More than 100 protesters have been arrested in the past few days as climate change lobbyists Extinction Rebellion (XR) launch their latest international action campaign against the fossil fuels industry amid the countdown to COP26 in November.
The campaign group said it expects thousands of people will take part in their "Impossible Rebellion", which they said will "target the root cause of the climate and ecological crisis".
However, at least 108 of its members had been arrested in London alone by early afternoon Wednesday.
The anti-fossil fuels demonstrators the previous day had blocked Whitehall in protest against the UK’s HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and banking giant Barclays over the funding of fossil fuels industries.
“We’ve COP26 coming up — how can the UK government possibly claim to be a world leader on climate action whilst bankrolling Barclays with public money? There are absolutely no excuses for HMRC signing contracts with a bank which causes so much harm to the climate, saidRhiannon Hargreaves, a financial analyst.
“In just three years from 2016 to 2018, Barclays provided US$85 billion in funding to fossil fuel companies and tens of billions continue to be invested each year, yet global wildfires and flooding are causing devastating destruction to so many regions.”
Other members of the protest group on Tuesday poured fake oil over the activists and then proceeded to pour fake oil over the windows of iconic British department store Selfridges to highlight the fashion industry’s increasing reliance on fossil fuels, especially oil.
The fashion industry is responsible for up to 10% of annual global carbon emissions, said XR.
“If the industry does not accelerate its response to the climate crisis, it will produce around twice the volume of emissions it requires to stay within the limits set by the Paris Agreement global warming pathways by 2030,” it said in a statement.
The two weeks of action that started on Monday has already targeted Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden in England’s capital city where XR had set up a giant pink table to blockade shopping streets.
That was dismantled by specialist officers while demonstrators who had glued themselves to the structure were removed.
In tandem with the activists kicking off a fortnight of action in the UK, XR on Monday blockaded for around five hours Norway’s Oil Ministry in Oslo before police cleared the building and dispersed demonstrators from outside.
Norway's Minister of Petroleum & Energy, Tina Bru, said she shared the protesters’ concerns regarding climate change but criticised their tactics, which included blockading the ministry’s reception for several hours.
"We'll never succeed in the fight against climate change if we scrap democracy on the way," Bru said in a statement.
Meanwhile, West Australian police last week raided the homes of six climate activists after chalked graffiti appeared on a bridge in state capital Perth’s Central Business District during a protest against Woodside Petroleum’s proposed Scarborough gas project.
The WA Today online news portal reported the activists were each charged with property damage and ordered to pay A$2000 (US$1452) in reparations each.
They were later released on bail on conditions including they did not go within 200 metres of Woodside’s headquarters in the CBD.
“If Woodside is so concerned with property damage, perhaps they should reconsider the threat Scarborough Gas poses to significant Aboriginal rock art,” XR member Carmen Stobaus was quoted by WA Today.
“What’s worse — some washable chalk on a bridge, or a fossil fuel giant that will permanently damage Aboriginal rock art and destroy any chance we have of a safe climate?”.
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