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Demonstrators take part in an Extinction Rebellion protest at Westminster Bridge in London on April 15, 2022. (Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)

'No Choice But to Disrupt': Climate Activists Block 4 London Bridges

"Rebels are swarming across London, part of a global wave of civil disobedience as people wake up to the fact that our leaders are failing to tackle the #ClimateCrisis," tweeted Extinction Rebellion U.K.

Jessica Corbett

Climate campaigners on Friday shut down four major bridges in London as part of a wave of actions across the United Kingdom to demand an end to fossil fuels.

The U.K. arm of Extinction Rebellion (XR) confirmed members of the group blocked the Blackfriars, Lambeth, Waterloo, and Westminster bridges.

"Rebels are swarming across London, part of a global wave of civil disobedience as people wake up to the fact that our leaders are failing to tackle the #ClimateCrisis," the group tweeted. "They promise #BuildBackBetter but all they do is pour oil on the [fire]."

The activist group vowed to keep demonstrating until the U.K. government aligns its policy with climate science and highlighted that globally, "we're on track for a catastrophic 3°C warming!"

That is a full degree higher than the less ambitious target of the 2015 Paris climate agreement for limiting global temperature rise by 2100, relative to preindustrial levels.

"As long as our government fails to #ActNow on the #ClimateCrisis, disregarding expert advice, licensing more drilling for oil and gas, locking up scientists, we have no choice but to disrupt," XR added.

As The Guardian's Damien Gayle reports:

For one period Blackfriars Bridge was held by a single 76-year-old woman who lay in the road and refused to move. Lucy Harding, from Reading, said she had first learned about climate change from her stepson in 1976.

"That's a long time to know that we are in danger and it has been really frightening to see it coming closer and closer, seeing tipping point after tipping point pass," Harding said. "It's awful to be 76, to actually see the end of my life coming, and knowing what has been left behind."

About two dozen officers from City of London police surrounded Harding, who said she was determined to be arrested. However, she voluntarily ended her blockade after officers refused to pick her up and threatened to call an ambulance to take her away.

The city's Metropolitan Police Service tweeted Friday that "we are seeing pockets of protest which are causing delays and disruption across central London" and "officers are on scene and working to manage the impact."

Protesters across London played bongos and waved banners that demanded an end to fossil fuels, according to the BBC, which noted that "queues of traffic have been forming as a result of the demonstrations."

Additional XR actions are planned in the United Kingdom through Sunday.

One of the actions on Wednesday involved scientists gluing academic papers and their own hands to the windows of a U.K. government building in London.

Scientist Emma Smart went on a hunger strike Thursday after she was denied bail while awaiting a court hearing on charges stemming from that protest.

XR members on Friday morning gathered outside Charing Cross Police Station, where Smart is being held, to show support for the scientist.

"What kind of world do we live in when scientists are forced to put themselves into positions of arrest and hunger strike to be heard?" asked Smart's husband, Andrew Smith, in a statement Friday. "And why has she not been released? This was a minor crime with no disruption to the public. Her treatment is disproportionate to her crime."

"Our politicians are aware of the severity of the climate emergency, every decision should be informed by science, not coerced for profit and greed," he added. "Emma knows what's at stake if we don't stop fossil fuel investments and she is taking a stand for her nieces' future and all those around the world suffering now from this crisis. Everyone must stand with her now and come out on the streets to show the government that change is coming whether they like it or not."

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