Extinction Rebellion says it's acceptable to use ‘alarmist’ language to scare people about climate change

A spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion has said it's okay to use 'alarmist' language because it will drive change (Picture: Steve Taylor/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Extinction Rebellion has defended its use of ‘alarmist’ language, saying when it comes to forcing debate on climate change, ‘it works’.

In an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil, Extinction Rebellion spokesperson Zion Lights defended the organisation’s warning that billions of people would die in a relatively short time period due to global climate change or its founder’s suggestion that children would die in the next 10-20 years.

Quizzed on where the numbers had come from, she said: “We don’t know exact numbers and it’s a little bit concerning to focus just how many deaths - there will be deaths and mass suffering...”

“You’re scaring people with this rhetoric”, Neil told his interviewee, to which she replied: “I think there’s a danger of scaring people simply because we’re not taking it seriously enough and people are feeling really desperate that we’re heard on this and unfortunately alarmist language works which is why we’re discussing it right now.”

Pushed on what Neil described as the organisation’s “apocalyptic predictions” and how much scientific backing they have, Lights said: “We’re not trying to use alarmist language, we’re listening to what scientists are saying and using language that is appropriate to the situation.”

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On Thursday, Extinction Rebellion activists began a three-day "Hong Kong-style" occupation of London City Airport in a protest against the climate impact of flying.

The group said its members planned to "peacefully occupy and shut down" the airport's terminal building from 9am on Thursday by lying, sitting or gluing themselves in front of the departure and arrival gates at the east London airport.

Hundreds of police officers are being drafted in from across England and Wales to help the Metropolitan Police with the protests, which have seen activists camped around Parliament Square and Whitehall since Monday calling for urgent action on climate change and wildlife.

The Metropolitan Police confirmed that 800 people had been arrested since Monday, with another 220 detained on Wednesday.

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