Portsmouth Extinction Rebellion stages 'oily' protest outside city centre banks in day of action

ACTIVISTS from environmental group Extinction Rebellion have dumped fake oil outside banks in the city centre as part of a day of action.

Thursday, 1st April 2021, 4:17 pm

The group staged the protest outside branches of Barclays and HSBC in Commercial Road to highlight the money that businesses invest in fossil fuels.

Fake oil – made from water and dye – was poured over children’s toys outside the two banks, highlighting how future generations stand to be affected by continuing fossil fuel use.

Barclays and HSBC have invested more than £100 billion in the fossil fuel industry since the Paris Climate Agreement in 2016.

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Extinction Rebellion activist Selma Heimedinger before dumping fake oil into a children's paddling pool in front of the Barclays branch in Commercial Road. Picture: Richard Lemmer

Activist Selma Heimedinger said: ‘The protest represents the fossil fuel industry’s direct impact that it will have on our children’s future.

‘Years of petitions and letter writing have not worked, so now we need non-violent, direction action – that’s what will bring change in our society.

‘Take a letter into your bank, saying that you don’t agree with their (investment in the fossil fuel industry). Consider switching – and changing your pension too.’

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The protest in Portsmouth is part of a national day of action from Extinction Rebellion. Picture: Richard Lemmer

The protest is the latest in a series organised by the Portsmouth group since its founding in 2019, including a mass-cycle along Eastern Road to highlight the road’s danger to cyclists last June.

Mounting concern about the state of the environment saw The News launch its Going for Green campaign last month, a major effort to help the city become carbon neutral by 2030.

Responding to the Extinction Rebellion protest, a spokeswoman from Barclays said the bank committed to ‘aligning’ all of its financing with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

She said: ‘We have made a commitment to align our entire financing portfolio to the goals of the Paris Agreement, with specific targets and transparent reporting, on the way to achieving our ambition to be a net zero bank by 2050.

Activists from Extinction Rebellion targeted Barclays and HSBC branches in Commercial Road. Picture: Richard Lemmer

‘We believe that Barclays can make a real contribution to tackling climate change and help accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.’

HSBC has been approached for comment.

The next Portsmouth Extinction Rebellion event will see the group take part in a ‘Kill The Bill’ protest in Guildhall Square this Saturday.

Campaigning groups from across the city will come together to rally against the proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021, which gives police sweeping powers to curtail protests.

Selma said: ‘I could get 10 years in prison for doing a protest like this if the bill goes through.

‘It does concern me.’

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