Monday September 23, 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

Worldwide Protests against Climate Change to Draw More than One Million Participants

A day of worldwide protests against climate change is underway that organizers predict will draw more than one million participants

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Worldwide, Protests, Climate Change
Activists march in a climate change rally in London, Britain, Sept. 20, 2019. VOA

A day of worldwide protests against climate change is underway that organizers predict will draw more than one million participants, the largest-ever expected demonstration decrying the man-made causes of a warming planet.

Friday’s protests began across Asia, where hundreds of thousands of students and others took to the streets calling for action against climate change ahead of a United Nations summit on the issue. The protests later spread to Africa and Europe, with huge crowds filling the streets.

In Australia alone, more than 300,000 children and adults rallied with the backing of some local authorities, schools and businesses. School Strike 4 Climate in Australia said the throngs of protestors represented the largest climate protest in the country’s history. Warmer weather patterns have taken a toll on Australia, sparking drought, flooding, more intense brushfires and the whitening of the Great Barrier Reef.

Smaller protests occurred across Asia, from the Philippines to Hong Kong and India.

Worldwide, Protests, Climate Change
Activists call for action against climate change at a rally in Karachi, Pakistan, Sept. 20, 2019. VOA

Rallies are also underway in the United States, where organizers say more than 800 events have been planned, including several high-profile demonstrations in New York. More than 1 million students in some 1,800 New York City public schools have been allowed to skip school in order to participate.

In Africa, protests were held in Nairobi, Kenya and in the South African cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria. Experts say Africa is the most vulnerable continent to climate change and the least equipped to deal with the phenomenon.

Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg helped inspire the protests, staging weekly demonstrations for the past year calling on world leaders to bolster efforts to combat climate change. Friday’s Global Climate Strike is the third of several worldwide climate rallies organized by students and led by the 16-year-old Thunberg.

Thunberg is scheduled to speak at an emergency U.N. climate change summit on Monday, when Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expected to urge world leaders to exceed their commitments to the 2015 Paris climate accord.

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Guterres has demanded that countries present plans of direct action, including ending construction of coal-fired power plants and reducing fossil fuel subsidies.

Countries that are committed to the Paris agreement have pledged to limit the long-term rise in the Earth’s average temperature to two degrees over pre-industrial levels.

Worldwide, Protests, Climate Change
Kenyan protesters, predominantly young people, march demanding their government take immediate action against climate change, in Nairobi, Kenya, Sept. 20, 2019. (M. Yusuf/VOA) VOA

A U.N. report to be released next week is expected to conclude that global warming and pollution are devastating oceans and polar regions, raising risks for ecological devastation around the world.

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The Trump administration has cast doubt on a broad scientific consensus that the earth is warming and human activity is mostly to blame. (VOA)