Climate activist group Extinction Rebellion has warned the City of London is set for two weeks of chaos as it launched a new campaign of disruption with insurers firmly in its sights.
The group launched “The Impossible Rebellion” yesterday (23 August), explaining the date marks the 230th anniversary of the start of the of the Haitian Revolution and the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. The campaign will demand that the government implement its immediate demand – for the UK Government to immediately stop all new fossil fuel investments.
The group warned that the insurance industry will be a focus of its protests.
“The City of London was the financial force behind Britain’s role in transatlantic trade of African people as slaves, insuring vessels and arranging cargoes,” it stated. “The City also played a pivotal role in British colonialism, beginning in Ireland in the early 1600s where it still owns land today, and spreading across the globe.”
It added the City of London, via the investments of the companies that it hosts, is responsible for 15% of global CO2 emissions. If it were a country, it would be the 9th biggest carbon emitter on the planet.
“Not one of the top 10 funders in the City has made a serious plan to exit fossil fuels, despite having pledged to reach net zero by 2050,” it said.
According to a study published in Nature Geoscience in March, a temperature rise of above 1.5C could push tropical regions of the world beyond “the limit of human adaptation.” The FTSE 100 is currently on track for 3.9 degrees of global heating. According to Professor Johan Rockstrom, joint director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, a temperature rise of 4 degrees above pre-industrial levels could result in the deaths of millions of people as the world would only be able to sustain a fraction of the current population.
Skeena Rathor, Extinction Rebellion co-leader and a founding member, said: “The City of London has long led and profited from enslavement and colonisation. Today it continues on this violent path as it enables the flow of money into the very industries whose actions will destabilise food sources, displace people and make large swathes of the world uninhabitable.
“We are here in the City of London on the 230th anniversary of the beginning of the Haitian Revolution, the only successful revolution by enslaved black people in modern history. On their shoulders we stand, with a peaceful nonviolent ceremonial disobedience in the heart of this violent system.
“It is time for humanity to begin healing the wounds of division, domination and war which scar our history and to come together in co-liberation, to grieve what we have lost and preserve what is left.”
Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said: “We’ve got a significant operation in place lead by an experienced command team to effectively provide a proportionate response to what is going to be a protracted demonstration over two weeks.
“We understand why this is such an important cause, no one is oblivious to that, what we don’t want is for people who are protesting to impact on the rights of others.
“We don’t want serious disruption caused to London – the August bank holiday is one of the busiest of the year and we know this will mean officers are extracted from their local boroughs and brought into the centre of London to deal with this protest.”