Five Christians were among 14 people arrested yesterday (14th Nov) during a protest in at Downing Street, pushing the government to take urgent action to tackle climate change.
Ruth Jarman, 55, Phil Kingston, 82, Fr Martin Newell, 51, Richard Barnard, 45, and Nick Cooper, 36, used spray paint cans to decorate Downing Street with messages calling for an end to climate suffering. The group also made attempts to blockade the entrance to Downing Street, Ruth using adhesive glue to stick herself to railings, before they were tackled to the ground by police.
The action was one of a series that happened across the capital yesterday. A 68-meter banner was dropped over Westminster bridge, sending a clear message to the Houses of Parliament. People of all ages also went to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs where they used spray cans to urge the department to provide the political will needed to address climate change.
Yesterday was the third day of a fortnight of planned actions, in what has been dubbed the Extinction Rebellion. Members of the movement are prepared to risk arrest in order to ensure the world avoids climate breakdown. Currently the government isn’t doing enough to tackle it. Those involved are making the following key demands of the government concerning climate change:
- That the UK declares a state of emergency around climate change;
- That the government takes action to create a zero carbon economy by 2025;
- That we create a national assembly of ordinary people to decide what our zero carbon future will look like.
The main day of action will be on Saturday 17th November and all are invited to join in.
Shortly before being the first of the 14 people to be arrested, Richard Barnard said:
‘I decided to take part on behalf of all the people around the world who are already suffering the effects of climate change. Of course I’d rather not be here today; I would rather be at home. However, I have the privilege of being able to speak out for justice and I will do that for those around the world who don’t have that luxury.’
Fr Martin Newell reflected on why his faith motivated him to attend:
‘We are crucifying God’s earth, creating a climate that will cause disasters that would completely undermine any human progress. As a Christian I have a duty to act when I see injustice and be an outworking of God’s sacrificial love for His people and His creation.’
Phil Kingston, 82, a retired university tutor from Bristol, said:
‘I am motivated to take part because of my grandchildren. When I think of leaving them a broken world it breaks my heart. I can’t just sit at home watching the world fall down around me.’
Nick Cooper, 36, from Northampton, said:
‘The science is in. If we carry on along our current trajectory then we have just 12 years until climate breakdown. Despite knowing this, the UK government refuses to provide the political will needed to tackle climate change – virtually banning onshore wind power, scrapping solar subsidies and promoting fracking to name but a few damaging policies. No other methods of pushing for change have worked and so we have been forced to take up non-violent direct action.’
The Extinction Rebellion has the support of 94 experts and influencers, including Dr Rowan Williams, who have signed a petition stating:
“When a government wilfully abrogates its responsibility to protect its citizens from harm and to secure the future for generations to come, it has failed in its most essential duty of stewardship. The ‘social contract’ has been broken, and it is therefore not only our right, but our moral duty to bypass the government’s inaction and flagrant dereliction of duty, and to rebel to defend life itself.”