Emma Thompson rallies climate change activists during London protest

Over 680 arrested as the Extinction Rebellion campaign group stages blockades

British actor Emma Thompson participates in an Extinction Rebellion climate change demonstration at Oxford Circus in London, Britain. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

British actor Emma Thompson participates in an Extinction Rebellion climate change demonstration at Oxford Circus in London, Britain. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

 

Film star Emma Thompson joined climate change activists rallying in a central London shopping district on Friday, part of five days of protests which have clogged the British capital with transport snarl-ups.

The actor read poetry praising Earth’s bounties to the demonstrators during the event.

Organisers Extinction Rebellion have called for non-violent civil disobedience to force the British government to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2025 and stop what they call a global climate crisis.

The protests did not cause major travel disruption on Friday during one of Britain’s biggest holiday weekends, but police in London said they have now arrested more than 682 people in connection with the demonstrations.

Extinction Rebellion blocked several locations in central London this week after staging a semi-nude protest in parliament earlier this month.

“Our planet is in serious trouble,” Thompson told reporters amid a crowd of what eyewitnesses said was about 300 activists.

She addressed the protesters from a pink boat in the middle of London’s Oxford Circus as shoppers and tourists milled past.

“We are here in this island of sanity and it makes me so happy to be able to join you all and to add my voice to the young people here who have inspired a whole new movement,” said Thompson, who has won two Academy awards and is one of Britain’s most acclaimed actors.

She was one of several actors who read poems celebrating the beauty of nature from the boat. The activists formed a human chain around the vessel, with one attached to its main mast, making it extremely difficult for the police to dislodge him.

Painstaking operation

After a painstaking operation, they removed him and secured the boat, but had difficulty transporting the vessel away because more protesters continually sat in their path.

“The serious disruption the demonstrations are causing to people in London and beyond is unacceptable and we completely understand the concern it is causing to those who are disrupted by it,” police said in a statement.

Thompson’s appearance followed a demonstration near Heathrow Airport earlier, where a group of about a dozen teenagers, some as young as 13 and 14, held alongside a busy road a banner which read: “Are we the last generation?”

Some of the teenagers wept and hugged each other, The group was far outnumbered by police. “I fear for my future,” said Oscar Idle (17). “That fear gives me courage to act.”

“I want to live in a society which is not catastrophic, where there is not going to be food shortages, wild fires and hurricanes, where people can live,” he said. – Reuters