Wednesday May 22, 2019

London Climate Change Protesters to Call a Halt if Government will Consider their Demands

Some 963 arrests have been made and 42 people charged in connection with the ongoing Extinction Rebellion protests

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london, climate change
Police arrests protestors at Oxford Circus in London, Friday, April 19, 2019. The group Extinction Rebellion is calling for a week of civil disobedience against what it says is the failure to tackle the causes of climate change. VOA

Climate change protesters who have brought parts of London to a standstill said Sunday they were prepared to call a halt if the British government will discuss their demands. Some 963 arrests have been made and 42 people charged in connection with the ongoing Extinction Rebellion protests.

On the seventh day of demonstrations that have occupied key spots in the British capital, Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg addressed the demonstrators, telling them: “Humanity is standing at a crossroads.”

Organizers said they were willing to switch tactics from disruption to dialogue next week — if the government enters talks.

“We are prepared to pause, should the government come to the negotiating table,” Extinction Rebellion spokesman James Fox told AFP. “What the pause looks like is us stopping an escalation. “We can discuss leaving if they are willing to discuss our demands.

climate change, london
Some 963 arrests have been made and 42 people charged in connection with the ongoing Extinction Rebellion protests. VOA

“At the moment, we haven’t received a response from the government… so we’re waiting on that.” Extinction Rebellion was established last year in Britain by academics and has become one of the world’s fastest-growing environmental movements.

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.

“We’re giving them an opportunity now to come and speak to us,” Fox told AFP. “If they refuse to come and negotiate with us, then this is going to continue and this is going to escalate in different, diverse and very creative ways.”

Thunberg, the 16-year-old activist who has inspired pupils worldwide to boycott classes to join climate protests, addressed the cheering crowds at the Marble Arch landmark, the only authorized demonstration site.

climate change, london
The road is blocked by demonstrators during a climate protest at Marble Arch in London, Tuesday, April 16, 2019. VOA

“For way too long the politicians and people in power have got away with not doing anything at all to fight the climate crisis and ecological crisis,” she said.

“But we will make sure that they will not get away with it any longer.” She continued: “How do we want the future living conditions for all living species to be like? “Humanity is now standing at a crossroads. We must now decide which path we want to take.

“We are waiting for the others to follow our example.” Police said they had managed to clear the protesters from Parliament Square and the Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus junctions.

Those charged range in age from 19 to 77. They hail from around England and Wales, with one person from France charged. The charges are for various offenses including breaching public order laws, obstructing a highway and obstructing police.

Calling for an end to the protests, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said more than 9,000 police officers had been responding to the demonstrations, which had left the force as a whole overstretched.

climate change, london
Students hold banners and posters during a demonstration against climate change in New York, March 15, 2019. VOA

“This is now taking a real toll on our city… this is counter-productive to the cause,” he said. “I’m extremely concerned about the impact the protests are having on our ability to tackle issues like violent crime.

“You must now let London return to business as usual.” In the blazing sunshine on Waterloo Bridge, police lifted protesters and carried them off to waiting police vans.

ALSO READ: Experts Claim, Climate Change Can Affect Food, Water Security

“I’m genuinely terrified. I think about it all the time. I’m so scared for the world. I feel like there is going to be calamity in my lifetime,” student Amber Gray told AFP.

“I don’t even feel comfortable bringing children into this world knowing that that is coming. “And I don’t want people in the future to say to me, ‘why didn’t you do anything?’.” (VOA)

Next Story

EU Countries Consume Earth’s Resources Faster than they can be Renewed: Report

Some 100 Greenpeace activists and students from several European countries marched through Sibiu carrying a huge banner saying "Broken Climate Broken Future"

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earth's resources
France's President Emmanuel Macron, right, and President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker speak during the informal meeting of European Union leaders in Sibiu, Romania, May 9, 2019. VOA

The European Union’s 28 countries consume the Earth’s resources faster than they can be renewed and none of them has sustainable consumption policies, a report released Thursday said, as EU leaders met to discuss priorities for the next five years.

“All EU countries are living beyond the means of our planet. The EU and its citizens are currently using twice more than the EU ecosystems can renew,” the report by the World Wide Fund (WWF) and Global Footprint Network said. It was issued as leaders met in the Romanian city of Sibiu to set the course for the bloc after Britain’s planned departure from the EU.

Climate change key priority

French President Emmanuel Macron said before the summit that climate change was among his key priorities and it was included in the bloc’s 10 “commitments” for the future until 2024, agreed by all the 27 leaders meeting in Sibiu.

earth's resources
The European Union’s 28 countries consume the Earth’s resources faster than they can be renewed and none of them has sustainable consumption policies. Pixabay

But the bloc is divided on how to achieve any ambitious climate goals and it remains far from clear how the Sibiu declaration would be implemented. Some 100 Greenpeace activists and students from several European countries marched through Sibiu carrying a huge banner saying “Broken Climate Broken Future.”

“We cannot talk about a prosperous future without a healthy climate,” Greenpeace climate activist Alin Tanase told Reuters. Views on concrete action to be taken to combat climate change differ between EU countries, influenced greatly by their dominant industries, such as carmakers in Germany or the coal industry in Poland.

Tusk sensitive to climate change

The chairman of the summit, President of the European Council Donald Tusk, said there was no future for politicians who were not sensitive to climate change and environment protection issues.

“The young generation is much more united on this than the member states. The truth is that nothing has changed when it comes to this divide and different opinions about this. What is new is this very fresh and energetic pressure,” he told a news conference after the summit.

climate change, earth's resources
Some 100 Greenpeace activists and students from several European countries marched through Sibiu carrying a huge banner saying “Broken Climate Broken Future.” VOA

Climate protection and sustainable development is also an important topic in the election campaign for the May 23-26 European Parliament elections, which will influence the leadership of European institutions and their programs.

The European Commission has been pushing for the EU to become climate neutral by 2050 through reducing carbon emissions that will otherwise boost the Earth’s average temperatures with devastating consequences.

“The EU uses up almost 20 percent of the Earth’s bio-capacity although it comprises only 7 percent of the world population,” the WWF report said. “In other words, 2.8 planets would be needed if everyone consumed at the rate of the average EU resident,” it said.

climate change, earth's resources
FILE – Climate change demonstrators hold banners in front of the Winston Churchill Statue during a protest near Parliament in London, April 12, 2019. VOA

ALSO READ: Billionaire Jeff Bezos Reveals Mockup of Lunar Lander, Embraces Trump’s Moon Timetable

Luxembourg smallest but fastest

It said the EU’s smallest and richest country, Luxembourg, was also the one which used up renewable resources the fastest last year. Just 46 days into the year, it had consumed its full share of the Earth’s resources, it said.

The EU’s poorest nation, Romania, took the longest to arrive at that point, on July 12th. But that was still earlier than the world’s average of Aug. 1, called Earth overshoot day. (VOA)