UK climate protest arrests top 1,000

Roadblocks removed from key locations after week of demonstrations

TOPSHOT - Extinction Rebellion climate change activists perform a mass "die in" under the blue whale in the foyer of the Natural History Museum in London on April 22, 2019, on the eighth day of the environmental group's protest calling for political change to combat climate change. Climate change protesters who have brought parts of London to a standstill said Sunday they were prepared to call a halt if the British government will discuss their demands. Some 963 arrests have been made and 42 people charged in connection with the ongoing Extinction Rebellion protests. / AFP / Tolga Akmen

British police have now arrested more than 1,000 people during week-long protests by climate change activists in London as officers finally removed roadblocks at some of the capital’s iconic locations.

Demonstrations at Oxford Street, a major shopping area, and a square outside of parliament have ended after a week that has seen activists disrupt travel in the capital in protest at efforts to address global warming.

Protests continued on Monday at a sanctioned site in central London and by more than 100 people lying down beneath the skeleton of a blue whale at London’s Natural History Museum.

Organisers from the group Extinction Rebellion described the stunt as a “die in” designed to demonstrate the threat to the planet.

The group has vowed to shut down the capital until April 29 amid concerns that the protests could affect Sunday’s London Marathon. MPs are also due to return to work on Tuesday after their Easter holidays.

London’s Metropolitan police said that 1,065 people had been arrested in connection with the demonstrations with some 53 charged with criminal offences.

The group wants talks with government, pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2025 and for a ‘citizens’ assembly’ to lead policy on climate and ecology.

London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan said the protest had bitten deep into police resources and affected the profitability of businesses.

“I'm extremely concerned about the impact the protests are having on our ability to tackle issues like violent crime if they continue any longer,” he said.

His predecessor as London Mayor, former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, said in a newspaper column that the government was set to announce a target of zero net emissions by 2050.

“The UK is by no means the prime culprit, and may I respectfully suggest to the Extinction Rebellion crew that next Earth Day they look at China, where CO2 output has not been falling, but rising vertiginously,” he wrote in the Daily Telegraph.