Gove to meet climate protesters after demonstrations in London

Climate campaigners who brought 10 days of disruption to central London are to meet Environment Secretary Michael Gove on Tuesday to discuss their concerns.

Members of Extinction Rebellion will call on Mr Gove to back their demands to declare a climate emergency and commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2025.

The group will also meet with London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Monday and shadow chancellor John McDonnell on Tuesday.

Extinction Rebellion protests
Environment Secretary Michael Gove attended a speech by teenage climate campaigner Greta Thunberg in Parliament (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

A member of Extinction Rebellion’s political strategy team, 22-year-old Sam Knights, said: “The legacy of our political leaders will stand or fall by what they do now.

“Either they take steps to give our children the future they deserve or they do nothing. They must respond to the climate and ecological emergency with the clarity and urgency our children demand.

“In order to protect life on earth, the UK Government must begin to tell the truth. The British people need to know the reality of what we face.

“It is time to declare a climate and ecological emergency and to commit to reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. The current political system is not capable of implementing such fundamental changes to the way we live. That is why we need the creation of a national Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.”

During the campaign of street protests and roadblocks which saw 1,130 arrests over Easter, Mr Gove said that it was “appropriate” for Extinction Rebellion to raise awareness of climate issues, but said some of their tactics were “over the top”.

Extinction Rebellion protests
Extinction Rebellion protesters outside the Treasury Office in London (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

He made clear then that he was ready to meet the protesters, saying: “The point’s been made, let’s now have a serious conversation collectively about how we deal with this situation.”

And he attended a meeting in Parliament with 16-year-old Swedish protester Greta Thunberg, the inspiration for the global School Strike for Climate, telling her he felt “a sense of responsibility and guilt” because his generation had not done enough to deal with the issue.

“The time to act is now, the challenge could not be clearer, Greta you have been heard,” Mr Gove told the teenager.

Extinction Rebellion said that this week’s meeting was “Michael Gove’s opportunity to show he’s ready to act on the climate and ecological emergency”.

Although the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs described the meeting as “private”, the campaigners said they would film it and make the footage public.

Mr Khan suffered a backlash on social media after declaring that London should return to “business as usual” after the protests.

Banners were produced with the slogan: Business as Usual = Death.

Writing for Mirror Online ahead of Monday’s meeting, the mayor said the protests had placed an “enormous burden” on police, but added: “I share the protesters’ passion about tackling climate change and I absolutely agree that we need to do much more as a country, and fast.”

Sadiq Khan
Protesters will meet with London Mayor Sadiq Khan (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Mr Khan said: “Last year, I declared a climate emergency in London.

“The bold policies we have been pursuing from City Hall since I was elected Mayor, are because I recognised that business as usual is simply not enough to stop the worst effects of climate change on our planet.”

A Government spokesman said: “We can confirm a private meeting will be held between the Environment Secretary, (Committee on Climate Change chairman) Lord Deben and representatives from Extinction Rebellion.

“We know the impact climate change is having on our environment and welcome discussions on how we can tackle it.”

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