Solving climate change requires drastic action, and the activist group Extinction Rebellion is here for it.
The group has exploded on the climate scene in the past year. This week, it’s leading a coordinated series of actions around the globe that kicked off with them dousing Wall Street in fake blood in New York, blocked roads in Mumbai, and staged various roadway takeovers in London.
Now they’re back at it again on Thursday. The group, which uses civil disobedience to ring the alarm on the climate crisis, shut down the London City Airport Thursday with James Brown, a Paralympian who climbed atop a British Airways plane before takeoff. Another man made it onto an airplane and refused to sit in his seat, delaying the flight for two hours. Meanwhile in New York, protesters dropped a boat in the middle of Times Square, snarling traffic in one of the city’s busiest hubs.
Protesters deflated the tires of the boat trailer and then glued their hands to the hull while other sat-in around them. Police cordoned off Seventh Ave. and 44th St., which run right through the heart of Times Square. Tourists took the opportunity to snap selfies on the suddenly empty streets while others stopped to gawk and ask what was happening. The group told Earther that approximately 62 were arrested as part of the protest. According to a WhatsApp group chat administered by Extinction Rebellion, there have been 1,145 arrests as of Wednesday morning worldwide and the number will clearly rise with Thursday’s actions.
In London, protestors targeted the airport to draw attention to the impact flying has on our planet. Emissions from the industry continue to increase despite the need to reduce carbon emissions across sectors. Aviation makes up more than 2 percent of global carbon emissions. Groups that have followed in Extinction Rebellion’s footsteps but aren’t officially part of it recently targeted Heathrow Airport by staging a protest flying drones designed to shutdown the airspace around it. Airports have proven to be a particularly potent target for activists in general, and Thursday’s protest drew inspiration from recent protests roiling Hong Kong.
“By non-violently shutting down this airport, in homage to the style of the Hong Kong democracy protesters, we are demonstrating the utter frailty of the transport systems that countries such as ours, unwisely, have come to depend upon,” spokesperson Rupert Read told the Guardian.
At the airport, police arrested some 200 people, according to the Independent. That number includes the sight-impaired Brown as well as 92 year old man, both of whom are true Gs. In addition to delaying flights, other protestors sat down in front of one of the airport’s entrances to prevent people from entering. Like protesters in New York, some glued themselves to the floor and to each other.
Extinction Rebellion has said they won’t stop delaying everyone else’s days until the world’s governments take appropriate action on climate change. The group has laid out a series of core demands that include world leaders telling the truth about the dangers of the climate crisis, declaring an international emergency, and instituting peoples’ assemblies to advise governments on how to rapidly drawdown carbon emissions. In the UK, the group has successfully lobbied the government to declare the world’s first climate emergency, something Canada has followed suit on.
Actions are expected to continue today and into tomorrow. And given that government’s have shown little appetite to act so far, they almost certainly won’t be the last actions we’ll see.