(Photo: John Keeble/Getty Images)
Oct 14, 2019
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."
\u201cBREAKING: We are shutting down Bank junction to highlight the \u00a3billions that london's finance industry pumps into the fossil fuel industry that is killing the poor whilst the 1% gets immeasurably richer #climatechange\n\n#extinctionrebellion\u201d— Extinction Rebellion Guildford (@Extinction Rebellion Guildford) 1571037056
\u201cMeanwhile at @Barclays in Canary Wharf... We shut down another key financial centre. Barclays leads Europe in banking fossil fuels ($85 B) and fossil fuel expansion ($24 B) and is the top European banker of fracking and coal power. Stop #BankingOnBreakdown \n\n#EverybodyNow\u201d— Extinction Rebellion UK \ud83c\udf0d (@Extinction Rebellion UK \ud83c\udf0d) 1571055316
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 Guardianreported 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."
Protesters targeted Blackrock's London offices on Monday:
\u201c.@BlackRock is the #1 investor in fossil fuels & in companies driving deforestation globally. Investors lost $90 Bn. over the past decade due to underperforming fossil fuels. Stop #BankingOnBreakdown & divest now to avoid stranded assets.\n\nPress release: \nhttps://t.co/CkRoCiOtQ6\u201d— Extinction Rebellion UK \ud83c\udf0d (@Extinction Rebellion UK \ud83c\udf0d) 1571057659
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:
\u201c\u201cIt\u2019s not okay!\u201d\n\nThis is the moment Rabbi Jeffrey Newman was arrested and carried away for taking action with #ExtinctionRebellion outside the Bank of England\u201d— Damien Gayle (@Damien Gayle) 1571036160
Andrew Medhurst, a former investment banker who is now a full-time climate activist, toldThe 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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