LONDON (Reuters) - Environmental activists glued themselves to the London Stock Exchange, blocked roads near the Bank of England and protested outside banks such as Goldman Sachs on Thursday to try to force Britain to help avert what they cast as a climate cataclysm.
The Extinction Rebellion group has caused mass disruption across London, blocking Marble Arch, Oxford Circus and Waterloo Bridge, smashing a door at the Shell building and shocking lawmakers with a semi-nude protest in parliament.
On Thursday, they turned their attention to London’s financial district, known as the City - home to more international banks than any other and the global centre for foreign exchange trading.
In streets beside the Bank of England, around 20 activists blocked the road singing Bob Marley’s “One Love”.
Outside Goldman Sachs European headquarters, protesters blocked Fleet Street, lying on the ground. One held a placard saying “No jobs on a dead planet” and others chanted: “What do we want? Climate justice. When do we want it? Now.”
At the London Stock Exchange’s headquarters, seven protesters dressed in black suits and red ties were blocking the revolving doors of the building. They held signs reading “Tell the truth” and “You can’t eat money”.
In Canary Wharf, five protesters from the group climbed aboard a train at the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) station and unfurled a banner which read: “Business as usual = Death”. One glued herself to a train.
“Its bizarre we have to do this in order for governments to listen to the scientists,” said Diana Warner, 60, who glued her hand to the train.
“I’ve got children who are grown up so I can do this, so I’m doing it for everyone who can’t.”
The activists plan protests outside other banks including Rothschild, Nomura, Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Canada and Rabobank, according to a protest planning document seen by Reuters.
In the past 11 days, the group has brought iconic parts of central London to a standstill in what activists have described as the biggest act of civil disobedience in modern British history.
Sources at major banks said security staff had been fully briefed on their status as possible targets but had no plans to enhance security to deal with the disruption.
Extinction Rebellion advocates non-violent civil disobedience to force governments to reduce carbon emissions and avert what it says is a global climate crisis that will bring starvation, floods, wildfires and social collapse.
Police said 1,088 arrests had been made since the main protests began. The final day of protests is focusing on the international financial sector, which has made London its home.
“So we’re here today to highlight that there are people and businesses trading in ecological destruction in that building behind us,” Adam Woodhall, a 48-year-old spokesman for the group, said outside the London Stock Exchange.
“We want the people in this building and around the world that in the financial industry to understand the impact that they are having on our futures. They are trading and making money in our futures.”
The group is demanding the government declare a climate and ecological emergency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025 and create a citizen’s assembly of members of the public to lead on decisions to address climate change.
In 2017, total United Kingdom greenhouse gas emissions were 43 percent lower than in 1990 and 2.6 percent lower than 2016, according to government statistics.
The group said they would end their protests in London on Thursday and would end their blockades at Parliament Square and Marble Arch.
However, they promised more protests in the future, saying direct action was the only way to bring the issue to public attention.
Reporting by Helena Williams, Emily Roe, Simon Dawson, Peter Nicholls, Sinead Cruise, Lawrence White; Writing by Andrew MacAskill; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Alison Williams