Eight arrested following climate change protests in London

20 September 2019, 13:31

By Asher McShane

Eight people have been arrested in London following huge nationwide protests calling for authorities to do more about climate change.

Seven people were arrested for breaching protest conditions, and another was arrested on Lambeth Bridge on suspicion of setting off a flare in a public place, the Metropolitan Police said.

No other details were provided.

The arrests came as thousands of climate protesters descended on cities in the UK in part of a mass global protest inspired by climate activist Greta Thunberg.

Pupils took to the streets in large numbers in defiance of the wishes of education bosses as part of the mass climate change strike.

Organisers estimated that 100,000 people took part in the protests in central London, while 20,000 more were estimated in Edinburgh and 10,000 in Brighton.

Global Srike 4 Climate protests took place across the UK, following protests around the world which started in Australia.

The strikes are aimed at urgently slashing global output of dangerous greenhouse gases that are fuelling climate change.

A committed protestor in Norwich city centre today
A committed protestor in Norwich city centre today. Picture: Global's Newsroom

First protests were held in Australia, where an estimated 300,000 people gathered at more than 100 rallies calling for action to guard against climate change.

Students walked out of classes to join the protest
Students walked out of classes to join the protest. Picture: PA

Demonstrations were also being held across parts of Asia, South Africa and in European cities, as part of a movement inspired by teenage activist Greta Thunberg which has snowballed into mass protests around the world.

Schoolchildren and students walked out of classrooms across the country today.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "It is great that young people want to highlight the climate crisis, but we have consistently said that pupils should not miss school to take part in protests and should instead talk to their teachers about activities which can take place in school."

Panoramic shot of Norwich protest, outside City Hall
Panoramic shot of Norwich protest, outside City Hall. Picture: Global's Newsroom

But other politicians and school leaders have backed the youngsters walking out of school as part of the Youth Strike 4 Climate campaign.

Suzie Longstaff, headmistress of Putney High School, a private girls' school, said young people should be able to make their own decisions about whether to take part in the action and that she applauded her students for having an environmental and social conscience.

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was set to address a climate rally in Westminster, backed the "inspirational" young people who are "leading by example" and "educating us" about the climate crisis and species extinction.

London mayor Sadiq Khan said he was "standing in solidarity" with the strikers and was encouraging City Hall staff to take time out of their day to observe the strike, as he called for more action from Government.

Some companies were actively helping staff take part by closing stores and offices, including Patagonia and Ben & Jerry's, whose sign on their central London shop on Wardour Street read: "Gone striking. Because ya know, the planet."

As protests got under way across the UK, the Metropolitan Police said two adults had been arrested on The Strand in central London - where XR Universities, an Extinction Rebellion group are holding a protest - in breach of an order dictating protesters must gather in a specific place in Westminster.

The police urged everyone attending the climate strike to go to Millbank, "where in conjunction with the organisers we have created a safe space for protest".

The first large-scale protests of Friday's "global climate strike" took place in Sydney and Canberra, with demonstrators calling on leaders in Australia, the world's largest exporter of coal and liquid natural gas, to take more drastic action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The protests come ahead of a climate summit at the UN next week convened by secretary-general Antonio Guterres to urge countries to up their climate efforts.

Much steeper measures are needed across the globe to prevent temperature rises of more than 1.5C (2.7F) or 2C (3.6F) to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

As if to underline the urgency of the issue, the mercury is set to hit 26C (78.8F) in parts of Britain this weekend - 8C above the average for the time of year.

The UK Student Climate Network (UKSCN) says more than 200 events are taking place across the UK, with, for the first time, adults being encouraged to join the youngsters as they strike.

Strikes are taking place in cities including Cambridge, Birmingham, Belfast and Edinburgh, with students letting off alarm bells at 1pm to "raise the alarm" for the climate.

UKSCN is calling on politicians to bring in a "Green New Deal" to cut the UK's emissions to zero and improve lives, changes to education to equip youngsters to deal with the climate crisis, and votes at 16 to give them a voice.

Among the many trade unions throwing their weight behind the strikes are the TUC Congress, the University and College Union and Unite, while environmental campaigners, aid agencies and faith groups are joining the protests.

Additional reporting by PA