Climate protests disrupt London’s financial hub
Environmentalists glued themselves to the London Stock Exchange entrance and staged impromptu concerts in the middle of traffic on the final day of a campaign that brought parts of the UK capital to a halt. Activists from Extinction Rebellion -- a fast-growing movement founded last year by British academics -- have used 11 days of festive but highly disruptive rallies to focus global attention on climate change.
Their ultimate goal is to slash greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2025 and to end biodiversity loss. But their immediate aim was to get UK politicians to look past hot-button issues such as Brexit and come up with ways to save the planet from damage that younger generations think will hurt them most. Extinction Rebellion members said their campaign drew plenty of public attention but failed to get the government to budge.“The traffic disruptions have really, really brought the whole climate and environment out from being a niche issue,” guitarist Nick Onley said while leading a group of 20 through a Beatles song performance in the middle of a busy street. “But it hasn’t been a complete success.
We haven’t got to that point where the government says ‘yes, please talk to us’,” Onley said as drivers stuck in the heart of London’s bustling financial district furiously honked their horns. An aide to UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove said no meeting had been scheduled with campaigners but that one might possibly happen next week. The protest outside the London Stock Exchange building that stands in the shadow of St. Paul’s Cathedral saw several glue themselves to the pavement in front of one of the glass entrance turnstiles.
One person wearing a gas mask also chained himself to one of the sleek building’s stone columns. “This institution literally trades in the devastation of our planet,” the group said in a statement. Extinction Rebellion estimated that top banks have poured $1.9 trillion (1.7 billion euros) into “fossil fuel financing” since the Paris Agreement on dealing with greenhouse gases was signed in 2016.