Banbury grandmother takes action with High Street climate change protest

A Banbury grandmother stopped traffic for over an hour by peacefully sitting in the High Street over the holiday weekend as part of a nationwide Extinction Rebellion protest.

Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 10:27 am

Rachel Payne, with Extinction Rebellion Banbury, joined more than 200 people across the country when she sat down in the middle of traffic in the Banbury High Street at 11am on Saturday May 1. She wore a sign which read 'I’m terrified the future of our children and grandchildren will be destroyed due to the climate crisis.’

As she sat in the way of oncoming traffic, Rachel Payne risked her life in order to speak out about the Government's inaction on climate change two years on from Parliament’s declaration of an environment and climate emergency.

Officers with Thames Valley Police responded to the incident, and requested Rachel to move closer to the side of the road, for her own safety. Rachel complied.

Rachel said: "I sit here today to highlight the present growing climate and ecological emergency to help everyone to understand the scale and urgency of this crisis.

"I’d rather not have to do this, but it’s a necessity! There’s no pleasure or pride in disrupting people’s lives. I apologise for any inconvenience, but I’m terrified of the future my five children and five grandchildren will have to face, since Government action is hugely inadequate."

Rachel was arrested last year in September 2020 outside Parliament as part of the London climate change protests, and detained for six hours. She then told the Banbury Guardian she would risk arrest again in order to get her message across. Several months later she staged a peaceful protest by sitting in the High Street.

She added: "By failing to act promptly and proportionately to this emergency, the UK Government is criminally negligent in protecting our children's futures. From the science available and the unprecedented temperature rises already happening globally it is very clear how unsafe and catastrophic their future world is predicted to be. We’re racing towards a cliff edge!

Thames Valley Police ask Rachel Payne, a member of Extinction Rebellion Banbury, to move to a safe area after she held a peaceful climate change protest in the high street.

"1150+ climatologists, the United Nations, concerned scientists, and many more, including David Attenborough (“the moment of crisis has come”) — they all agree and stress that the climate breakdown is already happening right now! Millions are consequently suffering with failing crops, food insecurity, drought, flooding, famine, loss of biodiversity and habitat, burning forests and rising sea levels. The threats are increasing: more pandemics, billions dying, fascism and war all within our children's lifetimes.

"The wellbeing of our future generations is paramount. True climate action is supremely urgent — as UN Secretary-General, António Gutteres has declared this March: 'The decisions countries take during this make-or-break year have the power to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. We simply cannot contemplate any alternative. This is the path to peace and prosperity on a healthy planet.'

"Increasingly, unpredictable weather/weather systems and unreliable food production will cause huge migration of populations. Mass displacement globally will see 1 in 9 people on the move within the next 70 years.

"With growing grandchildren, I feel it is my indispensable duty to highlight threats to any child's safety.

Banbury grandmother - Rachel Payne - held a peaceful climate change protest by sitting in the Banbury High Street on Saturday May 1.

"Since the Paris agreement by countries in 2015, with promises to reduce carbon emissions to a 1.5º rise limit, it’s a sad fact that Governments have barely started to do so at all! Since then global banks have pumped a staggering £3.8 trillion into fossil fuels, completely contrary to the Paris accord.

"But it’s not all doom and gloom! — The means to combat the emergency, save the ecosphere and humanity are already available or in development, here in the UK and globally.

"If even little of those trillions of funds had been used wisely in new green technologies and investments, our world would not now be in the dire state that it is. While there are several negative environmental tipping points, both happening now and those we can’t avoid, we may reach a positive tipping point when global awareness of these threats in populations and within Governments increases. I need to be part of making this happen!

"It is from a deep love and care for future generations that I am sitting here today!"

Rachel Payne being spoken to by Thames Valley Police officers during her peaceful climate change protest in the Banbury High Street on May 1.