Extinction Rebellion says UK is being driven ‘over a cliff like a bunch of lemons’ as it slams fossil fuel use
Extinction Rebellion accused the government of “driving us over a cliff like a bunch of lemons” as campaigners call for an end to fossil fuel licences
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Extinction Rebellion (XR) protesters have accused the UK government of “driving us over a cliff like a bunch of lemons” as the group called on ministers to tackle the climate emergency.
Hundreds of XR activists marched through central London on Monday (24 April) on the final day of a four-day demonstration.
Campaigners marched through central London as part of a mass demonstration dubbed “The Big One”, which began on Friday and was supported by more than 200 organisations including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.
Climate activist George, from Guilford, travelled down to Westminster to take part in the march from Parliament Square to Jubilee Gardens to "end fossil fuels". She told NationalWorld: “I would like not to be here because I’d like to feel secure that our leaders are looking after us but from what I see it’s the very opposite.”
She stressed “there is nothing more important” than joining the climate action, adding: “I’ve changed my career, the way I live my life, I’ve tried to decarbonise myself, I’ve got rid of my car and stopped flying.”
But despite “trying really hard” to do all she can, she said “you can’t be perfect within this system” and admitted that there are some barriers in tackling climate change.
She said “There are still things that I do like. I did fly recently to see my mum because she was ill. Sometimes I will eat an egg, I go on buses and trains, I’m probably wearing some trainers that are made of fossil fuels.
“If you want to not fly, taking a train is a lot more expensive than flying. My mum lives in the south of Spain and it is really hard for me to see her, it costs me £500 and takes three days. The government is stopping the change that people want.”
Fellow XR activist Hayley Whelan, from Nottingham, said she had travelled to the march because it is “such a vital cause” that “we all have to be a part of”.
She explained: “It’s all of our futures and we can’t keep living in this capitalist bonkers trap of money over people and the planet.”
The march on Monday was one of many actions taken by XR over the course of ‘The Big One’ movement, which served as a space for climate groups to come together and build a united approach to forcing government action.
More than 60,000 people descended on the streets of Westminster across the weekend with Peoples Pickets set up at every major government ministry in Whitehall, daily Peoples Assemblies and marches making their demands for action clear to everyone.
Ms Whelan told NationalWorld she joined the XR movement and ‘The Big One’ weekend because she has children and wants them to “have a future, and for everyone to have a future”.
She said: “We all need to start making a change and that’s not going to happen unless people shout, be present and take action”
‘We sacrifice a lot to do this and we do it for everyone’
Steve, 67, from North Devon, had been stewarding and taking part in the action over the weekend and said an estimated 70,000 people were present at the protest on Saturday (22 April).
He told NationalWorld: “I think that is the biggest environmental protest this country has ever seen. There were so many people that we marched all the way round Lambeth Bridge, back to Parliament Square where we were held up for 20 minutes because the back of the march hadn’t left the Square - that is how many people were there”
He added that despite the sheer number of people it remained “beautifully calm and peaceful”.
Asked about what he would say to those who object to XR’s protest and the disruption, he said: “We don’t object to there being a Marathon. Why should we object to there being a demonstration that is asking the government to protect the lives of future generations in this country and around the world. “Why would you object to that?”
He added: “The public need to understand that it is for their future that we are doing this, it is not for us. We sacrifice a lot to do this and we do it for everyone.
“Because if we don’t and they don’t do anything there won’t be a future for young children born today.”
Elsewhere, Amena, a 28-year-old climate activist from Tunisia who moved to the UK last year, said the inaction on climate change and curbing its consequences is a universal problem, not just one affecting the UK.
She was marching to demand an end to the construction of the East African crude oil pipeline (EACOP) which is set to transport oil from a biodiverse national park in Uganda to a port in Tanzania, more than 870 miles away.
The main backers of the multibillion dollar project are the French oil company TotalEnergies and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC). They are seeking insurance from some of the world’s largest multinational commercial insurance companies to get the project off the ground.
Most of these companies are members of Lloyd’s of London and the campaign is putting pressure on these insurance companies and banks that still haven’t ruled out the project.
The International Energy Agency said in 2021 that no new oil and gas fields could be built if the world was to stay within safe limits of global heating
While marching, Amena told NationalWorld: “It’s not a British problem, it’s not a French problem, it’s a human problem. The people do have the power and the more people join in, the more the governments are going to have to make a change.”
She added: “Most of the time it feels quite difficult to fight this fight because people do not always listen. It is easy to feel isolated but being part of such a big group like this you feel you have a chance.”