Extinction Rebellion installed a huge pink table in central London at the start of two weeks of protest demanding the UK government stop investment in fossil fuels.
Activists chained themselves to the 4m high table near Leicester Square and said they were prepared to stay. Hundreds blocked the roads around Trafalgar Square.
The table was described as the “centrepiece” of crisis talks” in which Extinction Rebellion said it intended to talk to people about the climate emergency.
The installation launched XR’s Impossible Rebellion, its latest series of direct actions, marches and events.
The group called on people to rebel in the City of London until the UK government agreed to stop immediately all new fossil fuel investments.
Gail Bradbrook, Extinction Rebellion co-founder, said:
“Our leaders in Government and Business have been failing us for years, they are taking us over a cliff. If they are in any way serious about tackling this existential crisis then they would immediately stop financing fossil fuels, because continuing to pour petrol on a fire is an obvious sign of insanity.
“Why don’t they act? They are wedded to a corrupt political economy, centred in the City of London, that extracts vast profits from communities and nature, and depends on destructive economic growth for its survival. We need to tell the truth, humanity has to change course, we have no choice.”
The action follows a recent “code red” warning by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and a recommendation in May 2021 from the International Energy Agency that all new fossil fuel development must stop now to stay within the 1.5 degree warming threshold.
Extinction Rebellion has been criticised for disrupting traffic and businesses during previous protests.
In September 2020, the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, described the group as “eco-crusaders turned criminals”. A government bill, aimed at giving police greater powers to control protests, is going through parliament.
Extinction Rebellion said today the location of the table had been chosen to counter these claims. It said the height would “capture people passing by without causing chaos”.
Charlie Waterhouse, of Extinction Rebellion, said:
“We are inviting everyone in Britain to come to the table and have the kind of grown-up conversations government, industry and the media are refusing. When those in positions of power are incapable, it is the responsibility of the people to step up. We are in the greatest crisis humanity has ever faced, and Extinction Rebellion are calling crisis talks.
“Only the common sense of citizens and the wisdom of global perspectives will navigate the impossible decisions ahead, and that navigation starts today, on the streets of London. Government, industry and the media want to keep us divided, but we must not fight each other, we must unite in survival solidarity.”
The Metropolitan Police said this evening that eight people had been arrested today (23 August 2021) for a variety of offences.
The force said 10 people had been arrested yesterday (22 August 2021) when activists gathered outside the Guildhall in the City of London. Some activists climbed the outside of the building, lit flares and displayed a banner saying “co-liberation-freedom together”.
Ruth Hayhurst will be reporting for DrillOrDrop from the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow in November