Extinction Rebellion London protests: Demonstrators block Oxford Circus as pink table re-erected

·19-min read

Extinction Rebellion protesters have descended on Oxford Circus, where they blocked traffic with a giant pink table, danced peacefully and heard speeches, as climate demonstrations in London continue.

Earlier, the environmental movement gathered outside the Brazilian embassy to protest deforestation and attacks on indigenous people on the third day of its Impossible Rebellion protests in the capital, due to last for two weeks.

XR is aiming to disrupt “business as usual” in London with its latest set of demonstrations as the climate crisis unfolds.

More than 100 people have been arrested since Sunday, the day before the start of the official action.

Read More

Extinction Rebellion: Who are the climate activist group bringing cities to a standstill and what are their aims?

As Extinction Rebellion targets the world’s biggest polluters, does it matter how ‘green’ individual activists are?

Extinction Rebellion make camp in Soho for day two of London protests

Key Points

  • Protesters to gather outside Brazilian embassy

  • Forty women block Oxford Circus to urge climate action

  • Police warn of central London disruption

09:26 , Zoe Tidman

Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of Extinction Rebellion action in London.

Protests to go ahead in London

09:40 , Zoe Tidman

Protests are due to start shortly in London.

One is planned at Brazilian embassy between 10am and 11.30am, with XR calling it Global Day of Action for Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon Rainforest.

The other protest - Courage Calls To Courage: Women and FINT Action - is due to start at 11.30am at Piccadilly Circus.

What is Extinction Rebellion?

09:59 , Zoe Tidman

The Impossible Rebellion is Extinction Rebellion’s first major action since its Autumn Rebellion in September last year.

Actions are planned across the next fortnight at St James Park, London Bridge, Piccadilly Circus, the Bank of England, outside the Brazilian Embassy and at other locations around the city.

But what actually is Extinction Rebellion and where did it come from?

Joanna Taylor takes a closer look:

Who are Extinction Rebellion and what are their aims?

Protesters to gather outside Brazilian embassy

10:05 , Zoe Tidman

Extinction Rebellion are set to gather outside the Brazilian embassy to protest the environmental destruction of the Amazon Rainforest and Brazil’s treatment of its indigenous people.

Protestors will gather from 10am to 11.30am outside the embassy in Cockspur Street in central London.

Extinction Rebellion protestors head to Brazil Embassy

What happened yesterday?

10:23 , Zoe Tidman

Today is the third official day of Extinction Rebellion’s latest round of protests.

On Tuesday, 40 more environmentalists were arrested as demonstrations continued in central London.

Activists were seen on the top of a van in Soho and staged a “die-in” demonstration in Westminster.

Catch-up on what happened yesterday with Holly Bancroft’s report:

40 arrested as Extinction Rebellion occupy parts of London’s West End

Brazil embassy protest

10:44 , Zoe Tidman

Activists have gathered outside Brazil’s embassy in London for a protest in support of Indigenous people in the Amazon.

See pictures here:

Activists from Greenpeace and other organisations joined XR protesters outside the embassy (AFP via Getty Images)
Activists from Greenpeace and other organisations joined XR protesters outside the embassy (AFP via Getty Images)
A demonstrator during a protest calling for an end to 'the genocidal attacks being waged against Brazil's indigenous peoples' at the Brazilian Embassy (PA)
A demonstrator during a protest calling for an end to 'the genocidal attacks being waged against Brazil's indigenous peoples' at the Brazilian Embassy (PA)
Demonstrators during a protest calling for an end to ‘the genocidal attacks being waged against Brazil’s indigenous peoples’ at the Brazilian Embassy (PA)
Demonstrators during a protest calling for an end to ‘the genocidal attacks being waged against Brazil’s indigenous peoples’ at the Brazilian Embassy (PA)

Does it matter how ‘green’ activists are?

11:17 , Zoe Tidman

A favourite line of attack against the environmental movement is charging members with hypocrisy.

Right-wing blog Guido Fawkes is among the outlets highlighting that one of Extinction Rebellion’s co-founders, Dr Gail Bradbrook, drives a diesel vehicle.

But does it matter exactly how ‘green’ individual activists are?

Harry Cockburn takes a look at the question:

Does it really matter how ‘green’ XR activists are?

Tory MP hits out at XR

11:29 , Zoe Tidman

A Tory MP has accused Extinction Rebellion of “putting people off” the cause of tackling the climate crisis with their actions.

Watch her comments here:

XR activists block oil refinery in the Netherlands

11:53 , Tim Wyatt

According to reports from The Netherlands, Extinction Rebellion campaigners briefly blocked roads leading to a Shell oil refinery near Rotterdam this morning.

Police arrested 12 activists after they closed roads leading to the Pernis facility, one of the largest refineries in Europe, preventing lorries from entering the site.

The Dutch branch of XR said their action was to demand the fossil fuel giant cut its emissions faster and warned they had other demonstrations planned throughout the week.

XR demonstrators praise ‘lighter touch’ policing at latest protests

11:58 , Tim Wyatt

The Independent’s Daniel Keane is reporting from the protest outside the Brazilian embassy.

One demonstrator, Rowena Fields, 66, was flying an XR flag and told him she had travelled down from York this morning to help highlight the “awful suffering” experienced by indigenous tribes in Brazil.

She said: “I’m here because I want to support indigenous people and highlight the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. This is my fourth XR protest. I think there’s a lighter touch here now compared to before, and it almost feels now the police are more sympathetic to our cause.”

“Some of the conversations I’ve had with them - it appears as if they feel like ‘this protest makes a lot of sense’. You can’t look at the IPCC report and not think: something urgent needs to happen.

“Our tactics are also different. They are more fluid and more dispersed.”

More images from today’s protests in central London

12:17 , Tim Wyatt

XR campaigners are still filling the streets of central London, waving banners, banging drums and making speeches as the third day of action by the group continues.

See some of the latest pictures below:

 (The Independent)
(The Independent)
 (PA)
(PA)
 (The Independent)
(The Independent)

Protesters move on to Department for International Trade

12:27 , Tim Wyatt

XR protesters have now moved on to the Department for International Trade, where they have presented officials with a “Charred Earth” award.

The activists have condemned the government for pursuing future trade with Brazil, who they argue is responsible for massive deforestation of the Amazon rainforest and human rights abuses against indigenous people living there.

Trade officials given ‘Charred Earth Award'

12:47 , Jane Dalton

Activists handed a “Charred Earth Award” to the Department for International Trade, during a solemn red-carpet ceremony, with the sound of cattle playing.

“The government must put environmental protection, particularly of the Amazon, front & centre of any trade talks with Brazil,” XR said.

“By treating Brazil as a friendly future trading partner the DIT is condoning deforestation, human rights abuses against Indigenous people & a climate catastrophe. It will have horrific consequences for everyone across the planet.”

Farmer at Brazilian embassy protest calls for cut in soya demand

12:55 , Jane Dalton

Protesters played samba music outside the Brazilian embassy and carried placards reading ‘Down with Bolsonaro’ and ‘We Stand with Brazilian Indigenous People’.

Alan Measures, 71, said he had travelled to London from Peterborough for his second XR protest.

He told The Independent: “I spent the last 30 or so years as a farmer and I’ve been looking at the issue of the Amazon rainforest and soy production for years. It is aligned with the issues faced by indigenous people.

“We in this country couldn’t use pulses or beans to substitute for the soya meals that we get and demand hasn’t gone down. I’ve lobbied the National Farmers Union and I’ve met my MP to ask questions about this.

“I would like to see something that reduces the demand in the UK for soya products.”

He said the atmosphere surrounding the protests had changed since last year and the public appeared less hostile.

He continued: “I walked here from the South Bank yesterday flying my flag. I was worried I’d have to take it down and pack it away - but it was quite reassuring how many people stopped to greet me and talk to me.

“It is very positive - a few years ago it wouldn’t have been.

“Its so mixed today. You get people from all ages and all backgrounds.”

He added: “The problem with our government is one of attitude. Our political cycle is short, politicians focus on winning elections.

“I can’t see Boris Johnson changing his attitude... we need him to be replaced.

“We need a cross-party agreement on climate change - that is all that can move us forward.”

Hunger striker: ‘The planet is f***** up more badly than we imagine'

13:03 , Jane Dalton

A large crowd has assembled in Piccadilly Circus and speeches have begun, reports Daniel Keane.

Martha Krumpeck, a member of extinction rebellion in Austria, told the crowd of her 30-day hunger strike in Austria in opposition to the government’s plans to build new motorways.

“I decided to go on hunger strike in Vienna to protest against climate inaction by the Austrian government... I lasted for 30 days - then the minister finally conceded and launched an evaluation on the plans to build new motorways,” she said.

“If they say they can still construct this s***, I will go on hunger strike again.

“If we don’t fight, we will be the last generation. If they want to kill us all, we can all least offer some resistance.

“Our governments are refusing to give up the old system. They are continuing to use fossil fuels.

“The planet is f***** up more badly than any of us can imagine. It is time for us to put ourselves in harm’s way.”

 (Daniel Keane)
(Daniel Keane)

Young climate activists urge UK and UN to act on murders of environmental defenders

13:18 , Jane Dalton

Young climate activists from across the world are calling on leaders to urgently act on the killing and harassment of environmental defenders.

A record 212 environmental activists were murdered in 2019 – with preliminary analysis suggesting the situation has worsened since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Exclusive by our climate correspondent Daisy Dunne:

Young climate activists urge leaders to act on environmental defender murders

Chinese activist ‘terrified'

13:28 , Jane Dalton

A young woman from China told crowds gathered at Piccadilly Circus that she was terrified for the future and had taken risks in standing up for climate action.

XR no longer aiming for mass arrests, protester claims

14:25 , Tim Wyatt

XR’s tactics have shifted with their latest bout of civil disobedience, with the group no longer hoping for as many activists to be arrested as possible.

Jamie, a 22-year-old marketing intern who did not wish to give his surname, told Daniel Keane at the central London demonstration he felt the group’s approach had changed compared to last year’s protests. He has spent the day handing out leaflets to passers-by at Piccadilly Circus.

He told The Independent: “I joined XR two years ago as I realised we need to act now on climate change. I realised I’ve lived a comfortable life but this directly impacts my future survival - but it’s also killing lots of people right now.

“They’re used to be this attitude that civil disobedience - like locking yourself to the street - meant going and getting as many people arrested as possible.“

I think that more and more people in the movement feel that that’s on its way out. The police have become a lot smarter about that anyway and it also can exclude people.

“We’re still a direct action movement but we’re moving towards something a bit more motivational. I’m not against the idea of blocking roads as long as they’re government buildings or in the city of London. Occupying a space has always been part of protest in British history but it’s better when you have specific targets.”

He added: “The government, fossil fuel corporations and the media are still slightly unaware that the public is more radical than they think on the climate crisis.

“When you talk to people on the street people still feel worried about the climate. Most of our direct actions - even controversial ones - get people’s attention and shifts the agenda even if some of us get shouted at in the street.”

Demonstration has now begun to move up Regent Street

14:41 , Tim Wyatt

The XR protest which has been in Piccadilly Circus has now started heading back up Regent Street.

 (The Independent)
(The Independent)

Forty women block Oxford Circus to urge climate action

14:47 , Tim Wyatt

Earlier, more than 40 women closed the busy road junction at Oxford Circus in central London to invite women to “come to the table” to discuss how to turn around the climate crisis.

Mirroring a similar protest earlier this week, the XR demonstrators built an oversized pink table in the middle of the road, with two empty chairs facing each other.

XR said the demonstration represented “an invitation to all those who identify as female, nonbinary or trans: the crisis is here – come and take your seat at the table and demand the urgent action needed to tackle the climate and ecological emergency”.

Activists then locked and glued themselves to the structure and to block traffic. When police officers manning the protest managed to clear the road, the phrase “Courage calls to courage everywhere” had been daubed onto the tarmac.

 (Extinction Rebellion)
(Extinction Rebellion)

The phrase is a quotation from the suffragette Millicent Fawcett and is part of her own statue in Parliament Square.

Hester, a 41-year-old mother of three who took part in the protests and did not give her surname, said: “If we are to turn around this suicidal system, women all over the world must take their seat at the table.

“We are just one part of a movement for change, and we invite all women and those who identify as nonbinary, intersex or transgender to join us as we step into our collective power.”

More images of Oxford Circus blockage

15:09 , Tim Wyatt

Daniel Keane, reporting from the scene of the Oxford Circus protest, has sent back these pictures of the activists closing the road with their giant pink table.

 (The Independent)
(The Independent)
 (The Independent)
(The Independent)
 (The Independent)
(The Independent)

Protester: ‘I came here because I’ve given up all hope’

15:28 , Tim Wyatt

Paul Sheehy, 46, was one of four demonstrators holding a banner reading ‘Act Now’ outside the entrance to the Microsoft store at Oxford Circus.

He told The Independent he had travelled from Warrington to attend today’s protest and was “willing to go to prison” to stop climate change.

Paul, a call centre operator who has been part of XR for two years, said: “I came here because I’ve given up all hope. Lots of people think that it’s pointless to even protest now, there’s so much political apathy in the world.

“But once you run out of hope you have to try and change things. In this case it means reduce fossil fuel use rapidly - which they say is impossible but we are here to make the impossible inevitable.

“The pandemic has been so difficult for us. This is to kick start the movement again. When we’re talking to people in the public, a lot of them say thank you. But we need more people involved to make it work. We need that active engagement.

“I’m prepared to go to prison for this and I know many others are as well.”

He added: “The police have changed their tactics - they are being more harsh with us. But I imagine they’re under pressure from Priti Patel who famously doesn’t like us.

“We have no beef with the police though, we know they are just doing their jobs. They have the same concerns that we have.”

He continued: “There is only a slight change in our tactics. This week is about outreach. We want to jar people out of their ordinary lives. We want to show that breaking the law is proportionate to the level of crisis we’re facing.”

IPCC report prompted surge in XR backing, group claims

15:38 , Tim Wyatt

The UN’s stark report warning that climate change was already causing catastrophe around the world led to a surge of donations and support for Extinction Rebellion, one of its founders has said.

Liam Geary Baulch, who helped launch the organisation in 2018, said they saw a jump in donations after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change document was published earlier this month.

The report explained how human activity had already pushed up global temperatures by 1.1C and was driving weather and climate extremes in every region across the world.

Mr Baulch said: “Last week £100,000 was raised in crowdfunding in just 24 hours ahead of the two weeks of protests in London.

“With the IPCC report just coming out, a lot of people have been reignited with the urgency of taking action on the climate and ecological emergency and are aware that, now it’s more safe for everyone to come to London [due to coronavirus restrictions being eased].”

He added: “We are again running groups all over the country and people are being encouraged to come down to London... When they’re here they are all involved with different kinds of protests, all with the aim of like really inviting people to get in and come and talk with us.”

Police intervene to stop protesters ‘building a structure’ at Oxford Circus

16:02 , Tom Batchelor

The Metropolitan Police has released a statement on the ongoing protests in the central London.

The force said on Twitter: “Officers have intervened when protestors were building a structure at Oxford Circus. Some individuals have glued themselves to the structure, specialist officers are working to support their removal.

“There will be some disruption to traffic in the area as roads are currently blocked, which we are working to reduce.”

Europe experienced hottest year on record in 2020, climate report shows

16:19 , Tom Batchelor

Last year was Europe’s warmest on record by a large margin, the latest in an annual series of global climate reports shows.

The average temperature in Europe in 2020 was 1.9C above the long-term average for 1981-2010, the 31st state of the climate report published online by the American Meteorological Society shows.

Parts of the continent including Luxembourg, Sweden, Finland and European Russia saw temperatures 2C or more above the average for recent decades.

Although parts of north-west Europe were relatively cooler, the UK still saw its third hottest year on record in 2020, after 2014 and 2006, with temperatures 0.78C above the 1981-2010 baseline.

The report shows the average surface temperature over land areas in the Arctic was the highest since the data record began in 1900.

Last year was also the seventh successive year annual temperatures in the Arctic were more than 1C above the average for the period 1981-2010.

UK Government boosts biomass with £4 million funding

16:37 , Tom Batchelor

Biomass projects throughout the UK were today awarded £4m government funding to boost biomass production.

A total of 24 projects in the field of biomass, a renewable energy source generated from burning wood, plants and other organic matter, will receive up to £200,000

Here is the story:

UK Government boosts biomass with £4 million funding

Greek wildfires proof world needs radical response to crisis, says PM

16:55 , Tom Batchelor

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said wildfires that ripped through the outskirts of Athens and other parts of Greece this month underlined the need for radical shifts in behaviour to tackle global warming.

Everything needed to change in order to minimise the effects of the climate crisis, he told parliament on Wednesday during a debate on the wildfires and criticism of the government’s response to them.

Dealing with the crisis “is forcing us to change everything; the way we produce agricultural products, how we move around, how we generate energy and the way we build our homes,” he said.

Part of a succession of blazes that struck southern Europe during a summer heatwave, the Greek fires scorched more than a quarter million acres of pine forest, with the island of Evia and areas of the Peloponnese, including near the archaeological site of the ancient Olympics, also hit.

Mr Mitsotakis told MPs an earlier public apology for the disaster was also a call for action to become better at tackling such phenomena.

“We were called to put out 1,279 wildfires ... the majority were tackled in the beginning but some got away. Preparedness was not adequate,” he said.

Police carry dozens of XR protesters away from London demonstration

17:15 , Tom Batchelor

Police have taken away Extinction Rebellion protesters at a demonstration in central London.

A large group of campaigners have blocked off the surrounding roads near Oxford Circus with a pink sculpture - putting traffic at a standstill.

Protesters have formed a human chain around the area and are being cordoned off by police officers.

Dozens of them have been carried away to nearby police vans by officers, with other members of the group cheering and clapping.

Pedestrians are being urged to find another way around the area.

Demonstrators told to leave Oxford Circus

17:31 , Tom Batchelor

Police have warned Extinction Rebellion protesters to leave an area they are blocking in central London or face being arrested.

Using a loudspeaker, a police officer said: “You must this area immediately or you may be arrested”.

Officers have continued to detain campaigners from the area close to Oxford Circus on Wednesday afternoon.

Met Police lead protesters away

17:53 , Tom Batchelor

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

Cambo oilfield work postponed until next year after activists stage protest

18:22 , Tom Batchelor

Preparation work for the controversial Cambo oil field project has been postponed after protests from activists.

Greenpeace campaigners on Monday used kayaks to confront a ship in Norway preparing construction equipment for the fossil fuel production project.

A safety notice published earlier this month indicated that the ship was to bring the kit to the oil field site on 25 August – despite the project not yet receiving a development permit from the UK government.

Here is the story:

Cambo oilfield work postponed until next year after activists stage protest

Officers arrest nearly 200 protesters

18:41 , Tom Batchelor

XR demo sets up camp on Blackheath

18:50 , Tom Batchelor

Protests have spread from central London to Blackheath, a suburb in the southeast of the capital where tents and banners are now erected on the large expanse of grassland.

‘The planet is f****d up,’ say protesters blocking Oxford Circus

19:00 , Tom Batchelor

Protesters targeted the Brazilian Embassy, Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus on Wednesday as they continued their two-week ‘Impossible Rebellion’ campaign.

Demonstrators descended on central London and erected a 2.5m-tall pink table with a banner reading ‘Come To The Table’, while other protesters danced peacefully and heard speeches led by women.

Here is the full account of the day’s demonstration:

Extinction Rebellion protesters block Oxford Circus: ‘The planet is f****d up’ ‘

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