Suella Braverman has condemned the “militant, aggressive” approach to environmental activism, singling out Chris Packham’s new documentary, which questions whether such tactics are justified.
The naturalist’s documentary, titled Chris Packham: Is It Time To Break The Law? is to air on Wednesday on Channel 4 and explores the contentious issue of whether environmental activists are right to break the law in their pursuit of climate action.
Asked about the documentary on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, the Home Secretary expressed strong opposition to the tactics employed by certain climate activists and organisations like Just Stop Oil.
She said: “I totally refute what Chris Packham and organisations like Just Stop Oil stand for. They take a militant, aggressive approach to prosecuting their cause. Totally unacceptable.”
Her comments come as Rishi Sunak appears set to water down key green commitments, including the possibility of extending the ban on new petrol and diesel car sales from 2030 to 2035.
Also appearing on ITV’s morning programme, TV presenter Mr Packham accused ministers of “making entirely the wrong decisions”.
He said: “The whole point is that at the moment, 10,000 people have been washed away in Libya. I don’t need to give you the figures… you have watched on your programme, showed people the world is being flooded and is on fire.
“Millions of people’s lives are at risk. And yet, we still have politicians, as of this morning, making entirely the wrong decisions.
“Whilst we have the capacity to protest peacefully, that’s what we should be doing. I continue to protest peacefully. I will use my imagination, my creativity to come up with peaceful, democratic means to protest. But what the documentary says that if we are not listened to, there will be those who will have to have their voice heard and they will make a louder noise.”
Asked what gives him the authority to say to climate activists they can break the law, Mr Packham said: “I have no right, no overview. Nor do I profess to have it. I merely ask the question, is this the right time for us to break the law?
“Now, as you have already pointed out, climate protesters are already breaking the law. We changed the law so rapidly in this country to impact upon protest, you can’t even stand on the street with a T-shirt on without being dragged away. Is that the country that you want to live in? Is that the degrees of freedoms that we want taken away from us?”
New measures to crack down on environmental activists came into force in July, including an expansion of police powers and a new criminal offence of tunnelling.
The British Transport Police and the Ministry of Defence Police now have powers to move static protests, a common tactic of campaigners.