Extinction Rebellion Cambridge brings rush hour traffic to a halt on Milton Road
Extinction Rebellion (XR) climate activists staged a roadblock on Cambridge’s Milton Road this morning (Thursday, January 23).
A group of 11 protesters blocked the road at the traffic lights just in front of the entrance to the Cambridge Science Park.
The group held up a banner which said ‘Climate Justice is Social Justice’, as well as signs and flags. They chanted and sang and via a loudspeaker shared messages of climate fears.
The protesters asked people to turn off their engines, get out of their cars and join them. No one did, but some sounded their horns in support as they passed.
Some members of the public objected to the campaigners, shouting “get out the road” and “you're not making things better”. A woman who was a passenger in a taxi got out to remonstrate with the group.
Jason Scott-Warren, a University of Cambridge lecturer and the man behind the megaphone, said: “I'm here to protest against government inaction on the climate and ecological emergencies.”
Extinction Rebellion are holding twice-weekly swarming events in the lead-up to the week-long Rebel for Justice event from February 16-23, during which it is pledging to “bring the city to a halt with a week-long roadblock” if Cambridge institutions do not meet “three local demands on climate and social justice”.
These are the University of Cambridge to cut its ties with the fossil fuel industry, Cambridge City Council holds a citizens’ assembly on climate justice, and Cambridgeshire County Council works with other relevant regional authorities to provide a plan for a just transition away from an inadequate transport system reliant on fossil fuels.
Jason said: “We're escalating our protests because we think that the government is not keeping us safe, it's not taking action commensurate with the climate crisis, and we're going to carry on causing as much disruption as we can until action is taken.”
He continued: “We get a lot of support from the public, a lot of people are on exactly the same page as us, people off the street are coming to join us.
“We feel very strongly supported by the public, we think everyone is afraid, we think everyone wants change.”
Also present was an Extinction Rebellion member not involved in the roadblock, who was unsure who exactly the protesters were targeting.
“Is it targeted at Trinity College [who owns the Business Park], or is it targeted at the businesses?” she asked Jason, who replied: “We decided that it was a little too dangerous to swarm the business park with the numbers that we've got, so we're just swarming this junction.”
The XR member insisted that she supported the group's message, but remained unsure about the merits of this particular objective, also noting that it was difficult for people in their cars to hear what was being said.
She said: “What's not clear to me as an XR member, let alone Joe Public that are driving, is that if you're aiming at Trinity College because of their investment in fossil fuel, Trinity College genuinely won't give a monkey's because they're landlords - all they care about is getting the rent from the businesses.”
Jason added: “Unless we do actions, nobody will give a monkey's. We're here blocking a major road junction. People need to know that there is a climate emergency. People need to stand up and be counted before the planet is destroyed.
“We were planning to target the fossil fuel investments of Trinity College and the university, but we do not have sufficient resources to do that - we are targeting the general public.”