Tooting and Balham residents block Central London streets in climate crisis protest

  Posted: 03.05.21 at 08:43 by Caroline Hartnell

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On Sloane Square at 11am Saturday, 72-year-old artist Fio Adamson from Furzedown stopped traffic for 20 minutes by peacefully sitting in the road wearing a sign that read: “I’m terrified for millions of people who have to flee their homes because of the climate crisis.”

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As she sat in the way of oncoming traffic, Fio risked her life in order to speak out about Government inaction on climate two years on from Parliament’s declaration of a climate emergency.

Fio was one of four Wandsworth residents, all members of Extinction Rebellion Wandsworth, who took part in this “Rebellion of One”.

Around the country, hundreds of people blocked roads to say they will no longer stand by while the UK Government lies to the public about its tepid plans to tackle the climate emergency.

“I’m sitting because my taxes fund accelerating desecration so profound (we’ve lost more than two-thirds of the planet’s wildlife during my lifetime) that my deepest desire - to have a family - has become inconceivable,” says 48-year-old filmmaker Nathaniel Walters from Balham, who sat at the junction of Old Bond Street and Piccadilly for 45 minutes.

Nathaniel, 48-year-old filmmaker from Balham, sitting at the end of Old Bond Street

His sign read: “I'm terrified we're losing all I hold sacred because of the climate crisis.”

Two others from Wandsworth took part. There was 57-year-old health worker Bernard Kelly, sitting at Oxford Circus, whose sign bore the stark message:

“I am terrified for our children and grandchildren because of the climate crisis.”

“The crowd was overwhelming supportive of the action,” says Bernard, who was in the road for 30 minutes, “thanking me and telling me to keep doing this, and this included the truck driver I ended up in front of. A mother and daughter were overheard discussing whether to join me in the road.”

Finally, there was 66-year-old retired postman/West End doorman/rave organiser Peter Harrison from Battersea, sitting at the Coalbrookdale Gates of Kensington Gardens, whose sign read: “I am terrified about what happens to us disabled, elderly, vulnerable pensioners when society collapses because of climate change.”

Bernard, 57-year-old Southfields health worker, stopping traffic at Oxford Circus

He took action “in solidarity with all solo protestors who brought about radical change, from Luther to Gandhi to Thunberg” he says. “A small lever can move mountains.”

Two years ago today the UK Parliament declared a climate and ecological emergency. And yet in February this year chief executive of the Environment Agency Sir James Bevan said that the UK is hitting worst-case environmental scenarios that if left unchecked would collapse ecosystems, slash crop yields, take out the infrastructure that our civilisation depends on, and destroy the basis of the modern economy and modern society.

Fio Adamson says: “Ahmed is 19 years old, the apple of his mother’s eye and her eldest son. The village stream has dried up and food is scarce, so his young brothers and sisters are constantly hungry and thirsty. Everyone is heartbroken but he has to leave so one member of the family has a chance of survival.

“After a few weeks they never hear from him again. He may have lost his phone, died in a lorry or drowned in the English Channel. They will never know.

“I’m sitting here for that family and for millions of others suffering losses, drought, fires and floods.”

Peter, 66-year-old retired postman, talking to police in Kensington Gardens

While the Prime Minister claims the government is committed to ‘building back greener’ from the pandemic, a report by Positive Money found that by June last year 56% of Covid funding distributed by the Bank of England went to carbon-intensive industries, including airlines, car manufacturers and oil and gas companies.

The Committee on Climate Change - the body tasked with monitoring government progress on reducing admissions - said in its progress report last June that the UK has failed on 17 out of 21 progress indicators, falling further behind in many areas, and that just two of 31 key policy milestones have been met over the year since parliament declared a climate emergency.

The people taking action today hope to make clear that they can no longer trust the UK Government with their future.

In Wandsworth, too, the local council declared a climate emergency almost two years ago but has done almost nothing to tackle it. This is why XR Wandsworth has launched its Wake Up Wandsworth campaign, which presents four demands to the council - on air pollution, green spaces, food waste and divestment.

This article was produced by XR Wandsworth using our 'Nub It' button, the views do not necessarily represent that of Nub News.

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