Celebrity supporters of the Extinction Rebellion movement against climate change
Seven days after they blocked four transport locations in London, climate change protesters are still quietly occupying key sites across the capital.
Large numbers and an overwhelmingly peaceful, good-natured atmosphere have prevailed, with festival-like scenes and polite, sometimes apologetic civil disobedience the hallmark of their action.
Extinction Rebellion (XR) has been criticised for causing “miserable disruption” to Londoners by Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, whose force has made over 750 arrests.
With the group announcing it will switch tactics to focus on achieving its political aims, here are some of the big names that have thrown their support behind the grassroots movement.
Dame Emma Thompson
She rallied supporters from the top of a pink boat blocking London’s busiest shopping street, and declared “our planet is in serious trouble”.
Prompting cheers, she said: “We are here in this little island of sanity and it makes me so happy to be able to join you all and to add my voice to the young people here who have inspired a whole new movement.”
But the Love Actually star faced accusations of hypocrisy after flying in from the United States.
A representative of Dame Emma said she needed to take the 5,400-mile flight home to London after working in Los Angeles.
Dr Rowan Williams
The former archbishop of Canterbury backed the movement ahead of the disruption, and spoke at an XR faith event where prayers were held for demonstrators.
In a video message calling for “wide deep support” for the movement, he said: “It’s not at all surprising that people in this urgent situation feel they have got to take non violent direct action. They’ve got to find a way of putting the case for the human race before those in power.”
The Northern Lights author is one of a hundred academics, authors and campaigners who signed an open letter endorsing the movement in December.
The open letter reads: “We further call on concerned global citizens to rise up and organise against current complacency in their particular contexts, including indigenous people’s rights advocacy, decolonisation and reparatory justice – so joining the global movement that’s now rebelling against extinction (eg Extinction Rebellion in the UK).”
Atwood, who has addressed climate change in several of her novels, revealed her enthusiasm for the movement on Twitter.
Referencing novels including Oryx And Crake and Year Of The Flood, the Canadian author tweeted about XR: “Yes! The #GodsGardeners (active wing) are finally here! #maddaddam is mad! Glueing myself to things in spirit.”
The 16-year-old Swedish activist, who inspired the climate change school strikes, is expected to address XR protesters on Easter Sunday.
She has already met Pope Francis and spoken at the European Parliament, and is due to meet senior British politicians next week.
She is travelling to London by train after addressing thousands of people at rally in Rome, and has called XR “one of the most important and hopeful movements of our time”.
The Olympic gold medallist joined protests in London at the weekend after demonstrating in Nottingham.
He said he was putting aside his final university assignments to take part because “I don’t think there is anything more meaningful that I could be doing in my life right now”.
The 39-year-old canoeist, who was prepared to risk arrest at Waterloo Bridge on Saturday, added: He added: “I feel like it is really really tough to disrupt people’s lives like this, but this is really important because I believe the disruption that will come down the line if we do not declare a climate emergency and do not tackle this situation of climate change, it will just dwarf any inconvenience here today.”
The Welsh singer has not attended any of this week’s demonstrations, but said she would be joining in the future.
She tweeted: “I’ll be with you for the next one. I wanted to watch for a while, sorry not super brave, but having seen how peaceful,creative, purposeful and family friendly your protest was I will join you next time. Thank you for your giving. Xx”.
The group welcomed her support and said it was not too late to join protesters “who are still rebelling for life”.
The American linguist, philosopher and writer signed up to the open letter in December and more recently outlined his support with a statement.
He said: “The activists of Extinction Rebellion are leading the way in confronting this immense challenge, with courage and integrity, an achievement of historic significance that must be amplified with urgency.”
Packham has addressed supporters in front of same pink boat boarded by Dame Emma, and is expected to visit Waterloo Bridge on Sunday.
Speaking at Oxford Circus on Wednesday, the TV presenter and naturalist said: “I believe the world’s leaders are not acting urgently enough to avert a climate catastrophe.
“As long as it is peaceful and democratic then they can count on my support.”
Another signatory to the open letter in December, the model recently spoke to Sir David Attenborough about his new Netflix show Our Planet.