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Extinction Rebellion Cambridge protest at the BBC over climate change coverage



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Extinction Rebellion (XR) Cambridge carried out a protest at the BBC’s Cambridge premises which saw the doorway blockaded as climate change activists accused the broadcaster of underreporting the scale of the climate emergency.

Extinction Rebellion outside the BBC premises on Cambridge Business Park, August 14, 2021. Picture: Derek Langley
Extinction Rebellion outside the BBC premises on Cambridge Business Park, August 14, 2021. Picture: Derek Langley

Starting at 9am, the group of around 30 people draped their banners, put up their placards and began chanting and drumming to highlight their concern that the actual impact of climate breakdown is being played down by the BBC.

The protest – to ‘sound the alarm’ and highlight their frustration and anger at “the BBC’s lack of in-depth coverage and trivialisation of climate breakdown” – also included a sound system through which loud music and sound montages were played, one of which was a “real weather report” predicting dangerous and terrifying weather conditions in the UK, highlighting that these weather events are already on our doorstep. The montages included a clip of an Australian driving through a fire – “this is unbelievable, I’ve never seen anything like it” – and a radio report from Palm Springs when the temperature was 123 degrees.

Extinction Rebellion protesting outside the BBC studios on Cambridge Business Park. Picture: Derek Langley
Extinction Rebellion protesting outside the BBC studios on Cambridge Business Park. Picture: Derek Langley

As the event got under way, one activist said the scale of action was way less than what is required to halt the seemingly inexorable poisoning of the planet’s air, sea and land.

“The government has declared a climate emergency, now we’re asking: ‘So what are you going to do about it?’”

Another criticised the BBC’s coverage of the climate emergency.

“We were here when this all started in 2018,” said another protester. “If anything, the BBCs coverage of the climate crisis has got worse in that time.”

The report also included soundbites by leading climate scientist Professor Sir David King, warning sirens, the sounds of rivers breaking over their banks and catastrophic weather events, as well as testimonies and a poem from the general public who are terrified about the future.

Extinction Rebellion outside the BBC studios on Cambridge Business Park, August 14, 2021. Picture: Derek Langley
Extinction Rebellion outside the BBC studios on Cambridge Business Park, August 14, 2021. Picture: Derek Langley

Sir David King, a government advisor and creator of the Climate Crisis Advisory Group, has said: “The rate of change of the global extreme weather events and things that are happening around the world today, are much more serious than we anticipated. We are about 70 years behind in terms of our predictions. We are seeing things today that the climate predictions said would not happen until the end of the century.”

One of the activists calling out the BBC said: “You are the British Broadcasting Corporation and the people need you to tell the truth. The IPCC sixth report has just been released. You have a moral duty to tell people the full extent of the future impact climate breakdown will have on their lives.”

The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, published on Monday (August 9), said: “Global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate. Warming from anthropogenic emissions from the pre-industrial period to the present will persist for centuries to millennia and will continue to cause further long-term changes in the climate system, such as sea level rise, with associated impacts.”

Extinction Rebellion protest near Cambridge Science Park, August 14,2021. Picture: Derek Langley
Extinction Rebellion protest near Cambridge Science Park, August 14,2021. Picture: Derek Langley

Over the last few weeks, extreme weather events have seen more than 100 died in floods in India, 200 die in floods in Germany and Belgium, and more than 300 were killed in floods in China. In North America, 200 died of extreme heat in Oregon and Washington, while nearly 500 people and 1 billion marine animals died of extreme heat in Canada. At least 65 people in India died in lightning storms. Wildfires have decimated large swathes of Siberia and Sardinia. From July into August, there were 132 wildfires in Turkey in six days. In London, torrential rain in late July caused the partial evacuation of two hospitals.

Today’s action comes as Extinction Rebellion activists from Cambridge and further afield gear up for the ‘Impossible Rebellion’, beginning on August 23 in London, which will call on the government to immediately drop all fossil fuel funding.

A BBC spokesperson said: “The BBC already covers many climate change and environmental issues across its output. We know how important these issues are to audiences and will continue to focus on them across both news and non-news programmes, whilst internally doing all we can to lead the way in promoting sustainability in the media industry.”

XR Cambridge climate activists outside the BBC studios on Cambridge Business Park, August 14, 2021. Picture: Derek Langley
XR Cambridge climate activists outside the BBC studios on Cambridge Business Park, August 14, 2021. Picture: Derek Langley


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