Extinction Rebellion protesters smash windows at Barclays London HQ

Demonstrations coincide with news that one in four Britons unwilling to change habits to help climate

Extinction Rebellion activists broke windows at the London headquarters of Barclays on Wednesday, the latest protest aimed at highlighting the role of the financial sector in fuelling what the environmental group calls the climate catastrophe.

Their actions came on the same day as a YouGov poll for Sky News indicated that 25 per cent of Britons are unwilling to change their habits to beat climate change.

Seven environmental activists used hammers to break the windows and then pasted the message "In Case of Climate Emergency Break Glass" on the front of the bank's building.

Extinction Rebellion said the action was part of its so-called "Money Rebellion" against the capitalist system, which uses "nonviolent direct action, causing damage to property to prevent and draw attention to greater damage".

"It is the latest action in protest at the bank’s continued investments in activities that are directly contributing to the climate and ecological emergency," the group said.

The move against Barclays in the Canary Wharf business district came after activists last week splashed black dye on the facade of the Bank of England in the historical financial centre, the City of London.

A police officer detains an Extinction Rebellion activist during a protest outside the Bank of England, in the City of London, London. Reuters
A police officer detains an Extinction Rebellion activist during a protest outside the Bank of England, in the City of London, London. Reuters

Extinction Rebellion says it wants to trigger a wider revolt against the political, economic and social structures of the modern world to avert the worst scenarios of climate change.

"You may dislike our action today but I ask you to compare a crack in a window to funding wildfires and flooded homes," said Sophie Cowen, 30, a campaigner from London.

"We took action today because someone needs to raise the alarm, because broken windows are better than broken futures."

Poll reveals British intransigence on environment

Ms Cowen and Extinction Rebellion may find that neither direct action nor warnings resonate with a significant proportion of the UK public.

The YouGov survey showed economic considerations eclipse environmental factors for the vast majority of respondents.

Just 13 per cent said they would accept higher costs for meat, and a meagre 2 per cent would support increased heating bills to reduce climate change.

Half of respondents supported the UK government's proposed ban on petrol and diesel car sales by 2030, but only 29 per cent said they would be happy not to drive one in the future.

Only 36 per cent supported more taxes for those who fly the most kilometres, and only 20 per cent were prepared to countenance substantial increases in the price of overseas travel.

The poll also revealed widespread ignorance of this year's Cop26 climate change conference, which is being held in Glasgow, Scotland.

Extinction Rebellion Barclays London protest – in pictures

Updated: April 7, 2021 05:09 PM

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