Over the weekend, a large number of climate activists gathered in central London for a demonstration organized by Extinction Rebellion (XR). Dubbed ‘The Big One,’ the event took place from April 21st to 24th and attracted an estimated 50,000 participants. The atmosphere in Parliament Square was good-natured, with many attendees dressing in costumes, such as the iconic red-robed XR protesters, and others wearing masks representing the King and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
53rd Earth Day: A Call for Action
The demonstration coincided with the 53rd Earth Day, a global environmental movement that began in 1970. Wildlife presenter Chris Packham delivered an impassioned speech urging everyone who cares about the planet to join XR’s efforts. Packham emphasized that the protesters’ goal was to build as broad a community as possible, stressing the urgency of taking action to protect life on Earth, including humans.
Inclusive Protest for Families and Potential Supporters
In an effort to make ‘The Big One’ more inclusive and avoid alienating potential supporters, XR did not attempt to block any streets or bridges in London. As a result, many families attended the protest with their children, aiming to inspire the next generation to join the fight against climate change. Edwina Lawson, a 42-year-old mother who attended the protest with her children, told PA news agency that XR’s protests were easier for families to support than those of more radical groups like Just Stop Oil, though she expressed admiration for the courage of such activists.
Lawson expressed her concern about the lack of attention given to the climate crisis by those in power and emphasized the potential for job creation through renewable energy sources. She believes that transitioning to renewable energy is the top priority in addressing climate change.
On Sunday, the protest continued while the TCS London Marathon took place, with tens of thousands of runners participating. XR had previously coordinated with TCS organizers to ensure the marathon would not be disrupted by the ongoing demonstration.
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