‘I will not be a bystander’, says Extinction Rebellion climate activist

Hackney resident and climate "sitter" Precious Martini-Brown reveals her fears for the planet's future and blocks traffic. 

Hackney resident and climate "sitter" Precious Martini-Brown reveals her fears for the planet's future and blocks traffic. - Credit: XR Hackney

Campaigners took to Hackney streets to protest a lack of action two years on from parliament's declaration of a climate emergency. 

Two local Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists stopped traffic on different ends of Stoke Newington Church Street on May 1 for over an hour. They sat peacefully on the road wearing signs that expressed fears of "impending climate and ecological collapse". 

Quaker, community gardener and climate "sitter" Precious Martini-Brown, 74, said on May 1: "The people taking action today hope to make clear that they can no longer trust the UK government with their future."

Precious says she has been a part of the environmental movement "from the early days" and has seen it grow from "alternative" to the big central issue it is today.  

She described how the growth economy drives humans to consume more than their fair share of the earth's resources, adding: "On the second anniversary of the declaration of climate emergency by this government, I [sat] down to testify my truth and bewilderment, shock and terror for the irreversible changes happening around us."

Precious joined hundreds of other activists around the UK in rebellions of one.

Precious joined hundreds of other activists around the UK in rebellions of one, to protest the government's inaction in tackling the climate crisis. - Credit: XR Hackney

The Committee on Climate Change, an independent body tasked with monitoring government progress on reducing admissions, said in a progress report last June that the UK had failed in 17 of 21 progress indicators and that just two of 31 key policy milestones had been met over a year since an emergency was declared. 

In December 2020, the National Audit Office (NAO) predicted the government would fail to meet targets to reach net zero by 2050. 

A government spokesperson responded: “We share the passion of many others in ending our contribution to climate change and protecting our planet for this generation and those to come. We also respect the right to peaceful protest, but people’s day-to-day lives should not be disrupted."

The UK was the first major economy to legislate a target of net zero by 2050 and has committed to what the government calls a "highly ambitious" target to cut emissions by 78 per cent by 2035 compared to 1990 levels, "ensuring the UK is on a world-leading path to meet net zero by 2050". 

Police remove a climate activist from Stoke Newington Church Street, their sign abandoned in the road. 

Police remove a climate activist from Stoke Newington Church Street, their sign abandoned in the road. - Credit: XR Hackney

XR rebellions of one.

The protests were a part of Extinction Rebellion’s "waves" of Rebellion for 2021. Rebellions will be held each month, increasing in pressure each time as the group builds up to the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow in November. - Credit: XR Hackney


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