Posts Tagged ‘climate emergency’

Five Bridges: XR – 17 Nov 2018

Wednesday, November 17th, 2021

COP26 was in some respects a great disappointment, or rather would have been had we expected very much to arise out of it. But there were some advances, and just a slight glimmer of hope that it may prompt a little more progress in our efforts to save our future on the planet. But that it happened at all and in the way it did is very much down to the efforts of people on the street to raise awareness of the realities of climate change.

Without groups that have been campaigning for years we would have no hope at all, and whatever people think about some of the policies of Extinction Rebellion, it has been one of the more effective movements in bringing the message to the attention of the media, politicians and the public.

Even in the unfortunately toned down words of the COP26 final resolution, the message from the banner in the assembly at the top of this post is now clear: ‘FOSSIL FUEL ERA OVER’ though it still remains to be seen if it can be brought to an end fast enough for us to survive.

On Saturday 17th November 2018, Extinction Rebellion rebels managed to block five of the bridges in central London: Lambeth, Westminster, Waterloo, Blackfriars and Southwark. It was an ambitious project that brought much of London’s traffic to a standstill and gauranteed extensive media coverage. You can march 50,000 through London and it won’t merit a mention on the BBC unless windows are broken or police injured – but this was something that could not be ignored, and despite the interests of the billionaire media owners, at least some journalists began asking the right questions and writing the right answers.

I tried to photograph events on as many of the bridges as possible, though with no buses able to run in central London this involved rather a lot of walking. In the end I failed to make it to Lambeth Bridge, where some of the more robust actions by police against the protesters took place.

Here’s my description of XR from one of the three posts I made about them that day:

Extinction Rebellion is a non-violent rebellion against the British government for its criminal inaction in the face of the climate change catastrophe and ecological collapse which is currently on course to make human life extinct. They demand the government tell the truth about the climate emergency, reverse their inconsistent policies and work to communicate and educate everyone, that they bring in legally binding policies to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and reduce our consumption of all resources, with a national Citizen’s Assembly to oversee the changes and create a real democracy.

http://mylondondiary.co.uk/2018/11/nov.htm#westminster

More protests will be needed around the world to make politicians do what needs to be done – and I was photographing Extinction Rebellion in London last Saturday when they protested in the annual Lord Mayor’s Show.


My day was made busier as there was another unrelated event taking place that I also wanted to photograph, a Unity against Fascism and Racism march from the BBC to a rally in Whitehall calling for unity against the rising threat of Islamophobia and Antisemitism by far-right groups in the UK, with a level of support for fascism not seen since the 1930s. I missed the start but spent around half an hour taking pictures as it came down Regent St.


More on all these and more pictures on My London Diary:

Extinction Rebellion Bridge blockade starts
Extinction Rebellion: Southwark, Blackfriars, Waterloo
Extinction Rebellion form Citizens’ Assembly

Unity Against Fascism and Racism


FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis

London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


XR Rebellion – Day 3

Friday, October 9th, 2020

On 9th October 2019 I was with Extinction Rebellion outside the Royal Courts of Justice. Perhaps not surprisingly, this protest organised by Lawyers for XR had a rather different feel to most other XR events. The ‘All Rise for Climate Justice’ event stressed the need for a law against ecocide to protect the planet.

Rather a lot of people, many of them lawyers and including some distinguished name, were crammed into the relatively small area of pavement in front of the courts. This made it a difficult event to cover as it was hard to move around much without being obtrusive.

The event launched the ‘Lawyers Declaration of Rebellion’ and copies of it were handed out rolled up an tied with pink ribbon in the traditional manner used for the bundles of papers taken into court by defence barristers. Pink ribbons are now used to distinguish briefs from private citizens from those from the Crown which are tied with white ribbon.

As the event at the Royal Courts of Justice ended I left quickly and rushed down to Victoria St where Axe Drax were protesting outside the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) calling for an end to the subsidies given to fossil fuels and biomass which produce climate destroying carbon dioxide. They called for the closure of Drax power station which burns wood pellets and coal, pointing out the absurdity of paying them £2 million a day in ‘renewable’ subsidies taken from our electricity bills as thepower station is the greatest single producer of carbon dioxide in the UK.

Usually I would have taken a bus for the journey, but the centre of London was still blocked to traffic and I had to walk – with a little running now and then – covering the mile and a half in 15 minutes. Even so I arrived halfway through the protest, but was pleased to be in time to hear Mayer Hillman, 88 year old Senior Fellow Emeritus at the Policy Studies Institute and a leading Green campaigner for many years speaking.

After that protest ended I walked around the other sites still occupied by XR. Although police were continuing to force them off some locations, trashing some tents and making more arrests, there was still no traffic in key locations and workshops and other events continued, with protesters still in fine spirits and something of a festival atmosphere. It isn’t every day that you get your beard pulled (gently) by a giant wallaby.

XR were not the only protesters in Trafalgar Square, and I was also able to cover a protest by Bangladeshi students demanding an end to violence on campus in Bangladesh universities after the beating to death of student Abrar Fahad by leaders of the Bangladesh Chhatra League, the student wing of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League, at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology on 7 Oct 2019.

It was another long day for me as I then went on to meet friends at the launch of Paul Trevor’s book Once Upon a Time in Brick Lane‘, before wandering down Brick Lane and taking a few photographs on my way to the tube. It was around 2am before I finished processing and filing my pictures for the day, and I needed to take the next day off to have a rest.

Many more pictures on My London Diary:

Brick Lane Night
Bangladeshi students protest campus violence
Extinction Rebellion Day 3
Biofuel Watch – Axe Drax at BEIS
All Rise For Climate Justice


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Murdoch Tell The Truth

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020

In October Extinction Rebellion were subject to an illegal ban by the Metropolitan Police on gatherings of more than two people across London – and although they had mounted a legal challenge things in the courts tend to move slowly, and it was only in November that the court ruled against the police.

The police had obviously been subjected to a great deal of political pressure from Government ministers and doubtless also from the Prime Minister to do something to end XR’s Autumn protests which had been remarkably successful in blocking traffic in central Westminster but more importantly in bringing home to people across the country the existential threat posed by climate change and the requirement for drastic and urgent action to try to prevent species extinction.

I imagine the police had been told to take action, legal or not, to bring the protest to an end, as despite the huge power of our billionaire-owned press and government dominated media the message was beginning to get through that ‘business as usual’ was no longer an option. We need to change the system dramatically to survive.

Our newspapers are almost entirely owned and controlled by a handful of billionaires, the most prominent of them being Rupert Murdoch, with The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun (as well as the Times Literary Supplement and a part-share in the Press Association.) Wikipedia also lists a dozen UK radio stations, as well of course many other news organisations and other corporations in Australia, the US and internationally owned by his mass media company News Corp, including the Wall Street Journal.

Murdoch papers claim to have been the major influence behind UK elections since the 1990’s when The Sun claimed it was ‘The Sun Wot Won It‘ for John Major against Neil Kinnock, and making similar claims for all more recent elections. And certainly the press and broadcast media including but not only Murdoch’s papers, have been very important in all recent political campaigns – including the election of Keir Starmer as leader of the Labour party. Even such nominally independent bodies as the BBC have their coverage highly influenced by the attitudes taken by the press.

Murdoch through his media outlets has consistently downplayed and denied climate change and its effects – and even his son James during the recent bush fires in Australia expressed his frustration at the ongoing climate crisis denial in News Corp and Fox News’ coverage of the fires. Murdoch has been a powerful influencer both on governments and public opinion against the need to cut our reliance on coal and fossil fuels and other measures to needed to drastically reduce carbon emissions.

The protest at Murdoch’s News Corp HQ at London Bridge demanding that his papers tell the truth about the climate crisis had of course been planned months or weeks in advance of the police protest ban. But because the area in front of the office where the protest took place is private property it was not covered by the Section 14 ban and was thus legal.

More at XR demands Murdoch tell the truth.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Trafalgar Square protests

Saturday, April 4th, 2020
Ian Hodson, BFAWU President

Back on Saturday 12th October there were two protests taking place in Trafalgar Square and it was raining. One was by trade unionists supporting Extinction Rebellion and the school climate strikers, and there was a powerful speech from Ian Hodson, National President of the Baker’s Union BFAWU.  His union is one of the older and smaller unions in the TUC, founded in 1847 in Manchester though it has changed its name a couple of times.

The BFAWU is a union that still fights actively for its members and isn’t afraid to take on large organisations, including McDonald’s, Burger King, and KFC in its campaign to unionise and improve pay and conditions for fast food workers.

The rain came on rather more heavily, and I kept my cameras in my camera bag or under my coat, and took rather fewer pictures than I would otherwise. Working in wet conditions is still rather a pain, even though some cameras and some lenses are ‘weatherproof’ this doesn’t really keep them going in the rain.

The 3million organisation representing the three million EU citizens who were living in the UK had come prepared, wearing blue and yellow plastic rain capes with a sticker on them also in the colours of the EU flag and the message ‘I am not a bargaining chip’.

They had come to protest at the broken promise made by the Vote Leave campaign, which had clearly stated that EU Citizens currently living in the UK would “automatically be granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK” in the event of Brexit. Instead we have a complex scheme of applications, with many who have applied for leave to remain having their applications rejected. Some who have lived here for over 50 years, and have children who are UK citizens may face deportation.

Together they tore up copies of the promise, though the light had dropped and the pictures I took on a longer lens were rather blurred by their motion – I hadn’t got my camera set to a high enough ISO.

I still can’t decide which is the best way to work with my digital cameras when lighting conditions are likely to change. The different cameras I use – and on this occasion it was an Olympus OMD M5 II and a Fuji XT-1 – have slightly differing implementation of auto-ISO, which would seem to be a good answer, but in practice can mean that you are too often working at full aperture.

Probably the answer is to work in manual mode, setting both aperture and shutter speed when using auto-ISO, but it is then very easy to find that either you have reached your maximum ISO set and the camera then underexposes everything, or, even worse, you are at the minimum ISO in your range and all your images are overexposed with burnt out highlights.

More on both protests:

Brexit unfair for EU citizens
Trade Unionists join the Rebellion


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Climate Rally for the Imagination

Wednesday, March 11th, 2020

Climate Rally for the Imagination was organised for artists, designers, musicians, cultural workers and leaders to propose creative individual and collective responses to the climate emergency.

There were some heavy showers before the event began, with water on the paving giving reflections, which was good, but also getting on cameras and lenses which wasn’t.

But fortunately it stopped for a while as the event got going, as some of those taking part did look a little wet and bedraggled, probably including this photographer.

There were some interesting performances, including from folk singer Sam Lee, and some interesting presentations from people working with arts-based projects as well as at least one that seemed to me to be away with the fairies. But Extinction Rebellion has a very wide range of supporters.

Several people read from their contributions to the book ‘Letters to the Earth’ and perhaps the event became a little too much like a book promotion. But there were a number of contributions from others, about the protests over BP sponsorship of museums and culture, with a student involved speaking about the letter threatening a boycott of the Royal Shakespeare Company by school climate strikers which got the company to drop BP in days.

Another speaker had written to the Arts Council over its failure to recognise the vital importance of combating climate change through the activities it sponsors, while architect Michael Pawlyn gave a challenging analysis of current architectural practices and their contribution to climate change, spressing the newd for a new ‘regenerative architecture’.

Among those contributing to the book was environmental lawyer Farhana Yamin, arrested for protesting against Shell with Extinction Rebellion in April.

Climate Rally for the Imagination

XR Youth International

Saturday, February 29th, 2020

I had hurried back to central London to photograph an event in Trafalgar Square by Extinction Rebellion Youth International  but I had no idea what they intended to do, and I walked a couple of times around the square and saw no sign of them.

It isn’t unusual to find an event that has been posted on the Internet but doesn’t actually take place. People sometimes have an idea, set up an event on Facebook or some other listing site, then either forget about it or give up when they have failed to persuade anyone else to join them and don’t bother to post that it isn’t happening. And sometimes dates or times or locations are changed and unless you check you will be at the wrong place or at the wrong time. And some organisations can be relied on almost always to turn up late.

So I’d more or less given up on XR Youth and was thinking about photographing a couple of other things I’d seen on my way to the square when I saw a group walking into the middle of the square, some of them holding posters and I walked across and began taking pictures

They formed a large circle in the centre of the square and then sat down in silence facing outwards. And that appeared to be it, though someone did at some point make a short statement. I walked around the circle and took pictures. Some had face paint, quite a few had small XR symbols on their clothes or faces and one held up an XR flag. It seemed a very low-key protest and certainly attracted relatively little attention from the tourists who were wandering around.

There was a certain element of defiance in it. The bylaws actually prohibit protests in Trafalgar Square unless they have prior permission, but this one apparently went unnoticed by the ‘Heritage Wardens’ whose role is to enforce the regulations. They probably thought it was just another group of tourists sitting down to eat their sandwiches. Perhaps their photographs and mine, published on the web, are more important in gaining attention than the event itself.

As a static protest it would not have been illegal on the North Terrace up the steps in front of the National Gallery, which is still legally a part of the public highway, though a part that has now been pedestrianised for some years.

But rather curiously the rest of the square is the property of the Greater London authority, with bylaws set by the Mayor of London. It’s actually an offence to take photographs there, though tourists are seldom if ever prevented from doing so. And an outcry by my union and other bodies representing news photographers means that those of us with Press cards are allowed to use our cameras.

More at XR Youth International.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Global Climate Strike in Whitehall

Monday, February 24th, 2020

I arrived back in central London to find Climate Strike protesters sitting down and blocking Whitehall and police threatening them with arrest, with several people being led away to waiting police vans.

There weren’t a huge number of protesters around, but soon they were joined by a large crowd of mainly school students who had marched up from Parliament Square.

Seeing a line of police across Whitehall they turned right down Horseguards Ave, going up Whitehall Court into Whitehall Place. Police formed a line across the road at the junction with Northumberland Ave and the students sat down on the road.

They had a few short speeches and chanted slogans for some time here, with the police trying for some reason to get them to get up and move. I couldn’t see why the police wanted them to move, as there is little traffic along this road and it was rather effectively keeping the students out of the way, but when the police began indicating they would make arrests, the crowd got up and moved away – to go back to Whitehall, a much more important route and sit down there to continue to block traffic.

By now I’d had enough of wandering around Whitehall, and it was looking likely that little more would take place, so I decided to leave them and go to another protest elsewhere.

More pictures: Global Climate Strike Protest continues

Earth Day

Friday, February 21st, 2020

There was a huge turnout for the Global Climate Strike on Earth Day, with many organised groups from schools attending, and an incredible range of hand-made posters.

Way down Millbank there was a lorry where speakers and groups were performing, but the street was so crowded it was hard to get through to it. At one point I went down a side street and made my way forward a block to reach the front.

Once I’d photographed the people at the front of the crowd I slowly made my way back through the crowd, photographing groups of people with placards. The crowd was tightly packed and I often had to squeeze through, but people moved to let me through, sometimes even before I had asked. Getting enough space between me and those I wanted to photograph was however often difficult. Most of these pictures were made with the Fuji XT1 and the Fuji 10-24mm zoom, mainly at or close to its widest setting, equivalent to 15mm on full-frame.

Eventually I was free of the close-packed crowd, but there were still a large number of protesters in front of Parliament and in Parliament Square.

Although the main rally was in the morning, other groups were also meeting in London, some coming to Westminster later, and I left to photograph some of these.

Global Climate Strike Rally


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Zero Time for Action

Monday, January 27th, 2020

I’d walked halfway up the hill to Blackheath where South East London Extinction Rebellion were holding their two day South East London Rebel Rising festival, but had to rush off and run back downhill to catch a train back to the centre of London to cover events there. But I was able to return without having to climb the hill again, taking a train to Blackheath station which is at the top of the hill, and just a short walk to at Blackheath Lincoln Field where the Greenwich Observatory Die-In was going to start.

I arrived just in time as the march to the observatory was about to set off, and was able to photograph them as they walked across the common and into Greenwich Park.

It wasn’t a huge group, which was just as well as they pretty well filled the space in front of the Royal Observatory which isn’t very large and a triangular area with very busy paths along two side, full of tourists going to see London’s finest view from the terrace just past the observatory or to visit the observatory. This is now a museum for tourists with a large meridian marker in the ground where people like to photograph themselves with a foot in each hemisphere (and I admit I’ve done so in the distant past.)

Back when I first visited the observatory it was free, but now it costs £16 for an adult ticket (cheaper if you book online.) When they started to charge for entry you could walk into the yard and photograph yourself on the meridian marker for free, but now you have to pay to get through the gate. Though there is a much older marker on the footpath just below if you want to save money.

Greenwich advertises itself as the home of Greenwich Mean Time, and Extinction Rebellion chose the venue to point out that we are running out of time and need to take urgent action now to avoid mass extinction. Some of the protesters had ‘clock faces’ painted on their faces or carried clock posters.

While most of those present lay down for a ‘die-in’, others handed out leaflets and used a megaphone to speak to the tourists wandering past, some of whom applauded the action, while others either ignored it or just looked confused.

It was another event where my fish-eye lens came in useful, though even it wasn’t quite wide enough to take in the whole scene as I wanted. The top picture on this post shows a fisheye view, slightly cropped at top and bottom, and it couldn’t quite let me take the whole scene I wanted. I had to angle the lens down to get in the foreground banner as I couldn’t move further back and you can see a little cut-off at both top corners after a little attempt at correcting the verticals. Photoshop could of course have generated a little sky at the left and tree at right to fill the gap but I decided that would be cheating.

You can see some other pictures made both with the fisheye and, like that above this paragraph made with a rectilinear ultrawide lens – the 10-24mm Fuji zoom at 15mm equivalent focal length – on My London Diary, along with others made at longer focal lengths.

Rebel Rising Royal Observatory Die-In

March to the common

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020
The banner ‘Are We The Last Generation blocks the main road for the march to take place

Lewisham Council’s web site records that Blackheath’s common has played host to more than its share of:

  • rebel gatherings
  • military encampments and exercises
  • royal meetings
  • religious festivals
  • sports
  • fairs
  • circuses

and a host of other activities.

And it goes on to list some of them, including Danish invaders in 1011, Wat Tylers anti-poll tax rebels in 1381, Jack Cade’s rebel yeomen in 1450, rebel Cornishmen in 1497 and John Wesley who preached there.

2009 Climate Camp general meeting at Blackheath

It fails to mention the chartists and the suffragettes who met their, or the Climate Camp with whom I travelled there in 2009, recorded their setting up and later returned to photograph.

Clearly it is an area that has a strong association with rebels over the years and so it was highly appropriate that South East London Extinction Rebellion chose it for the location of their two-day festival  on Global Climate Change.

I went to photograph their march from Greenwich to the festival site, and almost had to leave before it began, as the samba band which was to play a major role in bringin it to the notice of people in Greenwich was around an hour late in arriving.

I stayed with the marchers as they blocked the main streets of Greenwich and made their way up into Greenwich Park, climbing with them most of the way to the top of the hill before I had to leave and run downhill to catch a train back to central London and the next event I wanted to cover.

XR Rebel Rising March to the Common


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.