Several of the actions included Extinction Rebellion members occupying St Paul’s to demand the church divest from fossil fuels, fake blood flooding across Paternoster Square to highlight the city of London’s profiteering from the slave trade and ecocidal industries, reminding consumers how much fossil fuel is used by the fashion industry and scientists glued on in the science museum to protest a Shell-sponsored exhibition featuring carbon capture among others.
Banbury XR members spoke out about some of their experiences in the London protests.
Liz Vere, a Banbury schoolteacher, said: "Behind the confrontational images the media prefer are myriad examples of people simply wanting to engage the public and the police in discussion, even as they are being moved along, or arrested.
"Two small moments that particularly touched me this week were, firstly, when a group of youthful protestors made a point of dragging this bashful middle-aged woman with two left-feet into their exuberant ceilidh-style dance - symbolic on so many levels.
"A second was on Wednesday afternoon, outside the Dept for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. XR just don’t do celebrity, but there are certain personalities who always draw a large crowd and after the speeches addressing the folly of HS2 and the Government’s apparent inability to stop investing in new fossil fuel exploitation I saw one of the founders of XR quietly collecting litter from the crowd. As I deposited my lunch-stained plate she responded to my thanks with a 'It’s my plesh.' And it really was."
Jo Taylor, from Lower Brailes, employed by a heat-pump installer, chatted to a football fan on her train to London. He’s a construction worker so Jo asked him about the insulation and heating materials in the homes he’s building. Like most of the newbuilds in this country, it meets minimal government regulations and is heated by fossil fuel. Homes heated by gas and oil will all need retrofitting, if the UK is to meet its carbon targets, Jo points out. It was easy to make connections between carbon emissions from houses and the wildfires raging in Turkey, the flash flooding in East London where the builder has family.
Jo said: "When he left the train he thanked me for the conversation and said he would think about it. People I’ve spoken to have all been receptive, but I’m concerned there will be a lot of anger when people actually realise how dire our situation is."
Maria Huff, IT specialist at Oxford University, spoke warmly about her post-arrest encounter with the police officer who drove her through congested traffic to Plumstead custody suite.
Maria asked him to imagine a London where the air is clean and people get around on foot, by bike, and on efficient public transport. Passing Greenwich, they discussed the Thames Flood Barrier, and the predictions that rising sea levels will overwhelm it by 2030. Maria was arrested an during the XR rebellion in October 2019 in London. Maria Huff, Alex Berry and Jane Rogers were all arrested for obstruction of the highway (sitting in the road) in Whitehall in October 2019. Maria pleaded guilty in October 2020 at London City Magistrates court on October 23.
Linda said: "He didn’t know – because our media don’t tell us – that our savings and pension funds are used by banks here - like Barclays and HSBC - to fund fossil fuel projects including in China. He also didn’t make the link that so much of what we buy is made in China - no wonder they have higher emissions."
Fran Boon, a company director from the village of Hethe, has been going to London regularly despite being busy with a lot of work.
He said: "The wonderful speeches are what stood out for me, George Monbiot amazing as-always, and sadly informative of the Energy Charter Treaty which means that fossil fuel companies can sue governments for loss of future earnings if they prevent further extraction. The message is slowly, but hopefully surely, getting out that we need to act now as the last hope to turn things around."
Rachel Payne from Milcombe, mother of five, who was in London most of the week, said: "I’ve been thrilled by the diversity. All cultures, all races, come together and share in this rebellion against what’s happening to our world. It’s all of us against the fossil fuel magnates, and they have known for decades the damage they are causing."
She said that in 1988 Shell wrote a report called ‘The Greenhouse Effect,’ containing the following statement: By the time global warming becomes detectable it could be too late to take effective counter-measures to reduce the effects or even to stabilise the situation.
Some Banbury members, like Jim Smith, worked as stewards for the marches and actions.
He said: "One of the most memorable events was in Brixton, learning from the local community how climate change is affecting them now and how the impact will be even bigger in the near future. It was shocking to find out how much of London will be below sea level by 2030."
Anyone interested in Banbury Extinction Rebellion contact them through the following email: [email protected]