Extiniction Rebellion climate activists will blockade the area around parliament on 1 September in protest at the lack of green policies in the government’s plans to rebuild the UK economy after coronavirus.
With parliament set to return, the activist group is preparing to peacefully block access to the area until the government agrees that the first thing they will do on their return is to debate XR’s three demands: To tell the truth about the crisis; act now; and set up a citizen’s assembly.
Last week Boris Johnson announced measures to rebuild the British economy including infrastructure projects under the “build, build, build’ banner”. The climate crisis received little attention in the prime minister’s announcement, despite his claims he wanted to “build back greener”.
“We want an economy that grows health and wellbeing,” said Dr Gail Bradbrook, co-founder of XR.
“Not debt and carbon emissions. An economy that prepares and protects us from shocks to come, rather than making them worse. An economy that shares resources to meet all our needs, regardless of background. An economy that chooses life.”
It will be Extinction Rebellion’s first major protest of 2020, and the first since October 2019, after their May Rebellion was cancelled in March due to lockdown.
The announcement follows the release last week of the annual report by the government’s official advisors, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which has suggested ways to commit to a green recovery involving retrofitting homes with insulation, planting trees, and developing infrastructure for cycling and walking.
It also stated that government should “demonstrate planning” for two to four degrees of warming.
In a statement released with the report, the chair of the CCC’s Adaptation Committee, Baroness Brown of Cambridge, said: “Covid-19 has shown that planning for systemic risks is unavoidable. We have warned repeatedly that the UK is poorly prepared for the very serious impacts of climate change, including flooding, overheating and water shortages. Now is the moment to get our house in order, coordinate national planning, and prepare for the inevitable changes ahead.“
Alex Armitage, a paediatrician and member of Doctors for XR, said: “We are now living through a new phase of the pandemic, but there is a far greater threat to our health: climate and ecological breakdown. The lockdown was an opportunity to confront the huge challenges of climate change, but the government is now pushing us in the opposite direction.“
Simultaneous actions will also take place in Wales and Scotland allowing people to protest in their nearest location, with a digital protest planned for those unable to travel.
Mr Johnson said on Friday that XR activists should be “jumping for joy” over the government’s environment policies.
Speaking on LBC, he told Nick Ferrari: “I think they should be supporting the incredible things this Government is doing to combat climate change and if I were Extinction Rebellion I would be jumping for joy.
“Look at our plans for a green recovery, look at the amazing things we’re going to do to get this country making wind turbines, making batteries, the ambition I announced for a ‘jet zero’ – to be the first country to produce a zero-emission long-haul passenger jet.
“I mean, Extinction Rebellion should look at some of the things this government is doing to tackle climate change and support us.”