Extinction Rebellion making things inconvenient? Climate crisis 'is really, really inconvenient', says Naomi Klein.

October 18, 2019
Extinction Rebellion protest in London outside Buckingham Palace on October 17. Photo: Extinction Rebellion UK/Facebook.

As Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists in London ramped up their latest mobilisation with a 10th consecutive day of action on October 16, author Naomi Klein pushed back against criticism of the climate protesters and said the climate crisis itself is what is truly disruptive.

In an interview with Sky News presenter Adam Boulton, posted on October 16, Klein refuted the notion that "a lot of action" to address the climate crisis is "being taken by politicians", saying their lack of sufficient action is what has drawn youth climate and XR activists into the streets across the world in recent weeks.

The interview came as the global mobilisation — which has blocked major roads and bridges in a bid to demand greenhouse gas emissions go down to net zero by 2025 — staged actions on October 16, in defiance of a London-wide ban.

XR has also announced that several affinity groups plan to disrupt Tube services on October 17. "In any other circumstances", the group said in a statement, "these groups would never dream of disrupting the Tube, but this is an emergency."

Boulton, in his interview with Klein, said the climate activists put others in a position such that their "route to work is being obstructed" and said XR is "trying to shut down the Tube system".

"Yes, it's inconveniencing people," said Klein. "As somebody who has covered natural disasters that are fueled by climate change for 15 years — there is nothing more inconvenient than being hit by a Category 5 hurricane, by having a wildfire raze your town."

"Let me tell you how inconvenient it is for the people in Paradise, California, 14,000 of whom lost their homes," she continued.

"Climate change is really, really inconvenient. And so if people have to deal with this inconvenience of some protests in London to get the attention of politicians who have been focused on a singular way on the emergency of Brexit, then so be it."

London Metropolitan Police issued an order on October 14 banning "any assembly linked to the Extinction Rebellion 'Autumn Uprising'" within the city.

One of Wednesday's actions was a "people's assembly" in Trafalgar Square, in which roughly 2500 activists gathered to strategise responses to what they say is the government's continued inaction on the climate crisis.

Among those in the square detained by police was journalist and activist George Monbiot.

Allan Hogarth, head of advocacy and programs at Amnesty International UK, called the protest ban "a heavy-handed and unacceptable move by the Metropolitan Police".

"Certain disruption to ordinary life for protesting is natural, and it needs to be tolerated," said Hogarth.

"The police must respect the rights of those peacefully protesting and ensure that the voices of those demanding action on tackling the climate crisis are allowed to be heard."

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg weighed in on the ban as well in a tweet on October 15: "If standing up against the climate and ecological breakdown and for humanity is against the rules, then the rules must be broken."

[Abridged from Common Dreams.]

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