The global environmental movement, which use non-violent disobedience to compel government action on climate change, have today flocked to Trafalgar Square to begin a two-week-long protest. Hundreds descended on the capital on Monday to demand the government divest from fossil fuel companies, with the protest due to take place at different locations in London. The group claimed the protest would be “joyous” and have a “celebratory” feel while also highlighting the billions poured into fossil fuels by financiers in London’s financial district.
Extinction Rebellion, who Ms Patel once branded as “criminals”, said thousands were expected to take part in the protest which plans to “target the root cause of the climate and ecological crisis”.
Indeed, last year Ms Patel claimed Extinction Rebellion activists were a threat to the foundations of British life after the climate group disrupted the distribution of some newspapers.
Yet, Mr Woodcock, a former Labour MP turned peer, reassured Extinction Rebellion activists that he did not consider the movement to be extreme.
Mr Woodcock, who also worked as an aide to former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, was asked this year by the Home Office to examine disruption and violence caused by extreme political groups.
He said on a Zoom video conference: “You’re worried that I want to label everyone that supports Extinction Rebellion as extremist but that is certainly not the case.
“I have become increasingly convinced of the need to act further and faster than we have [on climate change].
“I supported the Labour party’s position of declaring a climate emergency [in parliament] but what comes from that is not clear in my mind.”
However, Mr Woodcock admitted he might describe some parts of the group as extreme in his report, and claimed there were concerns that far-left groups might be infiltrating the movement.
“Together we must all stand firm against the guerilla tactics of Extinction Rebellion.”
Ms Patel’s comments came after over 100 protestors used vehicles and bamboo structures to block roads outside the Newsprinters printing works in Hertfordshire and Liverpool.
The presses were responsible for News UK titles including the Sun, Times and the Daily Mail.
Ms Patel said the group were “Attempting to thwart the media’s right to publish without fear nor favour.”
Furthermore, their civil disobedience was a “shameful attack on our way of life, our economy and the livelihoods of the hard-working majority.”
Weeks ago, a UN scientific report highlighted how human activity was changing the planet in unprecedented and irreversible ways.
The report, which was released less than three months before the climate summit in Glasgow known as COP26, was described by the UN head Antonio Guterres as a “code red for humanity.”
He added: “If we combine forces now, we can avert a climate catastrophe.
“But, as today’s report makes clear, there is no time for delay and no room for excuses.”