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Extinction Rebellion protest high air pollution levels
Photography Gareth Morris, courtesy Extinction Rebellion

Extinction Rebellion glued to London road with illegal air pollution levels

A major street near Leicester Square was blocked by protesters staging ‘The Air We Grieve’ demonstration

Extinction Rebellion activists have staged a demonstration called ‘The Air We Grieve’ demanding action on the “deadly levels of air pollution” in central London this morning.

Blocking Cranbourne Street outside Leicester Square – a road chosen for its dangerously high levels of pollution – six protesters wearing gas masks glued themselves to 25 blocks on the road, which represent the amount of Londoners who die each day as a result of polluted air.

“We are here demanding action on illegal levels of toxic air in our communities, our schools, and our streets,” XR spokesperson Rosamund Frost said in a press release. “The government has neglected to tackle fatal levels of air pollution. How can we put our trust in them to address the broader climate and ecological emergency?”

The action comes as XR hunger strikers enter their fourth week without food, highlighting the vulnerability of our food supplies, and pressuring political parties to support the group’s Three Demands Bill. The bill requires governments to declare a climate emergency, commit to zero emissions by 2025, and create a Citizens’ Assembly to set out how we achieve this.

76-year-old Peter Cole is one of those on hunger strike. He said of the meaning behind today’s action: “As an emeritus professor of respiratory medicine, I am well aware of the facts about air pollution and am deeply concerned that, unless we act now on the climate emergency, the lung damage that is already apparent in children in many parts of the UK will condemn them to ongoing and possibly fatal lung disease as they grow up.” 

The hunger strikers are asking all party leaders to meet them to discuss their support for the Three Demands Bill, but have so far only met with Plaid Cymru’s Adam Price. Though the group has met deputy leaders of Labour, the Lib Dems, and the Green Party, while – unsurprisingly – the Tories have not engaged at all.