'Extreme Weather Will Tell This Truth': Climate Protests Erupt In Major Cities
In London and Amsterdam, in Sydney and New York, and in other major cities dotting the map in between, demonstrators crammed main arteries and were arrested by the hundreds Monday as they railed against government inaction on climate change. The protests organized by Extinction Rebellion, an international advocacy group founded last year in a small English town, launched what the organization says will be series of events in more than 60 countries across the world.
"There is no Plan(et) B. The government doesn't have one," the group said in a statement delineating the various nonviolent protests they called for on Monday. "The things we trust in life that we don't even know we trust, they're all incredibly fragile. Extreme weather will tell this truth for us unless the Government does it for us first."
In London, where protesters, many clad in white makeup and red costumes, sought to clog the busy roads around Trafalgar Square and government buildings elsewhere, police said they had already made 276 arrests by Monday evening local time. The throngs of demonstrators disrupted traffic and lofted signs sporting Extinction Rebellion's logo, a simple hourglass set in a circle.
"Parliament declared a climate and environment emergency in April and we've seen absolutely nothing since. So we're here again, and we're going to stay here until they actually do something," Sophie Cowen, an Extinction Rebellion spokesperson, explained to CBS News.
Meanwhile in Amsterdam, where protesters gathered outside the Rijksmuseum, national museum of the Netherlands, police said Monday Monday evening that they removed around 270 people under an emergency order from the city's mayor. Officials say they have arrested about 90 of the protesters, some of whom have already been set free with fines.
And in Berlin, protesters set up a small sea of tents outside the German chancellery building — and found themselves arrested in droves, as well.
On Wall Street in New York City, protesters held a mock funeral march and splashed the Charging Bull, the huge bronze tourist attraction, with a coat of red paint resembling blood. Above the scene, a protester stood atop the bull waving a flag with the group's emblem.
Many of the demonstrators who splayed out at its hooves, like so many gored victims, also were taken away by police.
Demonstrations — and in some cases, arrests — have been reported in Sydney, Paris, Madrid, Vienna, among other cities.
The protests, which are expected to last about two weeks, mark a revival of the unrest that erupted earlier this year, when Extinction Rebellion led protests in London that resulted in days of traffic disruption and more than 1,000 arrests.
The protests have an urgency derived from decades of scientific studies and a spate of recent research about the accelerating effects of climate change, including warming oceans, plummeting biodiversity and the looming risks of extinction for more than 12 percent of the world's plant and animal species.
At the United Nations' Climate Action Summit in New York City last month, teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg grabbed headlines with her challenge to world leaders.
"You all come to us young people for hope," she said at the time. "How dare you? You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words, and yet I'm one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing."
"The situation is extreme," Extinction Rebellion member Katerina Hasapopoulos recently told Joanna Kakissis for NPR, "and we need to match that with extreme tactics. I actually don't think we are extreme enough."
The group says it has three principal demands in the U.K. in particular: the declaration of a "climate and ecological emergency," the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.K. to net zero by 2025, and the creation of a "citizen's assembly" to steer the country's climate policy. [Copyright 2019 NPR]