On the fourth day of extinction rebellion protests against climate change in London and other cities worldwide, protesters tried unsuccessfully to close London City Airport, although they did manage to delay some flights and cause disruption.

On the fourth day of protests in the British capital, streets around parliament and Whitehall remained closed to traffic except for cyclists.

Tents have been cleared from roads leading up to parliament square but there is still a heavy police presence in the area. 

By Thursday, almost 850 people had been arrested and 29 people charged with various offenses with seven due to appear at Westminster Magistrates Court on Thursday, according to sources in the Metropolitan Police.

City Airport Holdup

But most of the action was at London City Airport. A former Paralympic cyclist bronze medallist managed to clamber onto the roof of a British Airways Embraer 190 bound for Amsterdam.

The former Olympic medallist who is visually impaired live-streamed his actions on Facebook, writing:

“OK, here I am, top of a f****** aeroplane at City Airport. I managed to get on the roof,” he said.

“Oh man, I’m shaking… This is all about the climate and ecological crisis. We’re protesting at government inaction on climate and ecological breakdown. They declare a climate emergency and do nothing about it,” he continued.

Hong Kong Style Occupation

Extinction Rebellion had been planning what they called a three-day “Hong Kong-style shutdown” of the terminal building at City Airport. They are protesting the “incompatibility” of the airports planned £2billion expansion with the government’s legally binding self-imposed objective of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The BBC Newsnight reporter, Nicholas Watt, was on a flight bound for Dublin when just as the plane was about to take off, a man jumped up from his seat and began walking up and down the aisle lecturing the rest of the passengers on climate change.

When he refused to go back to his seat, the pilot decided to return to the terminal building and the protestor was removed by police. The plane eventually took off for Dublin two hours late.

Several protestors glued themselves to the floor inside the terminal building and near the departure gates including a former metropolitan police detective John Curran.

“There are many areas of our lives that are going to have to change because of the climate crisis we’ve created, and one of them is flying. We can’t carry on with life, with business as usual,” a 51-year-old activist called Claire told the PA news agency.

 Several protesters also blocked roads outside the terminal building where traffic had backed up to the intense irritation of black cab drivers.

“It’s disturbing everyone’s life; working, travel in and out of the airport,” Jack Lempiere, a taxi driver, told the BBC.

Although the protest managed to create problems, as of lunchtime today more than 100 flights had taken off or landed at the airport and it was a far cry from a Hong Kong-style shutdown.

Photo from Evening Standard

Edward Cowley