LONDON: Amid mounting protests from climate activists, the UK is eager to present its environmental credentials ahead of the next COP26 summit.
The Direct Action Group Extinction Rebellion has identified the cities and is committed to doing the same at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow later this month.
In recent weeks, the previously unheard of off-shot, Insulate UK, has also caused motorway and road closures, leading to several arrests and court restraints.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday described the protests as “disturbing” and welcomed “new powers in prison to separate them from where they belong”.
The government is on track to reduce carbon emissions and ensure that the new commitments to reduce global warming are met at the summit.
But it also hints at a widespread right-wing British press that is increasingly hostile to workers, calling them “environmental mobs” and “eco-friendly.”
Both Rebellion and Insult Britain have been accused of endangering lives with their tactics, including sticking to tarmac and sitting in front of traffic during rush hour.
On Monday, footage showed a frustrated driver begging through a protest in south London to follow his ambulance to take his mother to hospital.
Beards and woolen hats.
When Roger Helm, the founder of the Extinction Rebellion, was asked if he would stop an ambulance from taking a dying patient, his answer was simply: “Yes.”
But other workers disagree.
“We are heartbroken by all of this. We are not going out to stop ambulances from passing by,” said Tim Spears of Insulate UK.
Spears, a 36-year-old from Cornwall in south-west England, bears little resemblance to an environmentalist’s media caricature.
Spears, a clean-shaven, sharp-spoken and former professional poker player, said he gave up his old life to fight climate change through civil disobedience.
“As soon as they come out with a meaningful statement that they will go ahead with their job, they will meet their goals, I will get off the road,” he said.
“I can’t sit still when this government completely fails the citizens who have a duty to protect.”
The UK has seen many environmental demonstrations in the past, such as infrastructure projects such as the Road Bypass near Newbury in the West of England in the 1990s.
Daniel Hooper, nicknamed “Swamp”, was one of the workers who tried to stop construction by digging a tunnel under the site, and reappeared at another protest in London earlier this year.
He is suing other campaigners, including the millionaire landlord and the publisher’s children, for trying to stop the construction of the HS2 high-speed railway line.
The HS2 rebel group spent several days in tunnels they had secretly dug near the Euston Main Line terminal.
On Monday, Spears was outside London’s royal court as more than 100 protesters from the group were barred from blocking roads.
Some sports beards and woolen hats, but most were drawn from a diverse range of backgrounds, from parents and their children to the elderly and even members of the clergy.
Janine Eagling, a 60-year-old retired IT consultant, said that after 30 years of environmental campaigning, she joined Insolate UK because of the need for immediate action.
‘We are in a worse position than ever’
“We are in a worse position than before. We are releasing C02 as if there is no tomorrow, which is literally no tomorrow if we continue like this,” he said.
“It simply came to our notice then that we were disrupting people’s daily lives.
Home Secretary Priti Patel on Tuesday announced new measures to tackle Insulate UK, which wants all British homes to be environmentally friendly and more.
She said she would not tolerate “environmental fighters violating our way of life and wasting police resources” as she announced plans to criminalize motorway obstructions and infrastructure interference.
Insult Britain called Patel and other ministers “cowards” and warned that blaming campaigners would do more harm than good in the long run.
“Shooting the messenger can never end the message: our country is facing the biggest threat ever and our government is failing us,” he said.
A planned rally of 50,000 to 100,000 people could take place in Glasgow during the summit.
Police Scotland, which is deploying around 10,000 officers each day in a two-week meeting, said it would help with peaceful demonstrations and “somewhat illegal protests”.
But he warned that “action must be taken when the protest conference’s ability to function begins to be affected.”