I admit that I sat down on the ground to join a crowd of members of Extinction Rebellion that I came across as I was exiting the DLR City Airport station towards the airport. It was a last minute decision to join this protest, as I set out to go back to Sheffield. Before sitting down with my suitcase, a police officer said if I wanted the airport, I could access it down the stairs. So I knew passengers were not being prevented from accessing the airport, but wanted to join this demonstration against the City Airport which is planning a £2bn expansion, doubling flights in the next 15 years (and therefore carbon emissions). This expansion is extremely serious and incompatible with the government’s declaration of a climate emergency, taking the UK in completely the wrong direction as we head rapidly towards irreversible climate and societal breakdown.
I believe the scientific facts concerning climate change have been widely referred to in this court, and that the fact of (largely manmade) climate change has been taken as given by the court. So I will not repeat the scientific evidence of manmade climate change and other ecological crises, although further evidence appears daily.
Since growing up in rural countryside and doing a science degree including some study of ecology, I have always appreciated how we are interdependent with other life forms and the planet. I have been distressed how society has treated the planet and the wonderful variety of life on it, and have campaigned to increase people’s awareness of the harm we are doing, campaigning to stop the perpetuation of such damaging action. In my thirties I put my heart and soul into Green politics, and started up a recycling and re-use project. In my own life I have attempted to live lightly on the Earth in various ways, have signed numerous petitions, written letters, been on demonstrations, become an Earth Protector.
However it has been very depressing to see how little effect any campaigning has had on “Business as Usual,” with our government continuing to subsidise fossil fuel industries more than any other EU country, expanding airports, seeking constant economic growth that is utterly unsustainable, contributing to creating an unliveable planet for future generations, as well as affecting many people now, especially in the global south.
I was therefore glad to hear from XR of the peaceful rebellion against the government for its criminal lack of action on climate change and other ecological emergencies (we pay them our taxes and expect them to look after our welfare, not pursue policies which head us towards irreversible climate breakdown). Surely there is something really wrong with the law, which is criminalising us activists for peaceful protest to help save the planet, whereas those mainly (and knowingly) responsible for destroying it, can continue with immunity. Ecocide law is urgently needed, which is why I am signed up as an Earth Protector.
I have been very distressed about the climate emergency, and my consequent arrests and court hearings have stressed me a lot and affected my health. Consequently I realise I need to discontinue in activism in this way at least for the time being, but feel at least I can look my grandchild in the eye and say I have done what I could.