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Extinction Rebellion begins central London protest

Thousands of protesters gathered in London today to mark the beginning of a four-day mass demonstration organised by Extinction Rebellion (XR).

Groups chanted and danced outside Government departments in Westminster as they called for more action to tackle the climate crisis.

More than 30,000 people have said they will attend the protests, branded “The Big One”, between April 21 and April 24, in what will be XR’s first major action since announcing it would move away from more controversial methods of protest and “prioritise attendance over arrest and relationships over roadblocks”.

Protester Mhari Mansell, 45, from Twickenham said: “We’re here today because the government has the power to make huge changes that are necessary right now in order to save the planet. We as individuals don’t have that power but they do.

“If they don’t do it now then there are going to be fundamental changes that are going to be detrimental to humanity. They need to act now.”

The call is for the government to act quickly on the use of fossil fuels, subsidies and a ban on single-use plastics.

Student Iona Ogilvy-Stuart, 21, from Leeds, said: “We’re in a climate catastrophe and a lot of people’s voices aren’t being heard and the government’s priorities are all in the wrong place.”

Student Iona Ogilvy-Stuart believes the government need to listen to everyone’s voices

(Lauren Chaloner)

One protestor described the scenes as like being at a “carnival” whilst others praised the diversity of the movement.

A protester who works with the Forest Schools Association, Dr Sara Knight, 70, from Suffolk said: “It’s just fascinating to see the range of people at the event. I was dancing outside one of the government buildings earlier with everyone from young people to older people. It’s just great how we’re all bothered, we’re all interested, and we all want change.”

Dr Sara Knight who works with the Forest Schools Association

(Lauren Chaloner)

This sentiment was echoed by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) who emphasised the need to invest and restore marine habitats.

Head of intergovernmental engagement at WDC, Ed Goodall, 34, from the Isle of Wight, said: “We’re here because whales are playing such a huge ecosystem functioning role in the ocean and it’s that role that we really want the government to recognise. We’ve seen such a huge mobilisation of society of the last few years, but we’re not just in a climate crisis, we’re in a biodiversity crisis, a food crisis and an ocean crisis.

“But the diversity at this event is just amazing and really shows how far the movement has grown. It’s a carnival atmosphere and I just hope people take things home and learn from today to make changes in their own lives.”

Head of intergovernmental engagement at WDC, Ed Goodall, wants to emphasise the role that whales play in the ecosystem

(Lauren Chaloner)

Many in attendance said they were there to save the lives of their children and grandchildren, whilst others also emphasised the importance of protecting every life from the effects of the climate crisis.

Manufacturing company manager, Elise Moss, 40, from Kent, said: “It’s not just my children’s future, it’s my future as well. These changes in the climate are going to happen really quickly and I don’t think that people realise this.

“I think a good solution would be a citizens assembly and one that’s legally binding so that the government can’t just override it like it did in France.”

“It’s our future too” says manufacturing company manager Elise Moss

(Lauren Chaloner)

The Extinction Rebellion events will continue until 24 April.

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