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Climate change protesters in Piccadilly Circus
Climate change protesters in Piccadilly Circuscourtesy of Instagram/@extinctionrebellion

Five things you need to know about the climate change protests

On day six of Extinction Rebellion’s London occupation

Since Monday (April 15) climate change activists have occupied large areas of London – including Waterloo Bridge, Marble Arch, Piccadilly Circus, Parliament Square, and Oxford Circus – in an attempt to push the government towards positive action. The protests have been led by the international protest group Extinction Rebellion (the same group that staged a naked protest during the Brexit debates in parliament) that uses non-violent civil disobedience to highlight environmental matters.

The protests have mainly involved the disruption of traffic (particularly on London’s bridges), but there have been some arrests, which Extinction Rebellion said they were ready for.

Here’s what you need to know about the climate change protests as they near the end of their first week.

THEY’VE BEEN MOSTLY POLITE AND PEACEFUL

In line with Extinction Rebellion’s ideals, the protests have been peaceful and, essentially, non-violent. People have been handing out refreshments in the warm weather and reports say that activist’s relations with the police have been largely good-natured, with both groups standing together and chatting.

THERE HAVE BEEN A LOT OF ARRESTS, THOUGH

Of course, with civil disobedience on the cards, it’s not all been so friendly. In a tweet posted yesterday (April 19), the Met Police stated that they had made 106 arrests throughout the day, bringing the total since Monday to 682. Acts of disobedience have included the vandalism of the oil company Shell’s London headquarters and people chaining themselves to a pink boat parked in Oxford Circus (which has now been removed by police).

YOUTH ACTIVISTS ARE PLAYING A LARGE PART

It’s becoming a familiar trend: schoolkids accepting the responsibility that parliament are severely lacking and taking to the streets to promote environmental action. Around 15 young people, all aged under 17, reportedly protested at Heathrow on Friday. Greta Thunberg – the founder of Europe’s school strikes against climate change – apparently also intends to join the protest when she visits London next week, when she will also address dozens of MPs on climate issues.

AND CELEBRITIES, TOO

Before the pink boat was removed from Oxford Circus, Emma Thompson jumped aboard to address the crowds (although she has been getting some stick for flying over from the US, responding, “If I could fly cleanly, I would”). A pretty big impact has also been made by David Attenborough’s BBC documentary, Climate Change: The Facts, aired Thursday night. Wolfgang Wopperer-Beholz, who signed people up for the protest at Marble Arch, partly attributed an approximate 300 signups in an afternoon to the show. “Earlier, the people who put their names on the list were already knowledgeable,” he told The Guardian. “Now we are seeing more people who don’t know so much, but are pretty enthusiastic.”

AND HERE’S THE END GOAL

Extinction Rebellion has suggested that the protests won’t stop until the government is willing to discuss three demands, laid out on their website: declaring a climate and ecological emergency, acting to “halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025”, and creating a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.