Michael Gove’s office painted black by protestors

 (Extinction Rebellion)
(Extinction Rebellion)

Climate activists have poured black paint over the office of Michael Gove in opposition to his controversial decision to green-light a new coal mine in Cumbria.

Demonstrators from Extinction Rebellion arrived outside the Department of Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (DLUHC) just before midday on Wednesday, before pouring the ink-black paint down the sloped walls towards its front doors.

Two people are currently in front of the entrance attached to each other through a lock-on tube, emblazoned with the words “END COAL”.

A second pair have glued themselves to the pavement outside the Marsham Street department.

The troupe of activists donned yellow, hooded capes and facemasks while brandishing XR flags. One protestor wore a skeleton costume, a mask of Mr Gove’s face, and waved a mock pickaxe in the air.

XR activists take action outside the Department of Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (Extinction Rebellion)
XR activists take action outside the Department of Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (Extinction Rebellion)

The cabinet minister stoked anger among environmental protestors last month after he approved the contentious new coal mine in Whitehaven.

He granted planning permission for what would be the first new site in the UK in 30 years after years of delay from the government.

The DLUHC said the coal will be used for the production of steel and not for power generation.

Sarah Hart, a mother of two from Farnborough said: “2022 saw record global greenhouse gas emissions, and record global temperatures. Where is the government’s ambition to act on this Climate and Ecological Emergency?

“How dare they even think of opening a coal mine now? Gove claims this mine is carbon neutral but he completely ignores the emissions from burning the coal. We demand an end to all new fossil fuel projects.”

XR has criticised the government for not considering scope 3 emissions in its plans for the mine.

Scopes, originating from the Green House Gas Protocol of 2001, are used to categorise different kinds of carbon emissions. Scope 3 emissions are those an organisation is indirectly responsible for, such as burning coal.

The action group expressed outrage that only emissions for physically taking the coal out of the ground are considered, which it says can be claimed to be a lower category of emissions.

XR suggests that if the DLUHC took into account the scope 3 emissions, then the Whitehaven project would fall outside the government’s net zero strategy.

Police stand by as XR activists storm the streets outside Mr Gove’s office (Extinction Rebellion)
Police stand by as XR activists storm the streets outside Mr Gove’s office (Extinction Rebellion)

Marijn Van Der Greer of Extinction Rebellion UK, said: “Extinction Rebellion wants a citizen-led transition away from fossil fuels via a Citizens’ Assembly on Climate and Ecological Justice. Providing unstable jobs in the coal sector during a climate crisis in a region where there are limited economic opportunities is not justice.

“Opening a coal mine in a region that is already disproportionately affected by the climate crisis with floods increasing and unprecedented rainfall is complete madness.”

Dorothea Hackman, a 70-year-old grandmother from Camden, added: “Opening a coal mine today means the UK can’t argue that China and India should decrease their own coal emissions. Whitehaven coal isn’t even wanted by British steelworks, it’s going to be exported, there is no argument for domestic production.”

Wednesday’s action is part of a series of ‘Cut the Ties’ protests, which first launched in November 2022 .

The campaign targets a network of organisations propping up the fossil fuel economy.

Extinction Rebellion is inviting everyone to Westminster from 21 April 2023 to demand a fair society and a citizen-led end to the fossil fuel era. ​Find out more about The Big One.