Peterborough Extinction Rebellion activist who stopped traffic explains why she will ‘no longer be a bystander’

An Extinction Rebellion activist in Peterborough who blocked traffic on Saturday (May 1) explains why she will ‘no longer be a bystander’ to the world’s climate situation.

Monday, 3rd May 2021, 2:52 pm
Lorna (72) during her protest on Cowgate on Saturday (May 1).
Lorna (72) during her protest on Cowgate on Saturday (May 1).

On Saturday, Lorna (72) who is a retired teacher and grandmother from Peterborough engaged in an action which is known as swarming.

This means blocking the road for a set period of time in an act of civil disobedience, this was done to protest about the world’s climate crisis but more importantly, the inaction of the UK government.

On May 1 2019, the UK government declared an environment and climate emergency but Extinction Rebellion have been left frustrated by the lack of action to tackle this issue and have accused the government of lying to the public about its tepid plans to tackle climate change.

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Roads across the country in places such as Aberdeen, Brimingham and Cambridge, where significant disruption was caused, were blocked by protesters.

This included Lorna in Cowgate, who sat on her own in the road from 11:00am until around 11:45am.

Explaining the reason for this, she said: “I can no longer be a bystander, I sit here and weep for my family and my descendants.

“I carry guilt that my life has not been spent resisting the degradation of my planet which

began way before my birth.

“I sit here to highlight that all things are connected. My beef burgers have contributed to polar bears starving as their environment disappears. My oranges have contributed to the desertification of North Africa.

“My smart phones have contributed to the destruction of land and peoples. My almonds have swallowed precious water resources in North America. My cars have pumped immense pollution into the atmosphere.

“My governments have failed to protect us, continuing to give contracts to extract oil in the North Sea and subsidising the fishing industry, which is extracting marine life in a manner which threatens all life in the oceans.

“My insatiable consumerism will end up consuming the earth.”

During the protest Lorna said that she encountered some angry drivers and pedestrians but that she also received support and applause from onlookers in Turtle Bay. One woman reportedly called out ‘I’m with you,’ while others reminded those angry that Lorna was protesting peacefully.

Police were called and the incident was dealt with peacefully.

She added: “All over the globe others are struggling because of the effects of climate

change. Lobbying our Government and our letters to media have produced little change, our

voices have not been heard. It seems that only halting our ‘normal’ business will attract

attention, my faith in our Government to work for our good appears misguided.

“I feel I have been forced from my lifetime of obedience to take action, to sound the alarm that urgent change is needed”.

Extinction Rebellion has revealed that this weekend’s protests form part of their Waves of Rebellions for 2021, with new ones each month, increasing in pressure each month in the build-up to the UN’s COP26 Climate Change conference in Glasgow in November.

In a statement, Extinction Rebellion added: “Two years ago today the UK Parliament declared an environment and climate emergency. And yet in February this year chief executive of the Environment Agency Sir James Bevan said that the UK is hitting worst case environmental scenarios that if left unchecked would collapse ecosystems, slash crop yields,

take out the infrastructure that our civilisation depends on, and destroy the basis of the

modern economy and modern society.

“The Committee on Climate Change and the National Audit Office who are tasked with monitoring the Government are warning the public that their climate plans are failing to materialise.

“Our leaders are still not taking this seriously. It’s time for ordinary people to step up and demand action.

“The Prime Minister claims the government is committed to ‘building back greener’ from the pandemic. However, in the past 6 months, £27bn has been invested in new roads and the Heathrow expansion ruling was overturned.

“A report by Positive Money found that by June last year 56% of Covid funding distributed by the Bank of England went to carbon intensive industries, including airlines, car manufacturers and oil and gas companies.

“The Committee on Climate Change said in its progress report last June that the UK has failed on 17 out of 21 progress indicators, falling further behind in many areas and that just two of 31 key policy milestones have been met over the year since Parliament declared emergency.

“In December last year, the National Audit Office found that the UK Government is predicted to fail to meet its existing climate targets and said that a radical reassessment of priorities was needed.

“The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Independent Commission on Climate Change report published in March this year has warned that there is an urgent need for action to tackle climate change and its impact on Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

“The area is reported to be at significant risk of flooding, heat waves and water shortages due to climate impacts.

“The people taking action today hope to make clear that they can no longer trust the UK Government with their future.”