The fight will go on
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AN environmentalist has spoken of his arrest during the climate change protests in London.
Simon Clark was one of a group of 10 representing the local branch of Extinction Rebellion, an international movement that uses non-violent civil disobedience in an attempt to halt mass extinction and minimise the risk of social collapse, during a two-week series of actions around London to demand the UK government take urgent action to tackle the climate crisis.
He explained: "The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change say what is done, or not done, over the next 10 years will determine the conditions of life for all species on Earth for thousands of years to come. The whole world needs to half its CO2 emissions by 2030 to have any chance of maintaining climate stability but little is being done.
"As I read more I got worried, angry and needed to do something, so I took two weeks unpaid leave from work and joined nine other people from Forres at the civil disobedience rebellion in London. As few in Government and with power act, I felt this was the only thing I could do, to try and wake us all up. Most of us do what we can individually, but massive change can now only come from structural change."
The Scottish group blocked Victoria Street that leads to Parliament Square for three days, sleeping on the road, before the police cleared the camp. Three of them were arrested.
"I hadn’t planned to be," said Simon. "As I sat alone for five hours in a cell I thought about all those businesses who pollute and burn our earth for personal gain; the financial investors who pour billions into those industries; the UK Government who subsidise fossil fuel with £10.5billion every year. If we carry on as usual the catastrophes scientists warn us of will come about, and probably worse.
"And there I was, arrested for protesting and blocking a road. My anger rose, I thought: I shouldn’t be the one on trial, I’m just doing what little a small person can do to plead for protection and a change of course. What are we all doing? It feels tragic."
The English High Court has since ruled that the Metropolitan Police’s blanket ban of Extinction Rebellion protests - implemented under Section 14 of the Public Order Act and covering the whole of London - was unlawful. The judgment upholds the right to peaceful protest and prohibits the police from any such future ban.
Simon said: "The thousands on the streets that fortnight were full of warm hearts, good humour and togetherness, despite what the press said. We sang a lot and spoke to lots of people, many of whom understood and supported our acts of desperation.
"Lots is talked about, little is done but the solutions are well known. Among them are to leave coal, oil and gas in the ground and rapidly develop renewable energy. In the UK, every house needs insulating as soon as possible. The changes needed are massive and time is running out.
"The fortnight has probably changed my life forever. I hope we can all learn more, come together locally and stand up for a cleaner world and a future for all, for if we don't act now future generations will not forgive us."