Thursday, 17 October 2019

Climate campaigners join two-week demonstration

Climate campaigners join two-week demonstration

CAMPAIGNERS from Extinction Rebellion’s Henley branch journeyed to London this week to take part in a mass protest on climate change.

Protesters were hoping to “shut down parliament” with their demonstrations, with members of the Henley group saying they were willing to be arrested for the cause.

On Monday morning, a group of about 12 people met at the railway station in Station Road before heading off to the capital to take part in the protests.

Ian Petrie, 68, of Vicarage Road, Henley, who is the branch’s co-ordinator said he was willing to be arrested if it meant forwarding the cause.

He said: “I am personally willing to be arrested. For the last 30 years, people have talked with politicians and the end result has been empty promises and rising carbon levels.

“There has to be systemic change of a substantial nature that comes from the Government. It needs to set up a citizen’s assembly. It makes the process demographically correct and gives representation at all levels. I have spent too much time reading the science to ignore this problem.”

Many of the activists dressed up as bees, a symbol for Extinction Rebellion’s cause, as they see a link between the extinction of bees and humanity.

They went on to take part in a series of “die-ins” where they lay on the ground and pretend to be dead.

Gerda Barraclough, 78, of Blandy Road, Henley, added: “We have seen the writing on the wall and I really want to make a difference.

“This can be constructive if we do it in a nice way. For me this is about the children of the future. I just feel so sorry for them. The most wonderful thing is that this is non-violent.”

Maggie Atkinson, of Queen Street, Henley, took part in the protests with her husband Ed. She said: “It has been incredible. It is such an amazing experience and there is a real sense of uplifting about the whole thing.

“Everyone feels like they are living in the moment and doing their little bit for this major emergency.

“It is inspiring to see everyone doing their best to make it work and give us hope among all the darkness that this is an inevitability. We have got to believe it can be turned around.”

Mr Atkinson added: “The bigger picture is that the scientists are stunned by the lack of action in the whole of society. We are standing up for reality and for all those people that don’t yet have a vote.” By the end of Tuesday police had made more than 500 arrests as activists carried out different methods of demonstration.

Some glued themselves to a government department building and to the underside of a lorry, while another protester attached himself to the top of a trailer with a bike lock for more than 28 hours in Trafalgar Square.

The demonstrations were condemned by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who called the campaigners “uncooperative crusties” after they caused disruption around Westminster.

Meanwhile, Henley MP John Howell collected a tree from the campaigners on Tuesday, as members of Extinction Rebellion placed around 800 native trees at Old Palace Yard.

Extinction Rebellion started in 2018 and is calling for zero carbon emissions by the year 2025. It is an international movement and members use non-violent methods of protesting to call for action on climate change.

Protests were also held this week in Berlin, Amsterdam and Sydney to coincide with the United Nation’s Climate Action Summit.

More than 1,000 people were arrested the last time campaigners gathered in London in April.

The Henley group has about 40 members and many of them are taking part in the two-week demonstrations.

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