Scotland Yard on Tuesday said it was dealing with serious disruptions caused by climate change activists as part of the Extinction Rebellion protests which have blocked roads and traffic across London, resulting in 122 arrests. Most of those arrested since Monday's launch of the weeks-long protests have been detained on suspicion of public order offences, while five people were held on charges of criminal damage at oil giant Shell's London headquarters.
"We need to ensure we are striking the right balance between allowing the right to a peaceful protest, while ensuring disruption to communities is kept to a minimum," said Metropolitan Police Chief Superintendent Colin Wingrove. "At this time, ongoing demonstrations are causing serious disruptions to public transport, local businesses and Londoners who wish to go about their daily business," he said. The Met Police imposed a condition on campaigners to restrict their protests to Marble Arch area of central London to contain some of the disruption.
Extinction Rebellion said it wants to "shut down London" until April 29 in a series of protests and called for "reinforcements" to help maintain a roadblock at Waterloo Bridge in London. Hundreds of protesters tried to hinder police efforts to move them along, including four who glued and chained themselves under a lorry parked on the bridge. Extinction Rebellion says it has three core demands: for the government to "tell the truth about climate change", reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025, and create a citizens' assembly to oversee progress.
Organisers said protests had been held in more than 80 cities across 33 countries. The second day of action included speeches at Parliament Square about how to tackle climate change. In its response, the UK's Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said Britain had cut its emissions by 44 per cent since 1990. "We've asked our independent climate experts for advice on a net zero emissions target and set out plans to transition to low emission vehicles and significantly reduce pollution through our Clean Air Strategy," a BEIS spokesperson said.
(With inputs from agencies.)