Climate change protesters chained to Scottish Parliament freed by leaders

Environmental protesters locked themselves on to the Scottish Parliament building and posted the keys to party leaders in the hope of getting changes to the Climate Change Bill.

Five activists from the Extinction Rebellion Scotland group with locks around their necks were attached to the Holyrood building with the means of freeing them sent to the leaders of the SNP, Conservatives, Labour, the Scottish Greens and the Liberal Democrats.

An accompanying note told the leaders that they “hold the key to our future” and said the target for net-zero carbon emissions by 2045 “is nowhere near ambitious enough to minimise the risk of catastrophic climate change”.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie unlocking a climate change activist outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh (Tom Eden/PA)
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie releases a climate change activist outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh (Tom Eden/PA)

A report by the Committee on Climate Change recommended that the UK should aim to be net-zero by 2050, with Scotland proposing a target for doing so five years earlier.

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie arrived first to unlock 21-year-old student Ellie Harris, who was calling for a citizens’ assembly to guide policy on the climate.

After being unlocked, Ms Harris said: “The Climate Bill, as it stands, is entirely inadequate and we want MSPs to come up with radical amendments.”

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie unlocking environmental activist Ellie Harris from the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh (Tom Eden/PA)
Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie unlocks environmental activist Ellie Harris (Tom Eden/PA)

“We just want them to lower their (2045) target drastically. We want them to say they are going to have net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 because if they don’t then there’s going to be catastrophic damage for everyone on the planet.”

Speaking to his freed campaigner, Mr Harvie said: “Getting people’s voices into the debate about how Scotland should change not just in the (Scottish Parliament) building but right throughout society is really crucial.”

The keys to the locks have been delivered to 5 leading representatives of the main political parties within Scotland (@strathearnrose@RuthDavidsonMSP@LabourRichard@patrickharvie@willie_rennie) along with a note. #5Keys2Future#ExtinctionRebellionpic.twitter.com/tROwa42bG9

— Extinction Rebellion Scotland (@ScotlandXr) June 4, 2019

Asked about the protest, Mr Harvie described it as “creative and engaging” and added: “I don’t think this is civil disobedience, this is insistence.”

“People are recognising the position the world is in is perilous and if we’d started the urgent action that’s necessary 40 years ago it might have been easy, but now we’re on the verge of a crisis.

“Unless we act with incredible urgency we’re not going to hand on a planet that is liveable for the next generation.”

Five climate change activists were locked to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh and the keys sent to party leaders (Tom Eden/PA)
Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie speaks to climate change outside Holyrood (Tom Eden/PA)

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Willie Rennie was the next leader to arrive and, after eventually finding his key, unlocked a second demonstrator, followed by Maurice Golden on behalf of the Tories and Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard.

The final MSP to free a protester was Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham, who told activists that Scotland’s climate change target would be the most ambitious in the world.

While the protesters were attached to the parliament, dozens of Sudanese demonstrators also held up placards and chanted, calling for an end to the violence and killings in their north-east African homeland.

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