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YOUNG film-maker Jack Harries is among nine Extinction Rebellion activists who pleaded not guilty today to criminal damages charges.
This week I was one of nine activists arrested for protesting outside the International Petroleum Conference in London. I didn’t set out to be arrested, I never have been before and I’m not here to endorse the act. 13 hours in a cell isn’t fun… But this is the action I chose to take because, frankly, I am terrified for the state of my future and we have run out of time. The conference is an annual event in which all the biggest names in the gas and oil industry meet to network, discuss the future of their industry and figure out how to make more money. (That they really don’t need) Science clearly tells us that we must keep two thirds of fossil fuels in the ground if we are to curb carbon emissions and stay below a 2 degrees rise in temperature. However this is an industry that has no intention of stopping, an industry who have consistently focused on corporate profits and short term gain at the expense of our future. Just 25 companies are responsible for 50% of carbon emissions. Forget changing your light bulbs and having shorter showers, these are the real climate criminals. Climate change is the greatest social justice issue of our time. 99% of climate related deaths occur in the world’s least developed countries even though those countries contribute to just 1% of emissions. The future will see extreme weather patterns, sea level rise, mass migration and disease. This may sound alarmist, and I wish it was, but it is unfortunately fact. Climate change is not something happening in the future, it is happening now, it is not just an urgent issue... it is an emergency. Whilst we can’t choose whether we will be affected by climate change (most of us will), we can choose whether we will be bystanders.:@extinctionrebellion
A post shared by Jack Harries (@jackharries) on Mar 2, 2019 at 12:34pm PST
The “Petroleum Nine” were arrested for gluing themselves to the doors of the Intercontinental Hotel in London as part of a non-violent protest to disrupt a fossil fuel networking event on February 27.
Activists took action to prevent company executives entering the conference, protesting against the role of the industry in causing climate change.
Ahead of the hearing at Westminster magistrates’ court, Mr Harries said that “young people have run out of options to make their voices heard.”
The defendants pleaded not guilty at the hearing based on the right to freedom of conscience under the European Convention of Human Rights.
Although the approach is not a defence for criminal damage, the activists hope the court considers the reasons for their actions and will minimise their sentence.
One of the defendants, 22-year-old Sam Knights, said it was a shame they were in court while the companies they were protesting against “are allowed to continue their criminal behaviour.”
He said: “Oil and gas companies are complicit in the destruction of our planet. They are complicit in the floods, and the storms, and the wildfires.
“They are responsible for this crisis — just as they are responsible for the system they uphold. A political and economic system that does not care about my future, that only cares about profit.”
The Petroleum Nine are currently on unconditional bail and will appear in court again in July.
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