Activists take part in “The Big One” event in the British capital to demand that the government do more to tackle the climate crisis.
Environmental campaigning group Extinction Rebellion has launched four days of work in London, promising less disruption and more inclusiveness than the mass blockades that have become its trademark.
“This is about expanding advocacy and bringing more people in much more groups on board,” Claire Farrell, co-founder of the group known as XR, said Friday.
“For a lot of people, going to a rally is like coming to a sit-in is the first step,” she told AFP, promising “non-violent civil disobedience”.
XR has in recent years gained media attention by disrupting, hitting roads, airports and other public transportation networks with direct action protests against climate change.
But in January she called a temporary halt to her high-profile demonstrations, promising instead to mobilize huge numbers against what she sees as government inaction on global warming.
The group hopes 100,000 people will gather outside Parliament this weekend for “The Big One” event, and has said so far it has seen 30,000 people register interest.
The event coincides with the London Marathon on Sunday, and discussions have been held with race organizers to limit disruptions.
Dr. Rita Issa, a general practitioner and climate health researcher who attended the protest on Friday, told Al Jazeera that addressing the climate crisis would have beneficial effects on health in the community.
“I work as a GP in East London, where we often have illegal levels of air pollution. What that means for me as a doctor, in practice, is that I see children with 10 per cent reduced lung capacity as a result of air pollution.”
“Taking action on the climate crisis is good for our future but also good for the health of the populations here today.”
Julia Hillis, the climate activist of 35 years, was among those setting up booths in central London on Friday.
“People are realizing … that we face a devastating future and we have a window of opportunity where we need to do something about it,” she said. “The Earth is dying. We have to stop this.”
Her son, Connor Bryant, 28, said his children and grandchildren will be more affected by climate change.
He added, “So the work in some ways is very important to me to feel like I’m doing what’s needed to protect everyone I’m ever going to love.”
He urged more people to join the movement: “The longer companies and governments wait to respond, the more extreme the response will be.”
The more disruptive and cruel action, he said, was “inevitable the nearer we got to the fire.”
Protester Lisa Milne said she was reluctant to take action that would cause “contact” with the public.
“I was so happy to go along this time and join in and show support and show I care about the planet and what we’re doing with it,” she added.
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