One of the most extraordinary peaceful protests in Southwark’s history took place last Saturday.
Nearly 6,000 protesters sat and occupied five Thames bridges, including Southwark Bridge, in one of the largest acts of Gandhian non-violent direct action, ever to take place in London.
London Bridge and Vauxhall bridges were left open, as in the Marathon, to ensure emergency vehicles operated safely.
They were making a desperate plea to the UK government to take the climate crisis seriously.
The protest followed two terrifying reports that came out in August & September.
A report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences stated that the earth was close to irreversible runaway globing warming, meaning that soon humanity could no longer do anything to stop it.
Then the UN Secretary General issued an unprecedented alarm call to the world, stating that unless we started radical cuts to carbon emissions, within TWO years, the human race faced extinction.
Despite this, the UK government issued no response and instead threw oil on the flames in October’s budget, by giving billions more to road building, fracking & North Sea oil tax subsidies and fuel duty cuts, whilst cutting funding for clean renewable energy & home insulation in half.
Our solar industry has been slashed by 95% in just two years.
Then, a new protest movement sprung out of nowhere, called the Extinction Rebellion.
In a matter of weeks, it gained such momentum that thousands were willing to face arrest by taking peaceful non-violent direct action by closing the bridges. The police arrested 82 of us, one by one.
Our protest demands were simple. They call on the government to cut carbon emissions to zero by 2025 and to organise a citizen’s assembly to decide the fairest way to do so.
The group is planning more protests, with the next being on Saturday. Information can be found at www.rebellion.earth
Unless thousands carry out such arrestable peaceful actions across the world in the coming months, not only will Southwark be permanently flooded, but our children will face a future of wildfires, floods, famines, migrations and eventually extinction.
Bristol City Council has declared a climate emergency. What will Southwark Council do?
The time for courageous action is now.
Donnachadh McCarthy has been an environmental campaigner in Southwark since 1992 and is author of “The Prostitute State – How Britain’s Democracy Has Been Bought” www.theprostitutestate.co.uk . He is also an independent environmental consultant www.3acorns.co.uk @DonnachadhMc