell knows” on the building. A protestor who glued himself to the building's revolving door said: “Shell has known about the impact the fossil fuel industry is having on our planet for decades. They've done nothing but deceive, lie and undermine any efforts at transition to renewables.”
Extinction Rebellion is calling on the UK government to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025 and form a citizens’ assembly to urgently tackle climate breakdown and biodiversity loss. It is part of a global campaign, with demonstrations planned in 80 cities across 33 countries in the coming days.
In response, the Metropolitan police has arrested demonstrators after issuing an order under section 14 of the Public Order Act, which allows conditions to be imposed on “public processions” and “public assemblies”. However, demonstrators said the arrests were being made at a gradual rate.
Commenting on the protestors’ tactics, one of the environmentalist movement’s leaders said: “Suddenly what Extinction Rebellion has done is actually say: ‘we are doing this.’ And the state is so weak through austerity that they can’t stop us.”
Several major roads in the capital were brought to a standstill with roads gridlocked in surrounding streets. The AA said the disruption had been significant.
Extinction Rebellion says their actions are based on research into how to use “non-violent civil disobedience to achieve radical change”.
The group has written to Theresa May, warning that the group will escalate its disruptive actions over the coming days and weeks unless the government acts on its demands.