Climate change activists linked with the Extinction Rebellion movement in Bristol join hundreds across the UK in urging the BBC to ‘tell the truth about climate change’.
Due to the 2018 IPCC report, Bristol declared a ‘climate emergency’ mid November this year, with independently collated data pointing to a dire ‘12 year window’ wherein the planet must limit it’s temperature rise to 1.5 degrees or risk what has been predicted to be ‘catastrophic disasters’.
BBC broadcasting houses have been besieged in eight different locations, including Sheffield, London and Manchester, where protesters have been urged to by their organisers to ‘make as much noise as possible’ with bullhorns, kitchenware and Christmas carols with altered lyrics.
Extinction Rebellion are a group focused with instigating radical changes in attitudes toward human environmental impact by targeting influential institutions capable of enacting these changes on a meaningful level.
Dr. Larch Maxey, a leader of the movement and a doctor in sustainability, said: “We are here to hold the BBC accountable for it’s lack of reporting and leadership on the climate emergency,”
“The Overton window has this notion that climate change is an issue for the future when in fact some reports claim we have as a little as two years to make a meaningful change,”
“We’ve been predicting this for 30 years and it’s coming home to roost, we just want the BBC to step forward and take this on with us because we’re running out of time,”
“The BBC commands a huge level of respect worldwide, there should be editorial priority for the climate change emergency that would resonate and affect radical change of attitude in an essential way.”
The group were also behind the ‘Rebellion Day’ protests on the 21st of November in London where Westminster Bridge and four other bridges were blocked and dozens were arrested and the Cabot Circus ‘die-in’ on Saturday the 15th of December which saw over two hundred protesters ‘play dead’ in the middle of Bristol’s most popular shopping centre.
The protests are to be supported in part by a campaign of open letters and emails sent to BBC Director General Tony Hall, inspired by Clare Farrel’s, outlining what is expected of the BBC in regards to their reporting of climate change, stating that it must publicly declare a ‘ecological climate emergency’.
Members of the Bristol branch of the Extinction Rebellion movement chained themselves to gates and doorways, surrounded by placards and Thermos’.
As the demonstration wore on for over 12 hours as BBC employees were sneaked out through side doors under the watchful eyes of ever present private security and a minor police presence.
Early reports of the BBC’s anticipated refusal to cover the demonstration were confirmed when the BBC stated to protesters that ‘they wouldn’t be coming out’ because they ‘didn’t report on security risks’.
However, after several statements released throughout the morning reaffirming the BBC’s ongoing commitment to combating climate change by ‘reducing [their] carbon footprint by a third’ and creating programmes that invoke conversation on humanities environmental impacts, such as ‘Planet Earth’ and ‘Blue Planet’, the BBC West and BBC Points West did eventually report on the demonstrations online and through broadcast.
Despite the inferred lack of coverage, the Extinction Rebellion movement is growing in numbers with participants travelling from all over the South West to support the cause.
Ben, 31, said: “I came here from Devon today, me and my partner have been to the London protests, the deceleration of rebellion,”
“There’s a threshold of personal comfort that’s important to broach when you come to these things, almost like a protest within yourself,”
“It’s important that we sacrifice our time to make our voices heard, this is an all encompassing message but when you’re a little ahead of the wave, figuratively and literally, people just think you’re a bit weird, but I’d rather be a bit weird and on the right side of history.”
Their message and their methods are certainly lost on some, one online observer pointed out that the BBC were simply the choice of the most exposure rather than the most culpable with oil refineries situated nearby in the South West.
Anyone else wondering if they’ve chosen the BBC, rather than say our nearest oil refinery, as ones in Clifton and the other is Avonmouth? IMHO @BBC has done more to raise awareness of climate change than any other institution in the UK, possibly the world. https://t.co/p6gsH9HH00
— Sam Mongon (@SamMongon) December 21, 2018
Another onlooker, Dorothy of Whitchurch, 57, simply ‘couldn’t listen to them’, saying the methods and presentation of the protesters were severely damaging their core message.
Methods were also on the mind of Extinction Rebellion spokesperson Che: “Non-violent doesn’t always mean peaceful,”
“We need to mobilise, climate change is inevitable and it doesn’t discriminate and we are a very symbolic movement, we can use hostile tactics in a symbolic way to get our point across,”
“We can’t take this lying down.”
Other members of the movement, such as Jen of Bishopston, does not advocate these attitudes: “It’s a worry what this kind of issue can spark off, i personally wouldn’t involve myself in any such things and i know plenty of others who wouldn’t as well,”
“We should be mobilising like we’re at war yes, but as a planet, as a country and as a city,”
“Bristol can be a beacon to the world, but its about us as a whole, there is no us and them here.”
The fear of arrest already does little frighten these ‘arrestables’ and ‘righteous rebels’, as epitomised by the ‘unrepentant’ Bristol university professor Colin Davis, detained last week after vandalising the Environment Agency headquarters in Bristol with chalk paint depictions of the Extinction Rebellion’s harrowing, succinct and befitting logo: the hourglass.
The Extinction Rebellion has a full calendar of events going into the new year and beyond as the ‘battle for our planet’ continues.