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Climate protesters block London bridges after activists jailed

Climate protesters block London bridges after activists jailed

Traffic on Lambeth and Vauxhall bridges stopped in rally against jailing of Insulate Britain members

Police have arrested 30 climate activists after a major bridge in central London was blocked by a sit-down protest.

The arrests on Lambeth Bridge came after Public Order Act conditions were imposed on the protest, which had been held in support of nine Insulate Britain campaigners who were jailed this week.

The bridge had been shut to traffic for a number of hours on Saturday by the sit-in, which initially involved up to 250 people who had marched from the Royal Courts of Justice.

Referring to Public Order Act conditions imposed on the protest, the Metropolitan police said: “Lambeth Bridge has now been reopened, 30 arrests were made for breach of S14 conditions.”

The force also said that Vauxhall Cross, where some of the demonstrators had moved, had reopened.

Earlier, climate protesters blocked the two London bridges as part of a demonstration against the jailing of nine Insulate Britain activists.

Members of the group were sentenced this week after breaching a court injunction in place to stop further road blockades that have caused serious disruption for motorists since September.

Campaigners stopped traffic on Lambeth Bridge, which crosses the Thames between Westminster and Lambeth, just after 2.10pm on Saturday. A sit-down protest forced police to divert traffic to other routes.

Supporters of the nine jailed Insulate Britain climate activists blocking Lambeth Bridge in central London
Supporters of the nine jailed Insulate Britain climate activists blocking Lambeth Bridge in central London on Saturday 20 November. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Earlier on Saturday evening, the Met imposed public order conditions on the protest and urged the remaining protesters to leave. Four of the protesters had glued themselves together.

The public order notice said the group have “no identified organiser” and “warm clothing, food, seats” and if they fail to leave, could face arrest.

An offshoot protest also blocked Vauxhall Bridge, the next bridge upriver.

Gabriella Ditton, 27, who was taking part in the demonstration at Lambeth Bridge said she believed she would end up in jail for taking part in the protests. She has been arrested six times with the campaign group, once for breaking the injunction.

“I have known for a couple of years that the only thing that is going to serve us is civil resistance. I have faith in people coming together.

“Solutions to this crisis exist, we just need the political will to do it.”

Gabriella Ditton.
Gabriella Ditton: ‘The only thing that is going to serve us is civil resistance.’ Photograph: Helen William/PA

Zoe Cohen, 51, who had travelled from Warrington in north-west England to take part, said: “I am angry, distraught and grieving for the huge amount of nature that we have already lost.”

She added that “ordinary people should not have to do this and risk prison”.

Any disruption is microscopic to the suffering of millions of people who are dying now across the world due to this crisis.”

Insulate Britain said it was not involved with setting up the event, which began after more than 200 supporters of the imprisoned activists gathered outside the Royal Courts of Justice in the afternoon.

One campaigner, Gully, told the crowd: “Make no mistake, these are political prisoners and they will not be the last.”

The group then walked from the courts to Westminster, chanting “power to the people”.

Insulate Britain began a wave of protests in September and blocked the M25, other roads in London, Birmingham and Manchester, and near the port of Dover in Kent.

The nine protesters were sentenced at the high court on Wednesday after admitting breaching an injunction by taking part in a blockade of the M25 during the morning rush hour on 8 October.


Harry Taylor at The Guardian

After 64 Years, the River Thames Sheds Its “Biologically Dead” Classification

After 64 Years, the River Thames Sheds Its “Biologically Dead” Classification

London’s River Thames is one of the most famous rivers in the world, with parts of the 215-mile river flowing right through Central London, alongside sights like Big Ben, the Tower of London, the London Eye, and the Tower Bridge. 64 years ago, parts of the River Thames were declared dead — and after years of hard work, signs of life in the River Thames have scientists rejoicing.

London’s River Thames is no longer “biologically dead.”

The ​​Zoological Society of London (ZSL) just published a report titled The State of the Thames 2021, which analyzes environmental trends observed in the river over the past 64 years. The report’s introduction explained that in 1957, Natural History Museum scientists declared parts of the Tidal Thames “biologically dead.” Essentially, the estuary was so ravaged by pollution, that animals could barely survive in it.

River Thames
A seal rests on the banks of the River Thames in Hammersmith on March 08, 2021 in London, England.

But for the past 18 years, the ZSL has been working to change that, and “restore the Tidal Thames to a biodiverse estuarine ecosystem that provides ecosystem services benefiting our economy and wellbeing,” as the ZSL’s Director of Conservation and Policy, Dr. Andrew Terry, wrote in the report’s forward.

And the work has paid off — according to the ZSL, the Tidal Thames “once again provides a rich and varied habitat to an abundance of wildlife, and many benefits to people.”

What animals were discovered in the River Thames?

As reported by The Hill, the ZSL claims that the River Thames is now home to over 92 species of birds, 115 species of fish, and three species of shark: the starry smooth-hound, the spurdog, and the tope shark, the latter two of which are classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.

But Londoners shouldn’t get too excited — spurdogs are venomous sharks. Fortunately, they tend to live in the river’s depths, as noted by CNN.

Healthy rivers are good for wildlife and for the climate.

Additionally, the river also now contains about 600 hectares of coastal wetlands, aka salt marshes, according to The Hill. Salt marshes have endless positive effects on the environment — they help keep coastlines healthy, they provide food and habitats for fish, they defend shorelines from erosion, they filter runoff, and they absorb rainwater, which lessens the severity of floods, as per the National Ocean Service.

“A healthy Thames is also vital in mitigating some of the impacts of climate change,” Terry added. “As we increasingly recognise the intrinsic and economic value of nature’s services to humans, we hope to see investment in the continued restoration of the river.”

That said, the climate crisis has definitely been a factor in the Thames’ struggles. The report’s executive summary noted that rising global temperatures, rising water temperatures, rising sea levels, and increasing stormwater runoff can all negatively impact the river, which can harm wildlife. Plastic pollution is a factor as well, as marine animals often get tangled in plastic waste, or mistake plastic for food, both of which can kill them.

To help prevent climate change further hurting the Thames, the ZSL plans to continue its work to restore wildlife along the River Thames, set limits for plastic pollution throughout the river, and get local communities involved.


Sophie Hirsch at Green Matters

Science Museum chooses fossil fuel company as new climate show sponsor

Science Museum chooses fossil fuel company as new climate show sponsor

Campaigners say museum ‘doubling down’ on ‘reckless’ choices of funder with backing from arm of coal giant Adani

The UK’s Science Museum has “doubled down” on its sponsorship of climate exhibitions by fossil fuel companies, campaigners say, by taking funding from a subsidiary of the Adani Group.

Adani is a conglomerate with major holdings in coal, the most polluting fossil fuel. The Energy Revolution gallery, opening in 2023, will be sponsored by Adani’s Green Energy arm.

The museum said the gallery “will explore the latest climate science and the energy revolution needed to cut global dependence on fossil fuels”. Dame Mary Archer, chair of the Science Museum Group, said: “This gallery will take a truly global perspective on the world’s most urgent challenge. We’re hugely grateful to Adani Green Energy for the significant financial support.”

Campaigners called the decision “astonishing” and “reckless”. The Science Museum has attracted heavy criticism over sponsorship deals with oil and gas giants Shell, BP and Equinor. The Shell deal included a contract clause committing the museum not to “damage the goodwill or reputation” of the oil company.

Science Museum chooses fossil fuel company as new climate show sponsor

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LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2021/05/31: An Extinction Rebellion activist stands outside the Science Museum in London during the anti-Shell protest.The activists gathered outside the museum in South Kensington once again as part of their ongoing protest against Shell's sponsorship of the Our Future Planet climate change exhibition. (Photo by Vuk Valcic/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The museum’s former director, climate scientist Prof Chris Rapley, resigned from its advisory board on 2 October over the issue. The museum is hosting the government’s Global Investment Summit on Tuesday, part of the preparations for the crucial Cop26 climate summit at the end of the month in Glasgow.

Adani has said it wants to be the largest renewable energy company in the world by 2030. But it is facing opposition in India and Australia over plans to expand its coal operations. Gautam Adani, group chair, said: “The new gallery will explore how we can power the future through low carbon technologies.”

Jess Worth, from Culture Unstained, said: “Astonishingly, the museum’s management have doubled down and signed up Adani – a coal conglomerate – to sponsor a gallery about the energy transition. Their enthusiasm for fossil fuel partnerships has turned controversy into a crisis of credibility, and they must be held to account for their reckless decisions.”

Adrian Burragubba, an Indigenous traditional owner of land targeted by Adani for a huge coal mine in Australia, said: “By putting this company on a pedestal, the Science Museum is complicit in Adani’s violation of our human rights and destruction of our ancestral lands.”

Sir Ian Blatchford, chief executive of the Science Museum, said: “Adani Green Energy already has one of the world’s largest renewable portfolios and plans to invest $20bn in clean energy over the next 10 years. And be in no doubt, such massive investments are needed to move India from high-carbon to low-carbon energy whilst still meeting their growing energy needs.”

Shell’s sponsorship of the museum’s current climate exhibition, Our Future Planet, has been criticised by scientists, exhibition contributors and Greta Thunberg. On Sunday protesters delivered a huge pile of bin bags to the museum to protest against links to coal.


Damian Carrington at The Guardian