Extinction Rebellion protesters have brought a major London road to a standstill as activists take to the streets across five UK cities to demand greater action on climate change.
Five colourful boats have been used to stop traffic in Cardiff, Glasgow, Bristol, Leeds and the capital as part of the group’s week-long “summer uprising”.
It comes after Extinction Rebellion staged an 11-day protest in April, causing major disruption in London with more than 1,000 activists being arrested.
Around 250 protesters sat in the middle of the road outside the Royal Courts of Justice on Monday morning, blocking the Strand.
The road remains closed between Aldwych and Chancery Lane at the time of publication with six buses on diversion, TfL said.
Activists practised yoga and meditation around a blue boat parked in front of the entrance to the court.
More than 15 police vans accompanied the crowd, which included children as young as three months old.
Extinction Rebellion said the protesters were there to “demand the legal system take responsibility in this crisis, and ensure the safety of future generations by making ecocide law”.
“We also stand in solidarity with climate activists around the world who are sacrificing their freedom to fight for climate justice,” it added.
The group is calling on the Metropolitan Police and Crown Prosecution Service to drop all prosecutions against the 1,000 activists arrested in April.
Volunteer Sarah Smith, 35, told The Independent: “We’re asking the government to now act on the climate emergency they’ve declared and actually make some positive changes.
“They’re doing things like going ahead with the Heathrow expansion and still promoting fossil fuels all over the place.”
Joseph Mishan, 61, of the Dharma Action Network, said: “We are bringing to people’s attention the climate crisis that is currently happening and the way we’re doing it is by using a Buddhist approach and sitting in meditation to communicate a sense of presence, groundedness and peacefulness.
“We need to change essentially violent systems which are desecrating the planet and destroying human and animal life. We need to transform these systems into systems that are peaceful, and most of all connected, so we can achieve the reality of interconnectedness. This is a basic Buddhist understanding that all things are connected.”
Matilda Via, 18, added: “I got involved in Extinction Rebellion because I am scared about climate change and I think this is the best way to protect the things that I love.”
Meanwhile, outside Cardiff Castle in Wales, Extinction Rebellion activists parked a green boat in the middle of a busy road.
They were dressed in yellow to represent the dead canaries coal miners used as an advanced warning of danger.
The action has caused disruption in the city centre with delays to public transport, South Wales Police said.
A leaflet handed out by campaigners said they were protesting “to prevent the breakdown of humanity’s life support system, the Earth”, and said they were calling for the the UK Government to create a “national assembly” to implement climate change solutions.
purple boat to block Trongate, covering the intersection of Gallowgate and High Street, by the Merchant City clock tower.
Messages saying “Act Now” and “The future you fear is already here” were printed on the vessel.
Glasgow City Council said the Trongate was closed to all eastbound traffic between Albion Street and High Street due to the continuing protest.
It urged road users to consider taking other routes and warned there could be some congestion on surrounding streets.
Meanwhile in Leeds, protesters targeted the city’s financial district to “draw attention to the links between banking and the climate and ecological emergency”.
Victoria Bridge was closed to all vehicles while pedestrians were allowed to pass though the blockade, the Yorkshire Evening Post reported.
Stephen Lingwood, 37, from Extinction Rebellion Cardiff, said: “People are dying right now of climate chaos in places like India. It’s only going to get worse.
“We’re at the beginning of the sixth mass extinction and a climate genocide and the government’s inaction is, in my view, criminally irresponsible.”
Elliot Blaauw, 66, from Extinction Rebellion Cardiff, said he was ready to risk arrest by gluing himself to the boat if necessary.
“The Clyde will overtop in 20 years, so that’s what the boat is for, it’s a symbol of the water is rising,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan warned the protests could take police officers away from specialist duties such as fighting knife crime.
“Of course I accept there’s a climate emergency, of course I accept the government, me, all of us need to do to far more to address this emergency,” he told LBC.
“But I say in a delicate and polite way please be mindful of the fact that your protest has a consequence on our police officers who are under-resourced and over-stretched.”
The protests in each city are focused on a different ecological threat – rising sea levels, floods, wildfires, crop failures and extreme weather.
Extinction Rebellion is demanding that the government prevent further losses to biodiversity and commit to producing net zero greenhouse gases by 2025.
Last month, the government passed a law to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
But Extinction Rebellion say this is not enough “to prevent catastrophic and irreversible climate breakdown and subsequent loss of life”.
It comes after the government’s own climate advisers warned it is lagging far behind in its efforts to cut emissions. The Committee on Climate Change said the government was taking “a ramshackle, Dad’s Army” approach to tackling the issue.