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What I Learned – Goldman Sachs, Bank of England and Treasury targeted by climate activists in London
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LONDON (Reuters) – More than 300 environmental activists sowed chaos through London’s financial district on Thursday, gluing themselves to the stock exchange and blocking roads outside the Bank of England and major banks such as Goldman Sachs.
The Extinction Rebellion group has spent 11 days disrupting London in a bid to force Britain to act to help avert what they cast as a climate cataclysm.
On Thursday, they turned their attention to London’s financial institutions and the City – home to more international banks than any other and the global center for foreign exchange trading.
In streets beside the Bank of England, around 20 activists blocked the road singing Bob Marley’s “One Love”. Police removed one woman who glued her breasts to the road outside Goldman Sachs European headquarters on Fleet Street.
Lying on the ground outside Goldman, one activist held a placard saying “No jobs on a dead planet” while others chanted: “What do we want? Climate justice. When do we want it? Now.”
In Canary Wharf, five protesters from the group climbed aboard a train at the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) station and unfurled a banner which read: “Business as usual = Death”. One glued herself to a train.
“I’m here because I have a belief that there is something greater than us, which tells me that we don’t own this earth,” said Phil Kingston, a retired parole officer who celebrated his 83rd birthday by climbing on top of the train during rush hour.
“The more we take, the less there is for future generations,” he said.
At the London Stock Exchange’s headquarters, seven protesters dressed in black suits and red ties were blocking the revolving doors of the building. They held signs reading “Tell the truth” and “You can’t eat money”.
The activists also held protests outside other banks including Rothschild, Nomura, Deutsche Bank. Eight protesters glued themselves together with their arms around the handrail to the Treasury, according to a Reuters photographer at the scene.
With largely peaceful stunts – such as blocking some of London’s most iconic locations, smashing a door at the Shell building and shocking lawmakers with a semi-nude protest in parliament – the group has garnered massive publicity.
Extinction Rebellion advocates non-violent civil disobedience to force governments to reduce carbon emissions and avert what it says is a global climate crisis that will bring starvation, floods, wildfires and social collapse.
Police said 1,130 arrests had been made since the main protests began. The final day of protests is focusing on the international financial sector, which has made London its home.
“So we’re here today to highlight that there are people and businesses trading in ecological destruction in that building behind us,” Adam Woodhall, a 48-year-old spokesman for the group, said outside the London Stock Exchange.
“We want the people in this building and around the world that in the financial industry to understand the impact that they are having on our futures. They are trading and making money in our futures.”
The group is demanding the government declare a climate and ecological emergency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025 and create a citizen’s assembly of members of the public to lead on decisions to address climate change.
In 2017, total United Kingdom greenhouse gas emissions were 43 percent lower than in 1990 and 2.6 percent lower than 2016, according to government statistics.
The group said they would end their protests in London on Thursday and would end their blockades at Parliament Square and Marble Arch.
However, they promised more protests in the future, saying direct action was the only way to bring the issue to public attention.
Reporting by Helena Williams, Emily Roe, Simon Dawson, Peter Nicholls, Sinead Cruise, Lawrence White; Writing by Andrew MacAskill; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Alison Williams