Scottish members of Extinction Rebellion, an environmental socio-political movement, have set up a campsite in the grounds of the Scottish parliament calling on the government to do more to tackle climate change. These protests come in response to the climate bill being debated this week by Scottish parliament, aiming to put pressure on the government to ensure what’s decided is radical enough. The environmental campaigners say that they will remain on the site for five days, whilst running various non-violent direct actions around Edinburgh and workshops at the Parliament camp. Reports of multiple arrests in relation to this action have come through; Edinburgh News claims the police have arrested one protestor after two people glued themselves to the ground in an attempt to block the entrance to the parliament buildings, and 13 people were charged following a road block in the city centre on Monday.
Laura McGlynn, an Extinction Rebellion activist interviewed by the BBC, spoke about the groups motivations:
“Extinction Rebellion Scotland have decided to put up this camp outside of the Scottish Parliament to try to put pressure on the government to give us the best possible climate bill. Currently the climate bill they are considering is based on the Committee on Climate Change report, which at best gives us a 50% chance of staying below 1.5C.”
In direct response to the climate bill currently proposed which ensures Scotland to be carbon neutral by 2045 she argued, “2045 is ecocide. We’re already seeing the effects of climate change, people are already dying, we’re already seeing catastrophic storms, wildfire, bleaching of coral reefs, the ocean is danger.”
Another protestor taking part in the road block, 61 year old Evie interviewed by Edinburgh live said, “I’m a granny and I’m here because of my grandchildren. When I wonder what their lives will be like if we don’t stop using fossil fuels. If we don’t stop before 2025, we are lost. It’s going to be so dreadful.”
It seems great concern sits amongst the protestors, worried about the impact climate change will have on human life and livelihoods. This action comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declared a climate emergency earlier this year, but supporting a climate bill to ensure zero carbon is achieved by 2045 highlights the importance of symbolic actions needing to materialize into genuine change. With the IPCC report claiming we have 12 years to radically reduce are carbon emissions to avoid dangerous climate change, taking 26 years to do so is simply not good enough.
Extinction Rebellion are a relatively new movement, emerging publicly in November 2018 when they blocked all five major bridges in London. They grew in popularity and internationally, peaking attention during ‘International Rebellion Week’ occupying central areas in London for two weeks. Focusing primarily on NVDA (non-violent direct action) the group seems to be uniting people from all walks of life through a shared fear of the oncoming climate breakdown and governments inaction in response. A common slogan of Extinction Rebellion illustrates this: ‘When Hope Dies, Action Begins.’
Alongside the school strikes for climate, a real public demand for government action on climate change seems to be growing. The actions in Edinburgh going on this week are aiming to influence the currently inadequate climate bill to be passed by parliament. Recognizing the danger to human life and wellbeing climate change poses, and understanding the urgency of the situation; it seems it would be in Scotland’s best interests if these climate activists were to succeed. Whilst applauding the government for bringing climate change onto the agenda, and Sturgeon for declaring a climate emergency – in this race, winning slowly is the same as losing.
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