Environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion is launching in Portsmouth

AN ENVIRONMENTAL activist group known for taking some extreme measures to protest will be launching a campaign in Portsmouth next week.

Friday, 1st March 2019, 2:09 pm
Updated Friday, 1st March 2019, 3:15 pm
An Extinction Rebellion protest in London last month Picture: Isabel Infantes/PA Wire

Extinction Rebellion is an international group that pushes for radical change in people’s approach to the environment – using any non-violent means possible to make this happen.

The group, which says we are facing a ‘global climate emergency’ will officially launch in Portsmouth on Monday.

Co-ordinator Nicholas Day says that local authorities are ‘obsessed’ with Brexit, to the point where climate change is being overlooked.

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‘There has been a social silence on climate change recently,’ he said. ‘People aren’t discussing it like they used to, while environmental bodies like the IPCC are pressing the panic button.

‘Local authorities are so wound up with Brexit that they are ignoring this completely.’

The group’s aim in Portsmouth, according to Mr Day, is simple – to make the city carbon neutral by 2030.

He explained: ‘We already have a motion that is going through to Portsmouth City Council.

‘We want them to discuss that there is a carbon emergency and find a way of stopping that.

‘Extinction Rebellion is a growing movement and Portsmouth is a key location – we want less air pollution with greener businesses and a healthier environment for the next generation.’

The group has been known to use extreme direct action – just yesterday nine activists were arrested after they glued themselves to a London hotel, where an oil conference was taking place.

But Mr Day insists that direct action like this will not be their first option, but refused to rule it out if things don't go to plan.

He said: ‘We don’t see what we do as extreme – what’s extreme is to continue on a path towards extinction. Blocking a road is a rational response to the social silence we are experiencing.

‘If the council is up for changing their ways without any extreme pressure then that’s great, but if it looks like they will sign up and not go through with it, then there is a place for direct action.’

Portsmouth City Council leader, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, says the council is keen to work on an ‘ambitious' goal for zero emissions – but has warned that any direct action ‘must’ be done peacefully.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘Trying to make Portsmouth a carbon neutral city is a very good thing to do.

‘It’s good to hear an ambitious target like this and I fully support it.

‘Direct action sometimes has its place – women wouldn't have the vote without the Suffragettes, for example – but this group cannot do it just for the sake of it. It’s about making sure that these things happen in a peaceful manner.’

The Portsmouth launch is at 7.15pm on Monday at the Somerstown Community Hub in Rivers Street.