Extinction Rebellion London protests - live: Huge pink table set up for crisis talks as climate campaign opens

·13-min read

A giant pink table inviting Londoners to “come to the table” and discuss climate change has been erected by Extinction Rebellion protesters near Leicester Square.

The four-metre structure will remain at the intersection by Upper St Martins Square and Long Acre “for the long haul”, the group say, and represents how “everyone deserves a seat at the table to have a say in how to tackle the greatest crisis of our times”.

Building the structure, which is kitted out with a stereo and sleeping quarters, is the latest stunt by the activist group, described by one organiser as “the coolest club in London”, as they kick off two full weeks of climate protests across London.

XR say that thousands of people are expected to take part in their “Impossible Rebellion”, which plans to “target the root cause of the climate and ecological crisis”.

Demonstrations are scheduled in central locations including St James’ Park, Piccadilly Circus - similar to those carried out in 2019 - but more are due to take place in both north and south London.

The Metropolitan Police said a “significant” operation would be put in place to manage the protests over the busy bank holiday weekend, but acknowledged the activists’ “important cause”.

The group says disruption will continue until the Government agrees to stop all new fossil fuel investment immediately.

Read More

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Key Points

  • Two weeks of climate demonstrations kick off in capital

  • Eight people arrested over Extinction Rebellion protests in London, police say

  • Extinction Rebellion occupy Norway's oil ministry as part of 10-day protest

  • Huge pink table set up for crisis talks

10:19 , Chiara Giordano

Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage as environmental campaign group Extinction Rebellion kicks of another two weeks of protests in London today.

Two weeks of climate demonstrations kick off in capital today

10:22 , Chiara Giordano

Extinction Rebellion is gearing up for another two full weeks of climate protests across London.

The environmental campaign group says thousands of people are expected to take part in their "Impossible Rebellion", which plans to "target the root cause of the climate and ecological crisis".

Demonstrations are scheduled in central locations including St James' Park, Piccadilly Circus - similar to those carried out in 2019 - but more are due to take place in both north and south London.

Participants are being asked to gather in Trafalgar Square at 10am this morning.

Calm as crowds gather in Trafalgar Square ahead of protests

10:28 , Chiara Giordano and Sam Hancock

My colleague Sam Hancock is reporting from the scene at London’s Trafalgar Square, where protesters have been gathering this morning:

Crowds are currently dispersed and calm as Esther Stanford-Xosei, of XR’s internationalist solidarity network, kicked off the movement’s morning festivities.

A chant was quickly begun of “honour and respect”. XR then said it welcomed all people of all genders and all identities to join its campaign.

“Everyone in this space is now a part of the rebellion,” we have been told, “even those of you in luminous yellow jackets.”

Around 20 police officers could be seen stationed around the London landmark. Meanwhile, news helicopters circle above as we down below engage in a Haitian song.

Photos show crowds of protesters gathered in Trafalgar Square

10:56 , Chiara Giordano

Here’s a selection of photos taken by our reporter Sam Hancock who is covering the start of the protest in Trafalgar Square this morning

Extinction Rebellion protesters gather in Trafalgar Square in London (Sam Hancock/The Independent)
Extinction Rebellion protesters gather in Trafalgar Square in London (Sam Hancock/The Independent)
 (Sam Hancock/The Independent)
(Sam Hancock/The Independent)
 (Sam Hancock/The Independent)
(Sam Hancock/The Independent)

Car horns blare as XR member delivers speech

11:01 , Chiara Giordano

Here’s more from our report Sam Hancock who’s at the scene in Trafalgar Square:

Passing-by cars have begun beeping their horns as XR’s Esther Stanford-Xosei proclaimed into a booming microphone: “When we are united, we cannot be defeated.”As she stood atop the iconic stairs of Trafalgar Square, members of the public with pink banners reading “act now because it’s too late” and “rebel for life” gathered below her.

Turning to fossil fuels, Stanford-Xosei asked everyone present to fight for the end of “global colonialism” in the “same way you are for the end of fossil fuels”.

Ending her speech, she told the crowd: “My brothers, my sisters, my children, I come in peace.”

Protesters block off Trafalgar Square with marching band

11:21 , Chiara Giordano

Extinction Rebellion protesters have blocked Trafalgar Square with a marching band to try and force the government to divest from fossil fuels.

Cockspur Road is blocked with hundreds of protesters in the road next to Nelson's Column as part of the fifth round of major protests that XR have organised.

Heavy police presence as Extinction Rebellion kicks off fifth mass protest

11:44 , Chiara Giordano

Extinction Rebellion kicked off its fifth mass protest in Trafalgar Square today as thousands descended to demand the government divest from fossil fuel companies.

Gail Bradbrook, co-founder of the activist group, opened the "Impossible Rebellion" with a speech expressing solidarity with nations that are disproportionately affected by climate change.

A visible heavy police presence surrounded the protest, which is expected to attempt to disrupt London to garner attention for climate issues in the coming days.

Procession of protesters banging drums heads to ‘surprise location'

12:11 , Chiara Giordano

My colleague Sam Hancock has the following update from the gathering in central London:

Extinction Rebellion’s colorful processions have begun marching around Trafalgar Square, and are heading towards what XR organisers called a “bit of a surprise location”.

Thousands marched, banged drums, blew whistles and danced to disrupt the capital’s roads and demand change from the world’s leaders over the climate crisis.

“Stop the harm,” banners read.

“System change, not climate change,” read others.

Passers-by stopped to take pictures, and accept stickers from XR’s volunteers and members.

Hundreds are currently stopped in roads, which seem to be heading in the direction of Leicester Square, Covent Garden or beyond.

The “impossible rebellion” march continues.

 (Sam Hancock/The Independent)
(Sam Hancock/The Independent)

‘Come to the table’: Giant pink table appears by Leicester Square

12:39 , Joanna Taylor

A giant pink table, sporting the words “come to the table”, has been erected near Leicester Square.

Extinction Rebellion say that the thirteen-foot structure represents that “everyone deserves a seat at the table” in deciding how to tackle climate change.

The table is located at the intersection between Upper St Martins Square and Long Acre.

Giant pink table up for the ‘long haul’, XR say

12:49 , Joanna Taylor

Extinction Rebellion’s giant pink table will occupy an intersection near Leicester Square for the “long haul”, the group say.

The 13-foot structure is “packed” with “built in locks ons, sleeping quarters and its own stereo system” according to XR.

But it isn’t aimed at causing “chaos”, they claim, but to engage people with the movement and invite everyone to the table to discuss solutions for climate change.

 (Sam Hancock)
(Sam Hancock)

XR protesters gather under newly-erected pink table

12:53 , Joanna Taylor

Independent reporter Sam Hancock who’s on the scene has this update:

The rebellion has gathered beneath a newly-erected 4 meter high pink table at the intersection between St Martin’s Lane and Great Newport Street.

“Come to the table” it reads, in a clear signal to XR’s demands for a collaborative Citizens’ Assembly to deal with the climate emergency.

Songs and chants have begun, including a catchy one sung by a pink-haired student who wished to remain nameless.

“What do we want?” she asked the crowd. “Climate justice,” we retorted. “When do we want it?” she continued. “Now,” the crowd shouted sternly.

The Independent has witnessed no arrests so far but there is now a significant police presence in central London - comprised of Met and City of London officers.

One woman was spotted blowing the air out of the tires of a van parked in the middle of Garrick Street (it had transported the giant table here).

Before police arrived, she had left, and a group of rebellions set up camp underneath the van to ensure it couldn’t be moved.

Officers have also formed a barrier at all entrance points to the intersection and are asking people to turn around.

Road closed by giant pink table

13:17 , Joanna Taylor

The road on which a giant pink table has been erected by Extinction Rebellion protesters has been closed.

Hundreds of people have gathered around the table at the intersection by Upper St Martins Square and Long Acre near Leicester Square.

Protesters have set up chairs to block the road andb closures have been put in place. Police have also deployed officers to the scene.

11-year-old girl rouses crowd with speech aimed at govt

13:26 , Joanna Taylor

The latest from Independent reporter Sam Hancock, who’s on the scene:

An 11-year-old girl called Ren, who is a member of XR, just gave a powerful speech about the movement and the damage human kind are doing to the Earth.

“The animals and plants had this planet before we did, she told hundreds of people gathered near St Martin’s Lane. “And we came and destroyed it.”

Calling on the government to step up, Ren told the crowd: “Until the government admits to its mistakes and stands with the people, nothing will happen.”

She finished by saying: “We did this so we need to fix it.”

Unsurprisingly, she received a rapturous applause.

Meanwhile, XR are warning anyone within the police barrier to stay put as officers will not let you back in.

“It’s kind of like a club - the coolest club in London right now,” one organiser said.

Extinction Rebellion’s controversial methods are ‘necessary behaviour’, says first-time climate protester

13:42 , Chiara Giordano

A first-time climate protester has said Extinction Rebellion's controversial methods are "necessary behaviour".

Maddy Hayley Thomas, 33, told PA: "What is extreme is the fact that the government, huge corporations, all of our system is allowing the devastation to our planet, to the global south."

Ms Thomas said she had been spurred to join her first XR protest by the recent IPCC report which UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described as "Code Red for humanity".

‘My legs are shaking because I’m so angry’, says teenage protester

14:08 , Chiara Giordano

Members of the public, and members of XR, are taking it in turn to give speeches below the giant pink table, my colleague Sam Hancock reports from the scene of the protest in central London.

“My legs are shaking because I’m so angry,” one teenager called Robin told us. “But I’m happy to be angry here with you.”

Songs about the world have been joined in by all, while a drum performance has kicked off again at the end of Garrick Street.Police continue to refuse entry or re-entry to what XR is calling “the coolest club in London”.

The rebellion continues as hundreds look ready to set up camp for the long haul - or at least the next 12 days.

 (Sam Hancock/The Independent)
(Sam Hancock/The Independent)
 (Sam Hancock/The Independent)
(Sam Hancock/The Independent)

Sign up for free weekly updates on the environmental emergency

14:31 , Chiara Giordano

To stay up to date with the latest global climate news, sign up to our free weekly newsletter by visiting the link below:

Sign up to The Independent Climate Newsletter for free weekly updates on the environmental emergency

‘We ruined the world, so we have to fix it,’ says 11-year-old

15:12 , Chiara Giordano

An 11-year-old child has addressed the crowds of climate protesters in central London today, saying: “We ruined the world, so we have to fix it.”

Extinction Rebellion occupy Norway's oil ministry as part of 10-day protest

15:25 , Chiara Giordano

Over in Norway, some 150 Extinction Rebellion activists have blocked access to the energy ministry in Oslo as part of an ongoing 10-day campaign to protest against the Nordic country's oil industry.

Norway is Western Europe's largest producer of crude and natural gas, pumping some four million barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Around 17 campaigners, some with "Ban oil" written on their palms, occupied the reception area of the ministry in central Oslo, while dozens of others demonstrated outside.

"For decades we have written letters, we have spoken out, we have demonstrated. You let us speak but you are not listening," Hanna Kristina Jakobsen, 22, told the crowd via megaphone. "This is why we do peaceful civil disobedience now. We are desperate."

In a separate location, 29 protestors were arrested when they blocked a major road in the city and refused to comply with police orders to move, Oslo police said on Twitter.

Extinction Rebellion is also planning protests elsewhere in Europe, with two weeks of demonstrations starting today in London.

16:20 , Conrad Duncan

You can find some images below from the scene in London earlier today:

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
 (EPA)
(EPA)
 (EPA)
(EPA)

Smoke from Caldor Fire turns California sky orange

16:35 , Conrad Duncan

Smoke from the Caldor Fire in California has turned the skies above South Lake Tahoe bright orange as blazes continue to spread across northern parts of the state.

The raging wildfires have destroyed at least 700 homes in California this summer and over 13,000 residencies remain under threat in communities close to where the Caldor Fire is burning.

You can find video footage from the state below:

Watch: Smoke from Caldor Fire turns California sky bright orange

Turbines use wind from passing traffic to generate power

16:55 , Conrad Duncan

Wind turbines that generate electricity using the air turbulence generated by traffic have been installed in Turkey as part of efforts to cut carbon emissions by using more renewable energy.

The technology has been developed by the Istanbul Technical University and the firm Devecitech, with vertical turbines being placed on roadsides around Turkey’s largest city of Istanbul.

Our reporter, Samuel Webb, has the full story below:

Turbines use wind from passing traffic to generate power

First-time climate protester says extreme measures are ‘necessary’

17:23 , Conrad Duncan

A first-time climate protester at the Extinction Rebellion demonstration in London today has insisted that the group’s controversial methods are “necessary behaviour”.

“What is extreme is the fact that the government, huge corporations, all of our system is allowing the devastation to our planet, to the global south,” 33-year-old Maddy Hayley Thomas told the PA news agency on Monday.

Protesters blocked roads in central London this afternoon, including around Trafalgar Square, as they demanded action from the government to immediately end investment in fossil fuels that are driving climate change.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Thousands of social housing tenants to be offered funding for greener homes

17:49 , Conrad Duncan

Tens of thousands of people living in social housing will see their homes made warmer, greener and cheaper to heat with new funding, according to the UK government.

Local authorities and housing associations in England will be able to bid for a share of £160m to install insulation, energy efficient doors and windows and low-carbon heating systems such as heat pumps in socially rented homes.

The funding will help up to 38,000 homes with energy performance certificates of D or below with upgrades that will save tenants £170 a year on energy bills on average, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis) said.

However, it will not fund the replacement or repairs of gas boilers, which will have to be replaced in the coming years with heating alternatives that do not cause carbon emissions.

Homes account for around 15 per cent of the UK's carbon emissions, meaning that tackling such pollution is a key part of the country's efforts to curb climate change.

18:09 , Conrad Duncan

You can find more pictures below from the demonstration in London this afternoon:

 (PA)
(PA)
 (PA)
(PA)
 (PA)
(PA)

Eight people arrested over Extinction Rebellion protests in London, police say

18:39 , Conrad Duncan

Eight people have been arrested in connection with protests by Extinction Rebellion in London today, as of 6pm, the Metropolitan Police has said.

The force did not specify details on the arrests but said they had been made “for a variety of offences”.

It added that 10 arrests had been made over demonstrations on Sunday.

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19:01 , Conrad Duncan

You can find some comments below from one of the Extinction Rebellion activists who spoke to Sky News at the protest in London earlier this afternoon:

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19:07 , Conrad Duncan

That’s all from our live coverage of today’s Extinction Rebellion protests - we’ll be back with more updates soon.

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