Extinction Rebellion’s (XR) “Summer Uprising” began on Monday morning in typically brazen fashion.
Activists from the group fighting climate catastrophe and ecological collapse parked boats in the middle of five major cities.
In London, Leeds, Bristol, Cardiff and Glasgow, activists blocked roads and demanded that the government “act now”.
Organisers said that 3,000 people have signed up to participate in several days of action.
In London, a blue boat named “Polly Higgins” after the pioneering environmental lawyer who died in April, was parked outside the Royal Courts of Justice.
XR members held banners blocking off the Strand in each direction. One activist, who didn’t want to be named, said being involved in XR “feels good.”
“The word ‘solidarity’ gets thrown around a lot, but you really see it here. I was in despair before, but now it’s like collective despair, it’s more empowering.”
Huge cheers erupted through the crowd as a flag declaring “make ecocide law” was hoisted.
It reflects a demand of some in the environmental movement to make it a criminal offence for serious loss, damage or destruction of ecosystems.
Jojo Mehta, co-founder of the Stop Ecocide campaigning group addressed the crowd from the boat. She argued that “in the 21st century, the most serious crime is ecocide—our conscience is telling us to take action, get out there and protect Earth.”
“XR has done an amazing job in waking people up and waking the government up—the conversation has completely changed,” she said.
Izzy was handing out leaflets what the protest was about. “I’ve always cared about the environment and wildlife, but I’ve never got involved in activism before. But this feels important to do—it seems urgent”, she said
“We have a moral obligation to protect the natural world, and show some outrage, because once it’s gone its gone.”
Activists marched from the Royal Courts of Justice to Millennium Green in Waterloo where they plan to camp out for five days of workshops and training.
In Leeds, a yellow boat bearing the demand “planet before profit” parked in the financial district, the most polluted part of the city.
Alex Evans said they were taking part in the action because “My eldest child is nine years old. For each of those nine years I’ve watched her future get steadily worse while everyone waits for everyone else to do something on climate change.
“Now we’re out of time and we can see climate breakdown all around us. Enough’s enough, it’s time to act now.”
In Bristol DJs played to hundreds of activists who occupied the city centre and hung a banner declaring “act now” over Bristol bridge.
In Glasgow, their purple boat was christened Amal Gous, a Sudanese tea seller murdered during the sit-in in Khartoum. XR is planning to hold workshops and assemblies over the theme of climate refugees.
In Cardiff activists called for the Welsh government to “dramatically accelerate its actions in tackling the climate crisis and ecological emergency”.
Staci Sylvan from XR Wales said, “This is about my children’s future but also about equality. It is always the poorest people who suffer most from climate related disasters. I want the government to do something about it now, not wait for more disasters and more people to suffer.”