Climate activists throw black paint at Michael Gove’s office

Extinction Rebellion hit British minister's office in protest against his decision to open a new coal mine

Black paint on the pavement outside the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities in London following the protest. PA
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Climate activists covered British minister Michael Gove's office in black paint on Wednesday in protest against his decision to approve a new coal mine in Cumbria.

The Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities in central London was hit by Extinction Rebellion members who poured black paint down the sloped walls towards the front doors of the building on Wednesday morning.

Two members of the group cuffed themselves together with a lock-on tube bearing the words “end coal” and lay down in front of the entrance.

Other protesters could be seen wearing yellow hooded capes and face masks. One demonstrator wore a Michael Gove mask and dressed in a skeleton costume while holding a mock pickaxe.

Extinction Rebellion said the protest was over the mine in Whitehaven, Cumbria, which will be the UK’s first new deep coal mine in 30 years.

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“2022 saw record global greenhouse gas emissions, and record global temperatures,” said Sarah Hart, a demonstrator from Farnborough, Hampshire.

“Where is the government’s ambition to act on this climate and ecological emergency? How dare they even think of opening a coal mine now?

“Gove claims this mine is carbon neutral but he completely ignores the emissions from burning the coal. We demand an end to all new fossil fuel projects.”

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Dorothea Hackman, a protester from Camden, north London, said: “Opening a coal mine today means the UK can’t argue that China and India should decrease their own coal emissions.

“Whitehaven coal isn’t even wanted by British steelworks — it’s going to be exported. There is no argument for domestic production.”

Extinction Rebellion began the year by stating it would temporarily stop public disruption tactics, which have frustrated commuters and businesses over the past four years, because “very little has changed” and emissions continue to rise.

Updated: January 18, 2023, 9:54 PM