Climate-change protesters vow to disrupt London underground

Climate change activists demonstrate during the Extinction Rebellion protest, at Canary Wharf DLR station in London, Britain April 17, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

(Reuters) – Environmental activists vowed to disrupt London underground train services in a third day of action on Wednesday in a bid to force the British government to take more radical measures to avert what they cast as an imminent global climate cataclysm.

Climate group Extinction Rebellion has ratcheted up its protests in recent weeks, blocking Marble Arch, Oxford Circus and Waterloo Bridge, smashing a door at the Shell building and shocking lawmakers with a semi-nude protest in parliament.

A total of 290 people were arrested on Monday and Tuesday after the activists blocked some of the capital’s most iconic locations, many camping in tents on London’s streets.

The group advocates non-violent civil disobedience to force governments to reduce carbon emissions and avert what it says is a global climate crisis that will bring starvation, floods, wildfires and social collapse.

“XR will non-violently disrupt tube services to highlight the emergency of ecological collapse,” the group said on its website. “As with a labour strike, economic disruption is key in forcing the government to come to the table and negotiate our demands.”

It was unclear how the group would disrupt the London underground network, known as the Tube, which handles up to 5 million passenger journeys a day.

Mayor Sadiq Khan urged protesters to avoid targetting the city’s public transit system.

“It is absolutely crucial to get more people using public transport, as well as walking and cycling, if we are to tackle this climate emergency,” Khan said.


Police said they expected the demonstrations to continue in the next few weeks and promised to take action if necessary.

“We need to ensure we are striking the right balance between allowing the right to a peaceful protest, while ensuring disruption to communities is kept to a minimum,” Chief Superintendent Colin Wingrove said on Tuesday.

The group is demanding the government declare a climate and ecological emergency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025 and create a citizen’s assembly of members of the public to lead on decisions to address climate change.

It says the world is in the midst of a mass extinction and facing an emergency that can shape the fate of humanity. It says conventional approaches have failed because powerful political and economic interests prevent change.

In 2017, total United Kingdom greenhouse gas emissions were 43 percent lower than in 1990 and 2.6 percent lower than 2016, according to government statistics. Scientists say the burning of fossil fuels is causing more floods, droughts, heat waves and rising sea levels.

(Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Michael Holden)

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