Three and a half years ago Phil, with eight other members of Grandparents for a Safe Earth, was involved in occupying the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in London for eight hours (see https://youtu.be/wirtoS-kbvY). Although Grandparents for a Safe Earth is not currently active, some of its members have joined Extinction Rebellion and other environmental groups.
26.11.21. Another Black Friday, another spike in greenhouse gas emissions. Protestors, old and young, were out in Bristol, blocking the entrance to AMAZON distribution centre. They were concerned at the increase in AMAZON’s “contribution” to these emissions during the COVID-19 pandemic – Black Friday being symbolic of AMAZON’s carelessness about the problem. Read an account in the local paper and watch the 8-minute video clip by following this link: https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/amazon-depot-avonmouth-blocked-48-6264098?utm_source=bristol_live_newsletter&utm_campaign=daily_newsletter2&utm_medium=email
06.11.21 During the international COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow, a variety of local groups were out campaigning: here in Bristol UK.
April 2021. Contempt of Court action at Westminster Magistrates Court on 29th April 2021
“On 3rd October 2019, I and three companions took part in a protest at the UK Treasury. Our reason for doing that was that a section of The Treasury which made loans to poor countries was using some of these for infrastructure which promoted fossil fuels, thus adding to climate breakdown.
We spray-painted a part of The Treasury wall with a washable plant-based red dye which could easily be removed.
We were charged with criminal damage and the plea hearing was heard at Westminster Magistrates Court on 29th April. My co-defendants are Buddhists and I am joyful that this is an inter-faith action.
Because of the dire urgency of the developing climate catastrophe, we decided that we would interrupt those Court proceedings and thus be in Contempt of Court and accept whatever consequences that might carry. Our principal interruption was to make personal statements. This is my statement:
‘‘I am here today to work for the security and well-being of my grandchildren as they face the unfolding catastrophe of climate breakdown. It is not me who should be on trial but the UK Government for its complete failure to safeguard my grandchildren and their generation across the world. Where is this government’s moral base when it consistently places the economy before the probability of a life of suffering for them?
I regard this court as complicit in this government crime.
I am a Christian so I care about you judge and all persons who are administering these court proceedings. I care for your children and grandchildren as I care for my own. I hope that one day you will realise what you are doing and resign from this judicial system. It is only in a social, political and economic system of mutual care and cooperation that a semblance of a truly human life will develop. I will stand for that as long as I have life.’’
Because I have a back injury, I was given permission to attend via internet video. The Court arranged to hear me first. None of my co-defendants were present at the time. When the judge asked my name, I began to speak my statement and had almost come to the end of it when the video link was cut.
One co-defendant, Dr. Diana Warner, told me that the rest of the proceedings were largely interrupted by her and the others. She and they made their own statements/ We had agreed beforehand that if I was excluded they would also read mine. I am moved that they did that because It involved them in saying ‘‘I am a Christian’’. This expressed our mutual respect for one-another’s faith. For some reason, Dr. Warner was the only defendant present when the judge brought the proceedings to an end. To her surprise, he asked her if she had anything else she would like to say, so she spoke about the unfolding catastrophe of climate breakdown and what it is predicted to mean for all of our children and grandchildren. She said that the atmosphere in the court had changed to one where the judge and all others listened attentively.
The judge made no reference to our contempt of court so we each ended the day as free people. I have no idea why he took that decision”. (Phil Kingston is a founder member of Grandparents for a Safe Earth).
January 2021. Fi Radford, one of the founders of Grandparents for a Safe Earth UK, has sadly died recently, and there was a lovely obituary of her in The Guardian last week (30th December 2020): Fi Radford obituary | Extinction Rebellion | The Guardian.
Although Grandparents for a Safe earth is not currently an active group, this obituary should serve as an inspiration to fellow elders and grandparents in our own small attempts to bring about change.
09.11.19. Did you miss the “Barclays clean up your act day” on 9th November, when old and younger XR group members up and down the country went to their local branch of Barclays Bank with buckets, mops and cloths to give it a good “clean”? The High Street banks are involved in investing in dirty fossil fuels, despite their adverts about green energy, but in the UK Barclays is currently the worst. The Arctic, rainforests, deep oceans and tar sands- they’re there, and many of us leafleted and spoke to passers-by and staff about this, and encouraged them to consider switching their accounts.
15.10.19 A large group of grandparents (and many others) gathered outside Buckingham Palace in London yesterday, after an impromptu call to form an Extinction Rebellion Grandparents affinity group. The Police tried to ban the XR two-week protest (which is soon due to come to an end anyway) a couple of days ago, but groups keep popping up. Here are some moving accounts on YouTube: https://youtu.be/Vlw-ivUtHAY.
During the previous ten days, hundreds of thousands of people, old and young, joined a two-week long Extinction Rebellion protest in London, moving from site to site (Lambeth Bridge, Parliament Square, Home Office (see YouTube clip), Trafalgar Square, City Airport, as police moved in https://youtu.be/M8bdzGZrTW0,
20th September 2019. Young people across the world, and supported by adults of all ages were out in 4000 (four thousand) locations across the world, protesting about inadequate action in the face of climate collapse. Grandparents in Bristol apologized to the young for messing up the climate and encouraged them to tell politicians they wouldn’t vote for them, and the shops that they wouldn’t buy from them. See a video clip here: https://youtu.be/BkKNh8XCYuE .
- Lest we forget: It’s only three weeks ago (15th May) that this photo was taken – an elder locked on under a lorry that had been parked at Marble Arch to form a stage during the recent climate change demonstrations in London. Marble Arch has now returned to its role as a major traffic junction, but the climate is still warming up.
- 5 minute video of first three days of XR Taunton protest in London here: https://youtu.be/CZ4k54z4xJI
- 16th April 2019. Extinction Rebellion XR have occupied Waterloo Bridge in London for two days so far in their demand for adequate government response (other simultaneous protests in Edinburgh, Nottingham and in 80 other towns in 30 countries . Excellent interest from the public. There have been over 200 arrests so far, including many elderly people who are prepared to remain in London for days to come. Public transport was disrupted and it was regretted that so many members of the public were affected.
- 11th April 2019.
A group of 15 XR cyclists, mostly old, pause in Taunton, on their way from Falmouth in Cornwall to the big climate demonstration in London from Monday next week. The previous Saturday about 400 Extinction Rebels (XR) had marched through the centre of town, at first in a silent funeral march, followed by a die-in, and later headed by a samba band.
End March 2019
Climate Change at the crossroads: A number of Seniors join an XR (Extinction Rebellion)March for Life group en route (on foot) from Land’s End to London for the International Climate Rebellion Week starting 15th April (video clip at: https://youtu.be/au-nFgN1qDE. Many XR groups across the country are active in the weeks leading up to the Rebellion Week (including Taunton High Street 6th April 11 am).
Let us know via the contact page on this website what seniors will be doing/have done in your area. We hope to have another newsletter ready before long.
Passim 15th March 2019. Many School children from across the world protested on this day of action against an adult generation that has served their future well-being badly. This photo from Taunton in Somerset, where some grandparents and other adults joined in solidarity.
London 9th March 2019. Grandparents Fi Radford and I took part in the ‘Blood of our children on our hands’ Extinction Rebellion Protest in London on 9th March. Hearing the impassioned and knowledgeable statements of the fifteen or so speakers aged between 10 and 20, moved and inspired me. This event had been arranged in liaison with the police. They knew that we would be pouring artificial blood on the road and whilst they agreed to that as being within our right of public protest, they said that if we carried it out we would be arrested for criminal damage.
The police closed Whitehall to traffic and people, dressed in black, walked in silence along Whitehall to the entrance to Downing Street. A single ring of a bell marked the slow pace. The young people led the way, followed by about forty-five of us who carried buckets of artificial blood. When we reached Downing Street we stood in an arc facing it, with the young people and many supporters behind. Still in silence, we poured the ‘blood’ down the camber of the road towards Downing Street and sat down behind the empty buckets.
The young people each then spoke for up to two minutes and the words of some of them are on this 4-minute video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LW02kNbpAmU
Please send it far and wide to encourage the developing school children’s and student’s strikes; and for all ages to take part in Extinction Rebellion’s international week of action from 15TH to 20th April to draw attention to the environmental and social catastrophe which the world is currently on track for, and which governments – and almost all major opposition parties – are not even speaking the truth about, yet alone taking meaningful action. This rebellion is in the hands of us ordinary people. Only a determined mass movement will force those who currently wield political power to face the truth and act accordingly.
20th and 21st February 2019 Taunton Somerset: Somerset County Council and West Somerset & Taunton Deane Council have now joined the list of councils declaring a climate emergency. But will their pensions committees change their policy on their own fossil fuels investments? Our pensions campaign continues.
The police decided to arrest no-one. Phil Kingston
15th February 2019: In Bristol and Taunton a number of grandparents went to support young people who had taken time off from school to protest around climate change. In Bristol approximately 1 000 young people, in Taunton about 50 turned out (for Taunton see YouTube link https://youtu.be/wgQkQms1NDM), some in school uniform to make the point that education is of limited use in a collapsing world. Speeches and marches were energetic, passionate and at times angry, but peaceful. Similar protests took place in about 60 towns around the country, as well as on the Continent.
30th January Taunton Somerset. More than 150 people including Grandparents turned up for first meeting of XR Extinction Rebellion in Taunton. Much more to follow…Follow us
18th January 2019, Bristol Airport. About a hundred protestors affiliated to Extinction Rebellion Bristol demonstrated against plans to extend Bristol Airport. An extension would lead to climate-damaging pollution above from the planes, and from car-congestion below. After a “die-in” to emphasize the point, Member of European Parliament Molly Scott-Cato addressed the protestors.
12th January 2019, Glastonbury, Somerset. Not a festival, but a quiet funereal procession organized by Extinction Rebellion Glastonbury, to remind us of all the species that have become and are becoming extinct. The coffin containing children’s animal toys added poignancy to our concerns about the future facing “our” children and grandchildren. More on YouTube: https://youtu.be/csxGSsy26zQ
It is easy to forget that species extinction is one aspect of climate change, and the horse seems to be saying: “Shouldn’t it be Grandparents and horses for a Safe Earth?”
Friday 21st December 2018 There was a protest outside the studio/offices of the BBC in Whiteladies Road, Bristol. Organized by Extinction Rebellion, it involved a number of grandparents and many others, against the under-reporting by BBC of climate change issues, including the recent Climate Talks in Katowice, Poland. Others phoned their local BBC radio stations, expressing concerns about the failure to broadcast issues about climate change adequately. If you are concerned about this issue, why not phone the national BBC feedback number (0370 010 0222), but prepare your concern first – you will only receive an Answerphone!
15th December 2018 Bristol and Cardiff. A number of Grandparents joined about 200 others in an Extinction Rebellion event in Central Bristol. This coincided with the final day of the climate change talks in Katowice. The event included speeches, a climate-change version* (acknowledgement to author unknown) of the carol Twelve Days of Christmas, a die-in to commemorate those who have already died as a result of climate change, a choir, and a march to City Hall/Council House. (* On the 12th day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, 12 years and counting, 11 wells a-fracking, Number 10 ignoring, 9 feet sea rising, 8 million hectares felling, 7 lands a-warring, 6 in 10 are dying, LOTS OF PLASTIC THINGS!, 4 degrees C warmer, 30 years till starving, 2 icecaps a-melting, and a Climate emergency.) At the same time there was an Extinction Rebellion event in Cardiff, where the weather was considerably wetter and windier!
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”).Una