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UK protest groups ‘to escalate’ action on climate change

Environmental and animal rights protesters have vowed to step up their campaigns after disrupting two of UK’s major sporting events in the last few days.

Groups including Extinction Rebellion, Global Justice Now, and Don’t Pay UK say they will coordinate action in a bid to force the government into more action to prevent climate change.

On Monday, the Snooker World Championship, one of the sport’s showpiece events, was halted when two protestors from Just Stop Oil interrupted two matches.

And on Saturday, the Grand National, one of the UK’s premier horseracing events, was delayed when animal rights campaigners combined with climate activists to try to get on the course. Police arrested more than 100 people at the world famous Aintree racecourse, in Liverpool.

The UK has seen a growing number of grassroots protests and disruption to daily life, an issue that has risen up the political agenda and sparked calls for the police to get tough on activists.

On Tuesday, at a press conference, Extinction Rebellion (XR) promised to intensify action unless government ministers end all funding, licensing, and approval for new fossil fuel projects.

XR and the alliance of groups also called for the creation of a new ‘emergency citizens assembly’ to allow for further discussion about the environmental issues.

The groups gave a deadline of 5pm on Tuesday 25 April for the government to reply, a move seen as highly unlikely as ministers have previously said they would not bow to threats.

The groups’ ultimatums has been declared ahead of a major four-day climate protest labelled ‘The Big One’, in central London, starting on Friday April 21 until Monday April 24. Similar action last summer brought parts of the capital to a standstill, with roads and bridges closed.

Marjin van de Geer, from XR, said on Tuesday that if the government doesn’t reply to these demands by “10am on Tuesday April 25, Extinction Rebellion will build an unprecedented coalition, stepping up our campaigns in the weeks and months ahead”.

About 200 protest organisations have declared their support for these demands, and 28,000 people have so far signed up to attend the four-day protest. Van de Geer has said the protest is “not intended as public disruption”.

At the snooker protest on Monday, Just Stop Oil activist Eddie Whittingham stormed the Crucible Theatre, in Sheffield, and climbed on to a snooker table, covering it in orange powder.

At the same time, another match being played was targeted, by former museum worker Margaret Reid, where she attempted to glue herself to the table. Reid was prevented from doing so by the referee, Olivier Marteel.

Police said two individuals, a 30-year-old man and a 52-year-old woman have been arrested.

Whittingham was quoted in a Just Stop Oil press release as saying: “I don’t want to be disrupting something that people enjoy, but we’re facing an extremely grave situation.”

Saturday’s Grand National action saw 118 people arrested as they tried to scale the perimeter fence at the racecourse.

Barry Hearn, whose sports promotion company is involved in snooker, darts, and golf, said the escalation in protests should be met with tougher punishments. He told TalkSport, a UK radio station: “Maybe some community hours, a month in prison; we are such a soft touch. No other country would put up with this. It is a ludicrous situation.”

Hearn added: “When someone intrudes on the field of play, wherever it is, your first thought is this is actually not a protest, and that it could be something quite harmful.”

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Tags: climate change Just Stop Oil Extinction Rebellion snooker


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