Portsmouth Extinction Rebellion admits national disruption has ‘hurt’ local climate change progress

EXTINCTION Rebellion campaigners say the drastic action taken by their national counterparts have hindered their efforts in Portsmouth.

Saturday, 21st December 2019, 1:13 pm
Updated Sunday, 22nd December 2019, 1:29 pm
Setting out their stall - the Extinction Rebellion stand in Commercial Road Picture: Chris Moorhouse (211219-22)

Members of the nationwide campaign group based in the city have vowed to take more ‘moderate’ action to bring about change.

It comes following a demonstration in Commercial Road, where the group invited members of the public to write environmental requests in a Christmas card for MP Stephen Morgan and council leader Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson.

Selma Heimedinger, Portsmouth’s 19-year-old co-ordinator, says members of the public are sometimes wary of her, due to the association with the national disruption.

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From left, Chris Price, Selma Heimedinger and Nathan Widdowson of Extinction Rebellion in Commercial Road Picture: Chris Moorhouse (211219-26)

She said: ‘People hear the name Extinction Rebellion and think about the protests that blocked the tube lines in London, or the airports.

‘The things the main Extinction Rebellion group does can make us unpopular with some people.

‘Before that action went ahead there was a consensus here in Portsmouth that it was a bad idea - blocking public transport does more harm than good since that’s what we want people to use instead of their cars.’

Looking ahead to the new year, Portsmouth’s Extinction Rebellion campaigners are optimistic about the way the city will approach climate change.

‘We work very closely with Portsmouth City Council and Stephen Morgan is really supportive of us,’ she said.

‘We’ve found that co-operating with the council has worked better than trying to be disruptive.

‘There are things in Portsmouth that we’re passionate about campaigning for, such as a congestion charge to combat air pollution, and we’ll do everything we can to make these things happen.’

While the campaigners look to bring about change in the ‘right way’ their Christmas card to the politicians included further climate change suggestions from members of the public.

Suggestions included a clampdown on toxic fumes in the city and a clean-up operation at Farlington Marshes.

Selma hopes that people will back the Extinction Rebellion campaign as it continues to grow.

She said: ‘Generally speaking people have been very supportive, despite the national actions that we’ve disagreed with.

‘Hopefully more people will join our fight as we move forward.’