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Arrests as climate activists target energy ministry

Extinction Rebellion take fight to Tory ministers for backing fracking

CLIMATE activists took the fight against fracking to the government today, gluing and locking themselves to the ministry responsible.

Extinction Rebellion campaigners glued themselves to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy office in London to highlight the “havoc” caused by hydraulic fracturing, an industry emphatically supported by the Tories.

The Met Police said eight arrests were made as activists blocked the entrances and road, locking themselves to the building’s doors and fittings.

One protester climbed above the revolving doors of the building in Westminster and wrote “frack off” in black spray paint, while a second was arrested after spraying the extinction symbol on the windows.

Protesters from the group Christian Climate Action also entered the lobby and locked themselves to fittings.

Extinction Rebellion activist Gail Bradbook said they were aware of the risks of arrest but wanted to highlight the urgency of the crisis.

“Change comes when people are willing to commit acts of peaceful civil disobedience,” she said.

Activists in Bristol simultaneously took part in a “rolling road block” with a samba band, which halted traffic through roads in the city centre.

Protester Tiana Jacout said: “We have been invited to decide between those unbearable nights of watching the slow-moving car crash that is how humanity treats the world or standing up for the world we know is possible.”

Extinction Rebellion is organising a non-violent uprising against the government for its “criminal inaction” on climate change.

The group demands that the government reduces to zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 and creates a citizen's assembly to oversee changes.

Last month, the organisation’s first mass action drew 1,000 people to Westminster and blocked roads for two hours. There were 15 arrests.

Campaigners say that Theresa May’s government is promoting fracking by meeting with fracking companies more than 30 times in the last three years, but not once with anti-fracking groups despite protests across the country.

The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition changed trespass laws in 2014 to remove homeowners’ right to block fracking under their houses, and in 2016 ministers overruled Lancashire County Council to allow Cuadrilla to frack at a previously rejected site. Energy Minister Claire Perry said last month rules forcing companies to halt operations if they cause earthquakes could be ditched.

Communities at fracking sites across the country have been fighting against the government's “undemocratic support” of the companies.

Protester Becky Daniels, from the Preston New Road site in Lancashire, said: “The political system is failing us from local councils to central government. Democracy no longer exists, as seen with England’s ‘dash for gas’ and the systematic criminalisation of peaceful protest.

“If we do not act now, we face extinction. At the very least we will witness the breakdown of society as we know it.”

Since oil and gas firm Cuadrilla began fracking at Preston New Road two weeks ago, there have been more than 30 earthquakes in Lancashire.

Protester Tina Louise Rothery, also from the site, said they were rebelling to protect all life since the government has “failed us all.”

She said: “The safe quality of our air, water and soil must be addressed now as a matter of urgency.

"The government must face us and face up to its responsibilities – the decisions made now will bring the wrath or gratitude of future generations. We are non-violent but what we demand is non-negotiable.”

Extinction Rebellion will be holding a series of events leading up to Rebellion Day on November 17 at Parliament Square, London, where protesters are expected to take part in acts of civil disobedience including road and bridge blocks.

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