Extinction Rebellion plans to bring roads around Westminster to a standstill with tens of thousands of protesters, and stage a sit-in at City Airport in London as part of environmental demonstrations in the next fortnight.
It will be part of an “international rebellion” calling for urgent action on climate change and the dying-out of endangered species.
On Thursday eight people, aged between 34 and 83, were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage after Extinction Rebellion activists used a fire engine to spray the Treasury in central London with fake blood, in a protest against funding for fossil fuels.
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At a briefing for the media on the forthcoming protest, activists said they planned to shut the streets leading to Westminster, targeting sites including Lambeth and Westminster Bridges and Trafalgar Square, each held by people from different parts of the country.
The offices of government departments will also face direct action from protesters seeking to know their plans to combat climate change. Other actions include processions, marches and a sit-in at City Airport where demonstrators will attempt to occupy the space for three days.
It comes after police chiefs asked for more restrictive powers to counter mass protests, claiming the current law is out of date. “It’s very dangerous if you start excluding certain types of protest from obeying the law,” said Nick Ephgrave of the Metropolitan Police this week.
The protesters said they had not yet decided if they would hold a silent vigil to mark a lack of action in the Queen’s Speech on 14 October or to try to prevent the state opening of parliament instead.
Extinction Rebellion spokesman Joel Scott-Halkes said: “We’re going to blockade and shut down every single road going into the central area of Westminster around the UK government. We are going to very loudly, very clearly, very respectfully say that if a government is taking its people towards extinction, it is not a government anymore that we respect.”
Another spokesman, 21-year-old Robin Boardman, said the upcoming round of protests could be five times bigger than that which brought major disruption to London in April and saw more than 1,100 arrests. As many as 30,000 people could be involved this time, he claimed.
Major events are also planned around the world in Australia, in Europe – in Berlin, Madrid, Amsterdam – and in the US in New York and Washington DC. The global action follows similar worldwide demonstrations by children “on strike” from school on Fridays, including Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.
Extinction Rebellion is calling on the government declare a climate and ecological emergency, act immediately to halt wildlife loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025. They also want a citizens’ assembly on climate and ecological justice to lead government policy.
Earlier in the year, Parliament declared a climate and environment emergency and the government has passed a law to cut emissions to net zero by 2050.
Mr Boardman said: “Right now we’re looking at a disastrous situation which demands so much radical action. It doesn’t demand the piecemeal action we’re currently seeing across the world.”
Additional reporting by Press Association