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Existential crisis 'must be at top of news agenda'




Extinction Rebellion protest outside BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, December 21st, 2018
Extinction Rebellion protest outside BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, December 21st, 2018

The Extinction Rebellion (XR) movement staged a protest outside the office of BBC Radio Cambridgeshire today (December 21) as part of a national day of action.

The organisation, which is demanding governments declare a climate emergency to combat climate change, stood outside the doors of the BBC site on Cambridge Business Park from 7am to 9am on Friday.

The Extinction Rebellion team was “pre-briefed on how to engage with the staff in a non-violent way while requesting their have five minutes of their time before they go in,” according to Nathan Williams, one of the speakers.

The demonstrators’ demands include:

  1. For the Government to agree to a zero carbon strategy by 2025
  2. To publish “all the facts in carbon data for all BBC sites”
  3. To take a lead in encouraging everyone to take the “existential crisis” more seriously
  4. Only to allow guests to appear on the BBC where their funding is fully transparent.
  5. To make climate change the broadcaster's "top editorial issue"

“Nobody has the right to bring genocide to the planet,” said Tony Booth, a Professor at the University’s Department of Education, as he stood in the doorway.

To the tune of “We wish you a merry Christmas”, the 40-strong crowd sang: “We wish you divest a pension, we wish you divest a pension, we wish you divest a pension and cancel Top Gear”.

Pre-dawn Winter Solstice activism outside BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
Pre-dawn Winter Solstice activism outside BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

Another chant went: “Tony Hall [current director-general of the BBC] it’s time to act, climate breakdown is a fact”.

The chants – an amusing feature of this good-natured event which followed the “lie-ins” at The Grafton and Grand Arcade on Saturday (December 16) – are “a collaborative effort, there’s been a bit of discussion” according to megaphone user Dave McKenny.

One BBC staff member and one guest on a show was given a five-minute explanation of the 12-year window humanity now has to avoid catastrophic levels of global warming predicted if the earth warms up beyond 1.5 degrees Centrigrade. At the sharp end only two people negotiated the group to get into the premises. One, apparently a BBC employee, refused to enter into a discussion with the group and declined to give his name. Another, "Mark from Cambridge Brew House”, pictured below, had views of his own.

“Everyone’s responsible,” he told the campaigners. “People have to do what they can.”

Tony Booth (holding placard) chats with Mark, a guest on a show, outside BBC Radio Cambridgeshire's front door for Extinction Rebellion
Tony Booth (holding placard) chats with Mark, a guest on a show, outside BBC Radio Cambridgeshire's front door for Extinction Rebellion

None of the protestors were asked on to any of the BBC’s scheduled programmes for the morning. The broadcaster issued the following statement: “We’ve received a letter from this newly-formed campaign group.

"The BBC has a proud record of leading the way in sustainability in the media industry and we’ve set out further action including cutting energy use further, eradicating single use plastic and minimising the impact of necessary travel. In the last Charter period, we reduced our carbon footprint by a third.

"People can also see the clear impact programmes like Blue Planet II and Dynasties have had on public debate about the impact of humankind on the planet.”

Ben Anderson, second right, and Flo Scialom, right, were part of a good-natured Extinction Rebellion event
Ben Anderson, second right, and Flo Scialom, right, were part of a good-natured Extinction Rebellion event


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