Rebels arrested in London climate protests

Police arrest a climate protester on Whitehall

Climate change protesters from the Hastings, St Leonards and Rye Extinction Rebellion have put their liberty on the line and been arrested during the demonstrations taking place in London.

We’re proud of everyone who has taken part in the London protests, but this is not fundamentally about causing disruption. This is about getting the government to act now. It declared a climate emergency in April but have done nothing about it – we want to know what their plans are because the numbers are very scary.

The bodies of the handcuffed arrestees pile up along the walls of the Cabinet Office

1 in 4 species are at risk of extinction.

There has been an average decline of 60% in the population size of thousands of vertebrate species around the world between 1970 and 2014.

This year, 11,000 scientists stated: “Scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any great existential threat … Based on this obligation and the data presented below, we herein proclaim … a clear and unequivocal declaration that a climate emergency exists on planet Earth.”

Globally, the past years (2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018) have been the hottest on record, and the 20 warmest have all occurred in the past 22 years.

The world is currently on track to warm by as much as 3.4C by the end of the century – a situation that would escalate disastrous heatwaves, flooding, droughts and societal unrest.

Night falls in Whitehall

I am hoping to feed back here a more personal experience of the protest next week.

Image Credits: Seana Lannigan .


  1. Great work raising the profile of the climate and ecological collapse which is going on around us! Hopefully more people will listen and rise up against government inaction on this.

    • Actually John, that’s not how it works. Being arrested does not imply a criminal record. For that to happen, first you have to be charged (this can be several months after the arrest) and then you have to be found guilty. Even in that case, many rebels arrested in April and subsequently charged were given a conditional discharge by judges, so if they maintain good behaviour then they get no criminal record. This is because the judges recognised the rebels were people of good character and were acting out of conscience rather than malicious intent.

      It’s also worth noting that many rebels are in a position where having a criminal record will not affect their employment. This is a privileged position, for sure, but I’m pleased that they choose to use that privilege to stand up for something they believe in, rather than sit at home.

      [NOTE: This comment has been slightly edited to comply with our guidelines]

  2. What is the effect of bonfire and fireworks on air pollution and long term pollution ?
    Will Rye Bonfire be able to lessen the above if a cause for concern?
    Will Rye extinction be monitoring the effects or protesting ?

      • That’s a very good point Tony. A lot of what we have considered normal we’re coming to realise is undermining the ecosystem and climate that provides us with food, water and clean air. If maintaining a tradition is going to kill a person, surely they should give up on it? Obviously Rye Fawkes is a very small example of this, as it only happens once a year, there’s much more impactful traditions we could look at.

  3. Extinction Rebellion is about focussing on the bigger picture – yes we all need to make personal changes in our lives – However time is running out – We need the Government to step up with policies to bring about bigger changes starting with cancelling Heathrow expansion, Fracking and the opening of coal mines. Burning of wood by comparison is a drop in the ocean. It’s the 100 million+ barrels of oil, 10 billion+ cubic metres of gas and 20 million+ tonnes of coal produced globally DAILY. The burning of fossil fuels is the key driver behind climate change.

  4. Burning of wood either in the garden, or in woodburners maybe a drop in the ocean jane, but they are also an irritant to neighbours in built up areas,especially when there is no wind,and the toxic smoke lingers in the immediate area, and is not good for the health of older people, lets have a level playing field on this subject, and not double standards.

  5. I believe the discussion was about Rye bonfire night, not about burning wood in the garden or in woodburners? Do you have a point to make about that or are you changing the subject? Fine either way, just trying to understand what you are saying.

  6. The subject is: human induced climate change and mass extinction of species. It is a human trait to try and relate things to what we know about, like in this instance bonfires, or often people start to talk to me about single use plastics when talking about climate change, however it is not tackling the problem. Sadly this Government takes a similar approach, by pretty much ignoring the issue, when solutions are available right now. Philip Hammond estimated that achieving carbon neutrality for the UK would cost approx £1 trillion pounds. This sounds a lot, but in fact the private wealth we collectively own amounts to £13 trillion, so all it takes is to sacrifice 1/13 th of our wealth. If you think you don’t have that much, that is probably because the top 10% of the population have 290 times more wealth than the bottom 10%! The value of second homes alone in the UK is almost £1 trillion. The estimate for achieving carbon neutrality is not taking into account the financial benefits that becoming world leaders in the green industrial revolution could bring. It needs to happen anyway, so why not get on with it? We started the industrial revolution, we have a moral obligation to now lead the way again.

  7. Perphaps if you read janes post properly, you would have seen her mentioning wood, i just highlighted that wood burning is also eco unfriendly, it seems the silence is deafening when somebody highlights the truth of the matter.

    • What I’d like to know John, is whether a few XR supporters burning wood in stoves is the only thing stopping you joining them? If a handful of people stopping using their woodstoves would get you and those like you to radically change their lifestyle, maybe they’d do it. But I suspect you’d just find another reason to carry on ignoring the issue.

      It sounds like you don’t burn wood yourself. I’m wondering if you’ve taken any significant practical steps to reduce your impact on the environment that the rest of us could learn from?

  8. My original post doesn’t mention bonfires or wood and in my reply I am not wanting to get drawn into the issue of wood burning or not. I am attempting to draw your attention back to the bigger picture that Extinction Rebellion focusses on and the MASSIVE issue that we have to tackle NOW is our climate crisis. Burning fossil fuels on such a massive scale is a key driver behind climate change so this is what needs to change. It is much easier to focus on bonfires, plastic etc but if we are to meet our targets we need to tackle the huge issue of fossil fuel now – to make a real difference.
    I hope this helps.

  9. My last word on this subject to mike pepler is, yes lets just dismiss a few million woodburners,a little bit of smog doesn’t matter to him, as for the estimated 17 million costs to the metropolitan police,thats just pie in the sky,to the amount of benefits many of these people have been getting, over the last 2 weeks of mayhem in London.I was actually close to Oxford Circus last week, and Circus just about summed up some of these Clowns prancing and dancing about,and actually wondered what planet they were on,perhaps mike pepler can tell us where he works,thats if he actually does, and then we can all go round to his place and disrupt his day,like we saw the clowns do,in London last week.

    • Happy to answer your question John. I work for Ashden, a charity that promotes the use of sustainable energy in the UK and developing countries, where it alleviates poverty as well as cutting carbon. I usually work from home, and take the train to London one day a week. Alongside that I’m also qualified in chainsaw use, and manage some woodland near Rye using traditional coppicing techniques to supply produce and improve biodiversity, while also providing a place for local schoolchildren to learn about nature, etc. For the past five years I’ve also been a volunteer community first responder with the ambulance service, though I had to stop doing that earlier this year. I remain a trustee for the local charity supporting the first responder work, and still help out at local training events to educate people in using the public access defibrillators.

      Yet despite all that, and doing as much as I can to cut our energy use at home, I still don’t feel it is enough, because system change is required to safeguard my and your future. That’s why I’ve used a significant portion of my annual leave and paid for some pricey train tickets to act as a legal observer to support the XR protests in London.

      If there’s one thing for certain it’s that significant disruption to our way of life is on the way. I’m happy to put up with a bit of extra disruption right now from XR and School Climate Strikes to force government to act and hopefully reduce the disruption we will face in future due to a chaotic climate and collapsing society.

  10. A quick thought. If anyone has not yet read the Policy Exchange paper
    entitled ‘ Extremism Rebellion ‘, by Tom Wilson and Richard Walton, it might be worth doing so. It was published 16th July 2019 and can be read/downloaded from the P E website. There are a wide range of publications available on their website covering a host of issues and they are full of imaginative and stimulating ideas and policy proposals.

  11. The Policy Exchange is a political organisation that scores zero on the transparency rating by Who Funds You? think tank, in other words an unreliable and biased source of information, almost certainly funded by fossil fuel companies. I do find it pathetic that climate change deniers persist at misdirection rather than rationally addressing the issue. What is wrong with resorting to science, facts and evidence?

  12. On 23 October I posted the suggestion that people interested in Extinction Rebellion should read the Policy Exchange report entitled ‘ Extremism
    Rebellion ‘. Within hours Mr Dominic Manning replied with two points.
    The first is to argue that Policy Exchange is ‘ an unreliable and biased source of informatiion ‘ because ‘ Who Funds You ‘ places it in its category E, its lowest category of transparency. But the fact that we do not know who funds a ‘ think tank ‘ or do not like those sources of funding does not mean that any of us can simply dismiss its actual work when we do it like what it says.
    Mr Mannings second point is to ‘ find it pathetic that climate change deniers persist in misdirecting…..’. Some clarification is required here. In the context of my posting who are the ‘ climate change deniers ‘ you are referring to Mr Manning. It would be sad if your comments were misunderstood by anyone reading my original posting and your initial reply.

    • It is revealing that Richard Kent thinks I had made ‘two points’, when in fact I had also made a call to ‘rationally address the issue. What is wrong with resorting to science, facts and evidence?’ – he makes no reference to this. Interestingly, the document he wants you to read doesn’t appear to be much interested in the issue of climate change and its consequences either. It doesn’t for instance refer to a study that finds that melting arctic permafrost will add $70 trillion to climate costs – that’s not what you want to hear, is it? Instead it labels XR activists as ‘extremists’ (to make that link in your mind to violent radicalism), when in fact we are acting rationally. It suggests that XR wants to overturn democracy: that could not be further from the truth, as it seeks to strengthen democracy by introducing citizens’ assemblies. Who right now would argue that our democracy is not broken? Most preposterously, it suggests that XR could become violent, when non-violence underpins the whole movement. The document is very much the curate’s egg, correctly identifying that XR is challenging the neo-liberal belief in growth in perpetuity. Quite right too, it is a Ponzi scheme that will unravel on our children. It then effectively calls for a clamp down on civil liberties and freedom of speech: terrifying. Read it if you will.
      There have been many comments by middle aged (and older) white men, including myself, on the XR articles. It would be nice to hear from some young people too: after all, they will have to bear the brunt of the selfishness, greed and stupidity of my generation.


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