Climate protesters from Sydney to London yesterday blocked roads, sparking arrests as they launched two weeks of global protests demanding immediate action to save the Earth from “extinction.”
Marching with angry slogans or sitting down in the road and even chaining themselves to vehicles, crowds defied police in a wave of demonstrations in major cities, including Berlin and Amsterdam.
The year-old Extinction Rebellion group has energized a global movement demanding governments cut the carbon emissions that scientists have shown to cause devastating climate change.
They are backed by academics studying climate change.
Their civil disobedience has irritated drivers and some officials, but raised the hopes of those who see warming global temperatures and rising sea waters as a threat to the planet.
In Australia, hundreds of people joined a sit-in on a busy inner Sydney road before being dragged away by the police.Thirty people were later charged.
“We have tried petitions, lobbying and marches, and now time is running out,” protester Jane Morton said. “We have no choice but to rebel until our government declares a climate and ecological emergency and takes the action that is required to save us.”
Australia’s conservative government has resisted adopting new environmental standards and backed lucrative coal exports.
Thirty people were arrested in New Zealand’s capital, Wellington, after halting traffic by chaining themselves to a bright pink car.
There were also protests in India’s capital, New Delhi, which choking smog from traffic congestion has made one of the most polluted cities in the world.
The epicenter of past actions has been London — the movement’s birthplace.
Extinction Rebellion said it was setting up 12 protest sites near government offices in central London that could block access to parliament and the prime minister’s office.
London police said they had made 135 arrests by early afternoon, and the Extinction Rebellion said it was bracing for hundreds more.
Some protesters banged drums and lay down in the middle of streets during the morning rush hour.
“We’ve got to make radical changes and the government are just not on it — they’re just banging on about Brexit,” said Harriet Thody, 53, a mother of two from Cornwall, as she sat in the road.
Further protests were planned in 60 cities around the world, including Buenos Aires and Cape Town. Two are planned in the US — in New York’s Battery Park a few blocks from Wall Street and in downtown Chicago — and one in Toronto.
Hundreds brought blankets and sleeping bags to one of the main roundabouts in central Berlin, which police expect to be shut down for many days.
Dutch police said they had arrested 50 people after Extinction protesters occupied a bridge outside the Rijksmuseum.
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