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'Stop Funding Ecocide': Extinction Rebellion Protesters Target London Financial District

"The city of London is a preeminent nexus of power in the global system that is killing our world."

Extinction Rebellion protesters block the roads outside the Bank of England on October 14, 2019 in London. (Photo: John Keeble/Getty Images)

Climate activists with the global Extinction Rebellion movement blocked roads leading to London's financial district on Monday to call attention to the role big banks play in funding fossil fuel projects and exacerbating the planetary crisis.

Protesters also rallied outside the Bank of England to demand that it "stop funding ecocide" and "invest in the future."

"The city of London is a preeminent nexus of power in the global system that is killing our world," Carolina Rosa, spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion (XR), said in a statement. "It is the epicenter of 'business as usual,' both in the U.K. and globally. If there is to be any hope for the future it cannot continue to operate in its present form."

Emily Grossman, an expert in molecular biology who took part in Monday's protest, slammed financial institutions for fueling the climate crisis by pursuing "huge investments" in the fossil fuel industry as scientists warn carbon emissions must be cut immediately to avoid global catastrophe.

The Guardian reported over the weekend that BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street—the world's largest asset managers—"have built a combined $300 billion fossil fuel investment portfolio using money from people's private savings and pension contributions."

"They are using our own money—in terms of pensions and investments—to drive us all towards climate catastrophe," said Grossman. "They are threatening the lives of our children and grandchildren for the sake of their profits."

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Protesters targeted Blackrock's London offices on Monday:

The London Metropolitan Police announced early Monday that there have been more than 1,300 arrests in the city since XR's two weeks of global nonviolent action began last week. The movement is demanding that political and corporate leaders acknowledge the urgency of the climate crisis and take action to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Rabbi Jeffrey Newman, who joined dozens of others in the streets outside the Bank of England, said "if it takes an arrest to try to find ways of helping to galvanize public opinion, then it is certainly worth being arrested."

Newman was arrested and carried away by London police moments later:

Andrew Medhurst, a former investment banker who is now a full-time climate activist, told The Guardian that the financial sector is "essentially leading us to destruction" by continuing to fund fossil fuel development.

"We have no more time left in terms of taking action," said Medhurst. "We haven't got 12 years. We should have started yesterday. We have to decarbonize our economies, so for the banks to be lending money to fossil fuel companies—it's just barmy. It doesn't make sense."

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