“Climate change” is not on trial here. If it was, the verdict would be unanimous. The facts are beyond reasonable doubt; the scientific evidence is clear and irrefutable: we are in a climate and ecological emergency of likely catastrophic proportions.
The IPCC Report in autumn 2019 warned that we have just 12 – now 11 – years to bring global temperatures down to a safe level.
Just this week, the IPCC published a special report on the Ocean and Cryosphere – drawn from over 7,000 papers by more than 100 leading climate scientists – which highlighted the need for governments to urgently scale up and accelerate efforts to address the climate emergency and protect the world’s oceans.
Last week, the Red Cross warned that the climate crisis is already leaving two million people a week needing humanitarian aid. The number of people in need of interventions will double in the next three decades – from 108 million a year today to 200 million – if governments fail to act, the global charity said.
Two days ago, Italian authorities closed roads and evacuated homes after experts warned that a 250,000 cubic metre chunk of a glacier on Mont Blanc is in danger of collapse.
We KNOW this is an emergency. Yet look around you: where is the commensurate response from our leaders and our governments? If your house is on fire – and our home, our planet is on fire, from the Arctic to the Amazon – do you carry on business as usual?
One of the reasons I chose to plead guilty at this stage of the legal proceedings against me, is that the defence of necessity is being consistently ruled out in XR activist cases like mine. The prosecutors of the law are insisting that ‘business as usual’ overrides the emergency.
One of the keystones of the justification for imposing the section 14 order on the entirely peaceful protests in April, was to enable business to carry on as usual.
During the April rebellion, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan – whose own authority, the GLA, had declared a climate emergency in December 2018 – said that the protests must stop so that London could return to “business as usual”.
But in the face of unprecedented emergency: when does ‘business as usual’ become complicit? When does ‘business as usual’ become criminal?
An emergency calls for extra-ordinary action.
I’m not denying that I was at Oxford Circus on 17 April as part of the XR rebellion.
I’m not denying that I failed to comply with the condition imposed under Section 14 of the 1986 Public Order Act.
I am an ordinary citizen – who has never been arrested before – who felt compelled to act to wake people up to the terrible danger that we are in, and the necessity to act now.
I invite every single person in this courtroom to ask themselves, as I have:
If not me, then who?
If not now, then when?
As a final note, I would like to acknowledge the conduct of the police, including my arresting officer, which was almost without exception respectful, helpful and non-violent. Despite the fact that I believe my prosecution is without justification, we’re lucky to be able still to exercise our right to peaceful protest and freedom of conscience in this country. I pay tribute to the many activists in other parts of the world who have been imprisoned, hurt or murdered in the cause of climate justice.