Climate change activists are disrupting traffic and public transport throughout central London this week to demand action to halt ecological disaster. They’ve been denounced by Tory ministers and business leaders for causing chaos and disrupting business, but Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, Caroline Lucas the Green MP, and Clive Lewis, the Labour MP for Norwich, have all publicly supported the protests.
Several thousand protesters have set up camps and road blocks in Westminster whilst others glued and chained themselves to government buildings and lorries as part of a 14-day environmental protest in 60 cities throughout the world. Some 600 demonstrators have been arrested and the police have called on reinforcements from the provinces to deal with the protests that are planned at City Airport and other high-profile centres in the heart of the capital.
The London protests were called by Extinction Rebellion (XR), a green campaign that was set up last year by a number of academics and veteran ecology campaigners to use Gandhi-style civil disobedience to take the movement to the streets and fire a common sense of urgency to tackle climate breakdown.
In April they brought London to a standstill with a wave of protests that caused traffic jams and grid-lock across the capital. Now they hope to do the same as part of an “International Rebellion” to shut down cities and disrupt business through peaceful protests calling for urgent action to tackle the ecological emergency facing the planet.
At the protest camps young eco-warriors were heartened by the news that seasoned campaign Daniel ‘Swampy’ Hooper has, once again, joined the fray. ‘Swampy’ spent a week living in a tunnel in a bid to halt the re-routing of the A30 in Devon in 1996. Hooper now lives in West Wales and he’s just been fined for attaching himself to a concrete block during an XR blockade of the big Valero oil refinery in Pembrokeshire last month.
Speaking at the launch of yet another book about Margaret Thatcher on Monday evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson labelled Extinction Rebellion protesters as “unco-operative crusties” who live in “heaving hemp-smelling bivouacs”, and said his security team didn't want him to attend the event because they feared he might be hit by eggs from the climate change protesters. But his father, Stanley Johnson, who openly supports the ecological campaign and says he’s “very impressed” by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, has agreed to join an XR panel for a climate change debate in Trafalgar Square this week.
Jeremy Corbyn says the next Labour government will create thousands of jobs in windfarms as part of a new green agenda for Britain. The Labour leader unveiled plans to create around 70,000 jobs in offshore windfarms part-owned by the public this week. Thirty-seven new offshore windfarms would be built under a 10-year plan for clean energy to reduce emissions to net zero and keep global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees. Wind energy would increase fivefold and benefit from an £83bn investment.
The project would be a joint venture between publicly owned Regional Energy Agencies (REAs) and existing offshore wind developers.
The REAs would hold a controlling 51 per cent stake in all new windfarms, with 20 per cent of their profits being invested back into coastal communities and 80 per cent reinvested into decarbonising the economy and tackling climate change.
Jeremy Corbyn said: “The full scale of the environment and climate emergency cannot be ignored. As scientists and activists have made clear, we need immediate and radical action to have any hope of keeping temperature rises to a manageable level.
“We know the big polluters and banks won’t take the necessary action. So the next Labour government will kick-start a Green Industrial Revolution, protecting our planet and creating hundreds of thousands of high-wage, high-skill unionised jobs across the country and delivering investment for communities that have been held back for decades.
“Labour’s 10 year plan will provide the massive public investment needed to radically reduce our emissions and secure a future for our planet.”