70 Climate Protesters Arrested in London, Including Olympic Athletes
Seventy people were arrested in London on Saturday as climate activists continue to engage in acts of civil disobedience in the UK.
Among the 70 arrested Saturday were six people who climbed and glued themselves to an oil tanker near Hyde Park, BBC News reported. Two of the tanker scalers were former Olympic athletes Etienne Stott and Laura Baldwin. Stott won a gold medal in canoeing, while Baldwin participated as a sailor.
“I am acting to try to disrupt the toxic fossil fuel industry that is destroying everything we hold dear,” Stott said in a press release emailed to EcoWatch. “I am hoping we can slow it down long enough to create a moment where everyone can stop and think where we are going and change course. We need our government to rein in these companies and stop investing in fossil fuels now, rather than allowing oil companies to continue their stranglehold on our lives and our future.”
Saturday’s demonstration capped ten days of Extinction Rebellion protests in the UK capital calling for an end to all new fossil-fuel investments. Greenpeace, Green New Deal Rising and Just Stop Oil also support the demand.
The protests come as the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report warned that carbon dioxide emissions must fall by 43 percent by 2030 if global warming is to be halted at 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, which scientists say is essential for preventing the worst impacts of the climate crisis. In response to the report, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said investing in new fossil fuel projects was “moral and economic madness.”
“I feel desperate for our government to act on the climate crisis,” Baldwin said in the press release. “But it is doing what the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, says is moral and economic madness by expanding fossil fuel extraction. I’ve been moved to take action having witnessed scientists and doctors risking their liberty to tell us that we will lose everything we love unless aggressive cuts to emissions are made immediately, and by people losing their lives and livelihoods right now around the world. This is the most critical time in the history of humanity and I feel I must do all that I can to raise the alarm.”
Baldwin, Stott and four other activists scaled the tanker with a banner reading, “End Fossil Filth.” Other demonstrators surrounded them with signs reading, “End Fossil Fuels Now.”
Elsewhere in London on Saturday, dozens of people were arrested at the Marble Arch when they climbed it to drop a banner also reading, “End Fossil Fuels Now,” as BBC News reported. Eight activists also blocked the road by locking themselves to a car, while two others glued themselves to the roof.
Saturday’s protests followed demonstrations Friday that blocked four busy London bridges, though no arrests were made, The Guardian reported.
All told, more than 600 people have been arrested at environmental protests in the UK over the last two weeks, AP News reported. In addition to the Extinction Rebellion protests in London, the group Just Stop Oil has been targeting oil tankers, terminals and depots around the country.
The direct-action tactics of the protests have earned some criticism, including from government authorities.
“[W]hile we value the right to peaceful protest, it is crucial that these do not cause disruption to people’s everyday lives,” Energy Minister Greg Hands said, as AP News reported.
However, Stott argued that the disruption was necessary.
“I am aware that my actions will cause anger to many people and I am prepared to be held accountable,” he said in the press release. “But our government should also be held to account for its decisions which are destroying our planet’s ability to support human civilisation.”