XR has spearheaded a wave of protests in London since 15 April
After more than 10 days of action, protest group says it will voluntarily bring an end to current London blockades tomorrow
Extinction Rebellion, the group responsible for a wave of protests in London in support of rapid action to address climate change, has announced it will voluntarily end its blockades of Marble Arch and Parliament Square tomorrow afternoon, bringing an end to more than 10 days of action.
After capturing international attention with its efforts, which have seen thousands of protestors block roads and bring traffic to a standstill across the UK capital, Extinction Rebellion (XR) today said it would hold a “closing ceremony” in Hyde Park tomorrow at 5pm.
The announcement came as the protest group revealed it had Since the wave of protests began more than a week ago, 30,000 new backers or volunteers have offered their support to the environmental activist group. In the same period it has raised almost £200,000 – mostly in donations of between £10 and £50 – reaching a total of £365,000 since January.
“We will leave the physical locations but a space for truth-telling has been opened up in the world,” XR said in a statement posted on its website this afternoon. “We would like to thank Londoners for opening their hearts and demonstrating their willingness to act on that truth. We know we have disrupted your lives. We do not do this lightly. We only do this because this is an emergency.”
Earlier the protest group claimed its support had quadrupled over the past fortnight, with 30,000 new backers and volunteers offering their support, while it has also raised almost £200,000 in donations over the period. It said the figures showed the public was waking up to the scale of the climate crisis and pushing politicians to act.
But XR said its movement was “not just about symbolic actions” and urged supporters to go back to their communities and further spread calls for urgent action on climate change, although it also issued a warning to “expect more actions very soon”.
The protest group, which has previously staged a number of attention-grabbing protests to raise awareness about climate change – including several protestors stripping off in the House of Commons – launched its latest wave of action on 15th April, targeting key areas of central London including Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Circus, Waterloo Bridge, Parliament Square and Marble Arch.
Among its key demands, it is calling on the government to declare a climate and ecological emergency, reduce UK greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025, and to establish a “citizens’ assembly” to decide on actions needed to address climate change.
Despite criticism of XR’s disruptive action from some quarters, the movement has picked up widespread support from across the political divide, winning the qualified backing of Labour earlier this week, although the government has refused to meet directly with the protest group.
XR has also won the support of the business community, leading to the launch of XR Business – a new group made up of leading green business figures – and the CBI, which represents 190,000 UK companies, yesterday stating that the protest group was “asking all the right questions”.
After several days of occupation, protestors have already been removed by police from Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus and Waterloo Bridge, and more than 1,000 XR protestors are estimated to have been arrested since action began last week.
Tomorrow, however, XR said it would voluntarily leave its remaining bastions in Parliament Square and also Marble Arch, where on Monday thousands gathered to hear a speech from teenage climate campaigner Greta Thunberg.
Yesterday, Thunberg delivered a no-holds-barred speech to MPs and officials in Westminster, which led to Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry responding later with a detailed defence of the government’s record on decarbonisation.
In today’s statement, XR paid tribute to Thunberg for her visit to the UK “and the pivotal role she has played in putting the future of young people at the heart of this international movement for change”.
XR decision to ends it current wave of direct action in London comes at a crucial time in the green economy calendar, with the Committee on Climate Change set to deliver a hotly-anticipated report next week assessing the UK’s ability to set a net zero emission target for the middle of the century.