Ecological pressure group Extinction Rebellion are planning a wave of events over the Bank Holiday weekend intended to remind Brits that while we’re in the grip of a coronavirus epidemic, the climate crisis hasn’t gone away.
Starting today with a blockade of the Prince Street Bridge, in Bristol, and fanning out nationwide with protests about the planned HS2 route in Manchester and Birmingham, and events in London, Oxford, Cardiff, Leicester, and York there will be very few parts of England that don’t see at least some Extinction Rebellion activity.
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As well as protests against the oil and aviation industries, there’ll be events designed to put pressure on the international banking industry. Extinction Rebellion say: “The world of dirty finance should be taking a permanent ‘holiday’ from destructive dealings and propping-up polluters.
“We do not want our money to support ecocide at a time of climate and ecological emergency. Polluting businesses and industries need to be ‘Closed For Good’.”
But of course all of this activity will make it difficult for Brits hoping to get out of town to enjoy the last Bank Holiday before Christmas.
All of these roadblocks, marches, sit-ins, bike rides and picnics will inevitably have a knock-on effect on holiday traffic.
Poppy Silk, 19, a Bristol University student and member of Extinction Rebellion Youth, says it’s worth it: “During the pandemic, the government has proved that they are unable to keep us safe in the face of emergency.
“Now is the time for adults to listen to young people and join the youth in demanding the government address the climate and ecological crisis in a way that addresses the deepening inequality in our society."
She continued: “We have signed petitions, striked from school for two years and still they refuse to care about our futures. As Greta Thunberg says, when it comes to action the world’s leaders are still in a state of denial.
“Extinction Rebellion Youth will be out in force, taking bold, non-violent action this weekend to say: ‘Will you listen to us now?’.”
There’s also the threat of these mass gatherings sparking a new outbreak of Covid-19.
But Chris Newman, a GP who supports Extinction Rebellion, told reporters that the organisers are “mindful” of the health risks.
He said: “Everyone in XR that I've spoken to is extremely mindful of the risks and we're all concerned about health risks.
“That's why we're here, because climate change is a health issue as much as anything.
“So everyone will be pushing very hard for all XR participants to be obeying Government rules with social distancing, with them avoiding protests if they're unwell, or if they have to isolate.”
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