This week, climate activists are once again blockading major capital cities to call for immediate action against climate change. Their aim is clear: cause as much non-violent disruption as possible. Their means: blocking traffic at rush hour, organising ‘die-ins’ and attempting to get as many people arrested as possible. More extreme acts of civil disobedience are also occurring around Europe: in Zurich activists coloured the Limmat River acid green and in London demonstrators glued themselves to government buildings. With the disruption organised to continue for fourteen days, how far should these protests be allowed to go?
Activists involved in the movement say that direct action is the only option. Years of demonstrations and online petitions have done nothing to convince policy makers about the urgency of climate catastrophe. The main organisers of the campaign, Extinction Rebellion, are eager to capitalise on the sudden salience of climate change as an issue. From their perspective, no amount of disruption is too much.
However, there are many who argue that the climate protesters have gone too far and should be stopped. Boris Johnson dismissed activists as ‘uncooperative crusties’. Opponents argue that the protests are causing damage to the economy and could potentially disrupt access to emergency care. The UK Metropolitan Police have also warned that the protests take resources away from other areas of policing.
Are climate protesters going too far? Is it acceptable to shut down capital cities in aid of the climate? Or can conventional political means be used to achieve the same goal? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!