6,000 Climate Activists Block 5 London Bridges, Demand Urgent Action
On Saturday, More than 6,000 climate activists shut down five bridges in Central London. The protest, organized under the banner of Extinction Rebellion to call for urgent action on climate change, was the first to intentionally block the bridges "in living memory," the group reported.
The mood was festive as demonstrators from around London held the bridges—Waterloo, Blackfriars, Southwark, Lambeth and Westminster—from around 10 a.m. to well into the afternoon. Extinction Rebellion had been building to Saturday's "Rebellion Day" since it launched itself into the public consciousness a little over two weeks ago by blocking traffic outside London's Parliament Square. The group hopes to pressure the government into increased climate action by using non-violent civil disobedience. Eighty-two were arrested during Saturday's demonstration, BBC News confirmed.
"Because the last two governments have rolled back significant policies which would have helped the UK reduce its carbon dioxide emissions," Margot Gibbs, a 30-year-old journalist from North London, told EcoWatch when asked why she was there. "And because a massive change is required."
Specifically, the group is calling for the UK government to institute policies that will allow the country to reach carbon neutrality by 2025, and to create a "Citizens' Assembly" to oversee those radical changes.
Saturday's protest wrapped up at 5:30 p.m. with a tree-planting ceremony in Parliament Square, according to Extinction Rebellion. A crowd of around 3,000 watched as an apple, plum and evergreen tree were planted just outside where the UK government meets. But that isn't the end for the growing movement. Organizers are calling for people to join them back at the square next Saturday for "Rebellion Day 2."
EcoWatch spoke with some of the thousands who traveled from across England to "rebel for life," as one of the movement's slogans reads. They came from a variety of places and had a range of professions, but were united in their commitment to get their government to act now.
Hannah Van Den BrulOlivia Rosane
Hannah Van Den Brul (30), North London
Van Den Brul is a musician and a Suzuki violin teacher. She said simply that she was there "because we need change now." She added she was also there "for the children." As a music teacher, she works with children ages two and up.
Pedro Pereira (left) and Maria Rosa (right)Olivia Rosane
Maria Rosa (38) and Pedro Pereira (40), Oxfordshire
Maria and Pedro are both scientists, a biologist and a civil engineer respectively.
"Time is running out for us," Maria said. "The government needs to wake up and realize that we need to change or else everything is going to go down the toilet. And because economic [factors] are more important for the government, we need to start acting, we need to show that we care about our future and our planet."
Pereira added that, as a scientist, he was "shocked" by the fact that people didn't pay more attention to the vast scientific consensus documenting that human-caused climate change is happening. "A lot of people think that it's still an opinion when it's not," he said.
David HalliganOlivia Rosane
David Halligan (27), Manchester
Halligan, who works at a bank, said that he came to the march "basically because time is running out, and the havoc that climate change is going to wreak is unimaginable in many ways, so we have to make sure we act now."
Dee RiggsOlivia Rosane
Dee Riggs (38), Somerset
Riggs is a full-time mom who had come to London with her children, aged two and five, a day before the protest to fit in a visit to the Natural History Museum.
"I'm here for my children," she said, "marching in the hope of saving their future." She added that the fact of the "Rebellion Day" gave her hope, instilling "a feeling of relief that there might be something we could do after so long."