17th November 2018. Two of our members joined other protestors on Westminster Bridge in London, which together with four other Central London bridges, was closed for a time when protestors lay down in the street and refused to move. This was part of the Extinction Rebellion event which highlighted to Parliament nearby the extreme dangers of climate change and the slowness of our politicians’ response to this (seehttps://www.facebook.com/n/?video%2Fedit%2F&v=256401508378038&aref=1542581642400285&medium=email&mid=57af7fd3f0f4bG5af77be0e36bG57af846d5121dG3d&bcode=2.1542581644.AbxlXOpDr93dGsZQdBo&n_m=sigurdreimers%40hotmail.co.uk). Two other members joined another protest at the Department for Business, Energy and and Industrial Strategy where they were arrested for obstruction. This was followed by a demonstration by them outside the Brazilian Embassy against the new Brazilian president who has said he is prepared to sell the Brazilian rainforests for money.
November 2018: This month is being marked by protests supported by leading academics and scientists, and organized under the umbrella of Extinction Rebellion (for further details see https://rebellion.earth/). Although we are a non-sectarian and non-party-political organisation, we will sometimes support actions by other groups where one or more of our members takes part and the action conforms to our aims. And so it was that one of our members, who is also a member of Christian Climate Action, was involved in a peaceful non-violent protest at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (where eight of us were involved in a lock-on last summer). See newspaper reports in the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/12/climate-activists-glue-hands-to-uk-government-building-in-new-protest?CMP=share_btn_fb&fbclid=IwAR3RZJIrLG3xkv4wX1o_6lmlaIxJj_7ZJJDiEEPDQc7r-078_MsV1P_QGKM and in Bristol Evening Post: https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/climate-change-parliament-square-arrest-2178488. Protests continue, and especially on Saturday 17th November in Parliament Square in London.
21st October 2018 Bristol: We held our first Gathering at Hamilton House to discuss with other interested seniors where we should go next with our campaigning. We had a review of the dozen or so actions in the past year, ranging from running climate change study groups to a full lock-on at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in London. We had lunch together and discussed possibilities for the future. As yet, no further actions have been planned, but follow the section on Forthcoming Events.
9th October 2018 Bristol: The Grandparents joined other local protest groups in a demonstration outside the Council House (City Hall) in Bristol against the Governments intention to override elected local Councils when they refuse to issue planning permission for fracking for shale gas in their area. This, then, was a protest both about fracking (and its effect on the climate) and local democracy. The Grandparents then moved into the main Council chamber for a brief silent demonstration, with mouths taped up as a sign of democracy being stifled. See video clips on YouTube as follows: https://youtu.be/GAZg1Atbp6U; https://youtu.be/l7IwYhP9kwk.
22nd September Cardiff: Nine of us were joined by the choir Côr Cochion Caerdydd outside Barclays Bank for a protest against the bank’s policy on extracting fossil fuels, and the extreme danger these present to the climate. We were also supported by five local people, known to one of our members, as we leafleted and engaged in conversation with passers-by despite the heavy rain. For a brief video clip see these YouTube clips: https://youtu.be/z-00ah31fHY and : https://youtu.be/KDUpq4Bi0gc
8th September 2018, Taunton and Bristol. We were involved in the Global Day of Action: 850 events were run in 95 countries, coordinated by Riseforclimate.org and 350.org.
- In Taunton 40 protestors marched and leafleted the public in the High Street, with a particular message to local politicians about their responsibility for addressing climate change. (see two photos below). At the end they sang their local version of a Bob Dylan classic: “The climate it is a-changin'” (see video clip https://youtu.be/acVjfGQCrJg).
- (see two photos above, and look at YouTube film: https://www.facebook.com/richard.baxter.790/videos/10156878419394994/UzpfSTEwMDAxNDA1NjE3MDk5Njo0ODQyMjAxNjUzODk4NTI/) Grandparents for a Safe Earth joined with many Bristol Climate groups for a gathering organised by 350.org in solidarity with a worldwide demonstration to link grass roots activists to local politicians, asking the latter to ‘up their ambition’ to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Phil Kingston addressed them as follows: “Good afternoon dear companions. We carried a coffin here to remember everyone killed by climate breakdown. Just before the end of this gathering, Fi will announce a die-in on the stone walkway to symbolise our solidarity with their communities.There is an essential debate which is suppressed world-wide by corporations, mainstream media and most politicians. It is the causal relationship between the current global market economy and the destruction of Earth’s ecosystems. This destruction includes the destabilising of the world’s climate. It impacts the poorest peoples and this extraordinary world of other-than-human life. But it will hit hardest the generations who follow us. The present production and consumption systems are using one and a half Earths. There is only one; and the more we use or damage, the less our children and grandchildren will receive.Our call to every citizen and every politician who represents us, is that each of us finds the courage to speak about the damage which this economy is doing; and how essential it is to move rapidly to an economy which gives complete priority to the care of the Earth and the common good of all people; no-one excluded. To our political representatives, we especially say this: when you don’t expose and stand up to corporate power, it is we citizens, especially the poorest, who bear the financial costs. Even more important it is our sisters and brothers, here and across the world, who fear for the well-being of our descendants, and who suffer when hard-won democratic rights are undermined.My request to you and to myself, is openly to acknowledge that climate breakdown is happening: not future but now. We grandparents and elders want you to know that we are including civil disobedience in our actions; always with no verbal or physical violence to persons. To you who are elders, we want you to know that neither police, nor corporations, nor Government departments want to arrest us, let alone charge us. On the only occasion when we have been arrested, we were de-arrested when we were taken out of the bank. We have considerable social power if we are willing to use it.Our power is in speaking the truth about the realities I have referred to, and living with the costs, whatever they are. If we are asked what is more important than our grandchildren, I imagine that the answer will be ‘’nothing’’. I am grateful to be in your company.”
13th June 2018, London. Ten of us were involved in a lock-on protest at Westminster in Central London, in order to draw attention to our extreme concerns at the likelihood that the Secretary of State, Greg Clark, will shortly be giving permission for the extraction of shale gas from Cuadrilla’s site near Blackpool. Five of our members spent nearly six hours with their arms locked together through reinforced tubes, in order to prevent the police from removing them from the Department’s Reception area. A letter of protest to Greg Clark was also delivered.
As it turned out, the security officers made no attempt to remove the protesters, and the whole reception area was locked down throughout the day. The numerous visitors to the Department had to be directed to an entrance at the back of the building. The locked-on protesters were supported by two other members inside the reception area. These kept in touch by mobile phone with our three remaining members, who stood outside the building with banners and leaflets, and who engaged with passers-by, as well as deal with questions from various media organizaations, including a BBC TV interview. We received mostly supportive comments – including from a senior oceanographer who expressed grave concern about rising sea levels.
The Police visited the building initially, but found that there was no further cause for them to be involved. In their view no crime was being committed.
This action could not have taken place without the organizational and communications skills and experience of the campaigning group Reclaim the Power (www.reclaimthepower.org.uk) and the provision of technical backup and equipment. Numerous preparatory meetings had taken place in Bristol and in London. We were gratified by visits from another group of protestors who happened to be in London that day, and with whom we have had previous contact. Some of our members have already been to Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site, near Blackpool, where there have been continuing protests over a long period of time against shale gas extraction (“fracking”), and the attendant dangers to the environment from fracking. Our protest underlines the need for all fossil fuels, including fracked gas, to remain in the ground, in order to diminish the dangers from increasing Carbon Dioxide emissions to our climate. Fracked shale gas is a particularly dangerous greenhouse gas, as it contributes significantly to global warming. We are particularly concerned that if permission is given for commercial extraction of fracked gas at Preston New Road, this could form a precedent for numerous other applications for similar schemes to be given the thumbs-up.
We received well over twenty thousand hits on Facebook on the day, and a huge number of tweets and re-tweets. Articles were published the same day in newspapers ranging from Bristol Post to Blackpool Gazette. Although a BBC TV team interviewed us, the interview only appeared on BBC Somerset radio. A interview by SWLondoner can be seen on www.youtube.com by typing in Grandparents for a Safe Earth in the search box, where you can also find numerous other video clips from our earlier actions.
A brief, edited video of the action can be found on YouTube by clicking on the following link: https://youtu.be./wirtoS-kbvY. Members Pauline and Sigurd were interviewed by BBC Somerset Radio on 20th June, and another of our members will shortly be visiting Preston New Road again for the rolling protest there against Cuadrilla’s plans (see Facebook “Preston New Road Rolling Roadside Protest”).