Protesters glued themselves to windows of central London hotel hosting industry event
— Nine activists from the environmental group Extinction Rebellion have been arrested after they glued themselves to the front of a central London hotel to demand that the petroleum industry end its “deeply immoral” behaviour in driving climate change.
Specialist police officers spent about two hours unsticking the protesters from windows next to the entrance of the InterContinental Park Lane hotel in Mayfair, which was hosting an oil and gas industry conference.
Police put up screens to conceal the protesters from view as the officers detached them. Security staff had previously attempted to remove the protesters.
As one protester was led to a police van, she said: “I’ve been a very law-abiding citizen all my life but I realise now that is not really working. I am a mother of two girls and I am really terrified about their future. We can’t just carry on like this.”
Another said: “The petroleum industry has been complicit in the destruction of our environment and they have been making money out of selling products that are harmful and we need them to stop.”
Jeremy, 51, IT consultant, glued on to the Park Lane Hotel, where oil and gas industry leaders are gathering for International Petroleum Week “I’m here because I’m acting like the truth of the climate and ecological emergency is real”. #ExtinctionRebellion #IPWeek pic.twitter.com/qffwkF1siJ— Extinction Rebellion (@ExtinctionR) February 27, 2019
The arrestees, including Jackson Harries, a film-maker, were taken to local police stations.
A Metropolitan police spokesperson said: “Police were called to reports of a protest at a hotel on Hamilton Place, W1. Officers attended and discovered a number of people had glued themselves to windows. Nine people have been arrested on suspicion of offences including aggravated trespass and criminal damage.”
The protest came halfway through International Petroleum Week, an event organised by the Energy Institute to bring together global energy experts and to manage “tension between sustainability demands and operational, business return”.
Extinction Rebellion said oil and gas operators and investors should respond seriously to the climate crisis rather than meet to form new partnerships and discuss expansion.
Sam Knights, an activist with the group, said: “These companies are destroying our planet. We have to start talking about that. We have to start pointing out, again and again, that their business model is based on the mass murder of hundreds and millions of people. They know this.”
“In fact, they have known this for a very long time. But they refuse to change. They continue to put private profit over human life. The fact that they are still talking about acquiring new fossil fuel reserves at this point in the climate crisis is not only deeply immoral, it is evidently criminal. We all have a moral duty to stop them.”
The conference heard a speech from the international trade secretary, Liam Fox, who entered the venue through a side entrance.
The Guardian asked the Department for International Trade for a copy of the speech and initially received extracts in which Fox declared that the UK government “will not use Brexit to lower environmental standards”, before being given the full document.
He highlighted the importance of the oil and gas sector to the UK and restated the country’s commitment under the Climate Change Act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% between 1990 and 2050.
Discussion topics at the conference on Wednesday included “unlocking opportunities on [Africa’s] next hotspots”, adapting to “climate change impacts that are now unavoidable” and exploration of a number of new oil prospects.
Outside the hotel, attendees said they sympathised with the protesters. “We all do, as human beings,” one said. “However, we do different things to reach the same goal, a better world.”
Extinction Rebellion, which last November blockaded five bridges in central London, said it would continue to embark on a “campaign of rebellion” to highlight what it said was the criminal inaction of the UK government on climate change.
It said a series of events were planned in the run-up to an “international climate rebellion” planned for 15 April, in which it says thousands of activists will gather in London. Similar events are planned by Extinction Rebellion groups in 30 other countries.
“While politicians rearrange the Brexit deckchairs, the British people are heading for extinction due to the ecological emergency,” the group said in a statement. “The rich and powerful who run this country continue to refuse to do their duty to protect us from disaster … that is why we have to rebel.”
by Mattha Busby, Matthew Taylor | The Guardian