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Extinction Rebellion activists from Wigan say why they are taking part in the massive London environmental protests


Oct. 08, 2019

Wigan climate change activists with Extinction Rebellion (XR) have spoken about taking part in the massive environmental demonstrations which have currently shut down parts of London.
Almost a dozen protestors are understood to have travelled from the borough to the capital city for the International Rebellion event.
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Sites across Westminster and landmarks such as Trafalgar Square have been taken over by XR, which plans a fortnight-long protest and is targeting institutions and organisations in positions of power, including Government departments.
XR's tactics have been controversial, with people taking to social media to complain about the disruption and Prime Minister Boris Johnson criticising protestors on Monday night. The proximity of one of the roadblocks to a hospital has caused particular concern, although the movement has said it will stand aside for ambulances.
But the Wigan rebels, as activists are known within XR, apologised to anyone inconvenienced by the demonstrations, saying they feel they have no other choice but to take direct action.
And they told of their deep concerns about climate change and the destruction of the environment as well as their fear that not enough is being done about it.
Donald McQueen from Orrell, who ran an environmental consultancy working with businesses and NHS on green issues, said: "I've always been a keen environmentalist, both emotionally and in a professional capacity.
"I've had an understanding of the crisis for two-and-a-half decades but this is the first organisation that really makes sense on how to tackle it.
"All the talking internationally on climate change hasn't worked. We know that global emissions are still rising and the problems of climate change and ecological destruction are still getting worse.
"The Rebellion is made up of professors, doctors, teachers, supported wonderfully by people who have got some idea of what is happening.
"Politics has failed and is broken. Therefore we as a movement need to try to force through change for what works.
"Extinction Rebellion is in around 85 to 90 countries all over the world. Exactly the same thing is happening as is happening in London."
Kate, 31, said it was reading the horrifying report produced last November by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which warned there may be just a dozen years left to avert climate catastrophe, that spurred her into action.
She said: "That was when I first realised how little time we have to make big changes and I just felt it was my moral duty to do what I can while we still can.
"I think I can speak for most of us from Wigan when I say we completely understand why people are funny about disruption, but my general opinion is that far more disruption will be caused in the coming decades if we don't do anything."
NHS worker Julie Hotchkiss, from Appley Bridge, said: "It's wonderful to be working with a lot of caring and creative people who want to try to turn around the terrible state the world has got into with climate change.
"I saw a report that said something like 40 per cent of even our British species are under threat. That's ridiculous. How can we possibly be losing species like the hedgehog?
"I love gardening and I've noticed I haven't seen as many butterflies this year. Imagine all the other insects people barely notice which are dwindling in numbers if not being completely eradicated.
"We've seen the damage done in Indonesia with palm oil but that feels quite remote to people, but when you imagine losing British species as well that brings it home to you.
"The good thing with Extinction Rebellion is that they are actually getting the Government to take notice. Lots of us have been in local campaign groups and donated to them but it just hasn't made any difference.
"This movement is getting people active and you see that today with lots and lots of people in the streets.
"Lots of people are going about their daily lives not appreciating things have to change and all of us will be affected, from the food available to the extent to which we can travel. Currently the cost of flying is completely skewed because all the external costs are not included. We can't continue having more flights and building more airports and runways, we need to build a regenerative culture.
"It's not about saying we can't do this and that, it's building on things we have lost. Everything is monetised, so if you don't buy it you don't enjoy it, but there's so much we can do without having to pay and using lots of the Earth's resources.
"We feel that if we keep going we will get the Government to listen to us and drive home to people that it really is happening and it's an emergency."
Police have so far made more than 250 arrests and have taken a more active approach to disrupting XR's activities than they did during the movement's April shutdown of areas in London.
XR has three aims: to get the Government to tell the truth about the scale of the climate emergency, to ensure Britain is zero-carbon by 2025, and to encourage the creation of citizens' assemblies so people can have their say on how the future will look.
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