Posts Tagged ‘COP26’

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


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Dirty Money Still Rules

Sunday, November 7th, 2021

Nine years ago on Wednesday 7th November 2012, the day that the election of Obama for a second term as President of the US was announced, the Campaign against Climate Change organised a series of protests in London urging him to stand up against the lobbying, dirty money and media lies funded by the Koch brothers and other fossil fuel companies.

Nine years later, after both the end of Obama’s presidency and four years of climate denier Trump, President Biden is still having problems in getting his plans to clean up the environment (and other policies) voted through because of opposition by a Senator who made a fortune from a coal brokerage business in which he owns more than a million dollars in shares and who receives more donations than any other senator from the coal, oil and gas industry.

Campaign Against Climate Change, March 2003

The Campaign against Climate Change was founded in 2001 as a response to President Bush’s rejection of the Kyoto Protocol, and I think I first photographed one of their marches back in March 2002 when they pushed a bed with Bush in bed with the Esso tiger from Esso’s UK HQ to Westminster. It was a long walk and the wheels fell off the bed as it came to Westminster Bridge, but in 2012, after a static protest at the HQ of giant US private company Koch International they chose sturdier wheels in the form of an open-top bus.

Koch Industries is the US’s largest private company and made its fortune through developing improved processes of oil refining, and this remains a major part of its widespread activities. It is owned by the Koch Brothers, who ‘have been a major source for funding disinformation on climate change and in instigating the wave of populist anti-science, anti-regulatory, right-wing extremism associated with the “Tea Party”.’

Both in the US and the UK, governments are hugely influenced by the lobbying of big business, with many politicians accepting large payouts for services rendered, as well as a large PR and lobbying industry aimed at law makers and the media. The truly shameful think about the current case of Owen Paterson is not that he was paid paid £100,000 and broke the rules, but that their are rules that exist which he claims to have kept within to allow such paid lobbying by MPs.

Phil Thornhill at the front of the bus

Although the bus didn’t lose its wheels, it was desperately cold as it went through London on a cold, wet and windy November evening, with Phil Thornhill of the CCC leaning over the top with a large megaphone informing the public about the reason for the protest. It was also extremely bumpy, which together with the low light made photography rather difficult, and most of the time I was too busy holding tight to the rail across the top of the seats to take pictures.

Finally after its journey through the rush-hour streets the bus arrived at the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square and we all alighted. At first police tried to push the protesters into a penned area in a dark corner of the square where it would be neither heard nor seen. The protesters sensibly refused and after some discussion were allowed to protest as usual in front of the locked front gates – protected outside by a thin line of police, and inside the tall fence by wandering armed officers.

Barach Obama with David Koch on the top of the bus

Protests such as this of course had no effect on Obama’s business-friendly administration, while Trump made climate denial core policy of his tweets. But these and other protests did raise awareness of the catastrophe the world is facing. Many of us had been aware of the coming crisis for many years – at least since the 1980s, though there were warnings from some scientists years earlier, but the wider public, often misinformed by the media was largely ignorant.

Without protests such as this around the world, it seems unlikely that their would have been an agreement reached at COP 21 in Paris in 2015, and since then, helped by the publicity given to Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough, not to mention various extreme climate events around the world, there is now a wide consensus that something needs to be done, and done urgently. But thanks to the huge continued efforts of big business in fossil fuels the politicians are still locked into doing too little too late.

More pictures: Stop Fossil Fuel Dirty Money takeover of US.


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Extinction Rebellion Climate Protest 2018

Sunday, October 31st, 2021

Protesters in Parliament Square on 31st October 2018 heard speeches from climate activists including Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg, campaigner Donnachadh McCarthy, Labour MP Clive Lewis, economist and Green MEP Molly Scott Cato, before making a ‘Declaration of Rebellion’ against the British Government for its criminal inaction in the face of climate change catastrophe and ecological collapse.

Three years ago British campaigners were particularly inflamed by the almost total lack of any measures in the budget to meet the impending catastrophic climate change, and three years later we can say the same about last week’s budget. Sunak still seems to be intent on growth and business as usual, encouraging road building and air travel and there was little or no mention of any green initiatives, something of a pre-COP26 sabotage of stated government policies.

Reading the Declaration of Rebellion

But as Thunberg and others made clear, we have seen some rhetoric but totally inadequate action so far to meet the challenge and the Extinction Rebellion protest made this clear in its ‘Declaration of Rebellion’ against the British Government for its criminal inaction in the face of climate change catastrophe and ecological collapse.

Schoolkids get it – and it led to Greta’s protest outside the Swedish Parliament which has inspired many around the world. Even some of our media are beginning to get it, but governments around the world, including our own seem reluctant to actually make the kind of changes that are needed. And although some MPs speak out, neither Labour nor Conservative parties have embraced the kind of policies that are necessary to avert mass extinction.

Its a shame that many on the left have devoted rather more energy to criticising the actions taken by Extinction Rebellion rather than getting out and doing something positive, with few others organising protests and direct actions. XR have done a lot to raise public awareness and the vicious reaction to their protests with the government pushing prosecutions against them and a draconian Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill currently in its final stages in Parliament , and threats to rewrite the Human Rights Act and to hobble judges have shown the true colour of our Tory government as we move towards a police state.

After reciting the ‘Declaration of Rebellion’ the protesters moved onto the road and sat down to block it and continue the rally with songs, poems and speeches, including by Caroline Lucas MP and George Monbiot. There were several votes during the sit-down when protesters were asked if they wished to leave the roadway as police were threatening to arrest them which resulted in a near-unanimous show of hands in favour of remaining.

As George Monbiot finished some of the protesters began to leave, and several activists stood up to encourage people to stay behind on the road and be arrested, and several groups continued the protest, including one circle with protesters linking arms including Donnachadh McCarthy and George Monbiot. Police surrounded the group, and then arrested the man to McCarthy’s left, coming back a few minutes later to take McCarthy away – and he later published an account of what appeared to be a symposium on climate change he conducted in the police van. Monbiot shortly after got up and left, apologising to those remaining that he needed to collect his children from school.

The arrests continued slowly, and there was still a group on one side of the road who had been locked together for some hours who police seemed to be largely ignoring and were still there when I left, along with others still sitting on the road.

I have low expectations for next week’s COP 26. We will get more promises to add to those which have already not been kept and not the real shift into action that the world desperately needs. Of course I’d be delighted to be proved wrong. But this side of a revolution I think it unlikely that the ultra-rich can be persuaded to change their ways.

Many more pictures at:
Extinction Rebellion roadblock
Extinction Rebellion rally

Students Lead The Way 27 Sept 2019

Monday, September 27th, 2021

Two years ago school students and supporters were in Parliament Square campaigning at the end of a week of Global Climate actions and the start of a worldwide General Strike for climate justice and against extinction.

We had another Global Climate Strike last Friday (24th Sept 2021) though I was unable to photograph it for pressing family reasons, but although we now hear much more about the terrifying consequences of carbon emissions increasing global temperatures and have begun to feel them, there has been relatively little action. The UK government has learnt to talk a little of the talk, but is still pressing ahead with highly environmentally destructive plans – supporting new oil, gas and coal fields, subsidising destructive wood-burning and backing projects such as HS2 and Heathrow expansion.

It is hardly a good record for a government that is urging others do more, whether by the Prime Minister speaking at the UN or other diplomatic meetings leading up to COP26 in Glasgow. “Do as I say not as I do” is seldom a productive approach. Like other such meetings it seems almost certain to end with too little and too late.

The schoolkids get it – they’ve heard and understood the message from Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough. The scientists get it and have published reports which make it clear. Even some politicians across the parties get it, but not those in ministerial offices and Downing St. The real problem is that any effective policies would threaten the status quo which they have been put in charge to protect. They want business as usual, which is exactly what has got us in this mess.

I haven’t entirely abandoned hope, though it is getting very thin, rather like the hope of a revolution or a second coming, which is now about what would be needed to avert disaster. Things are certain to get very much worse than at present, perhaps enough to force our leaders to see sense before it is entirely too late, though I think it unlikely I will live long enough to see it.

Environmental lawyer Farhana Yamin, arrested for protesting against Shell with Extinction Rebellion

It wasn’t just the schoolkids who were on the streets in 2019. Later in the day I went with some of them to Trafalgar Square where artists, designers, musicians, cultural workers and others were talking about their own creative individual and collective responses to the climate emergency in a ‘Climate Rally for the Imagination.’

Although many of these were inspiring I left feeling depressed as it all seemed so divorced from our mainstream culture, which is dominated by the billionaire owned press and major TV stations which largely take their lead from those same publications. It would take a major miracle for Murdoch to convert from protecting his profits to protecting the earth, but that’s the kind of change we need for survival.

Climate Rally for the Imagination
Students Strike for climate justice


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