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Radical action and non-violent protest: A week of climate demonstrations in pictures

A protestor holds a placard reading 'Less faeces, more species' at the Restore Nature Now rally in London, June 2024.
A protestor holds a placard reading 'Less faeces, more species' at the Restore Nature Now rally in London, June 2024. Copyright Matt Bristow Photography
Copyright Matt Bristow Photography
By Harriet Reuter Hapgood
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From Just Stop Oil splattering Stonehenge with orange powder to a 30,000-strong human chain in the Netherlands.

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Already 2024 is a record-shattering year for the climate as May set a new global temperature record for the 12th month in a row. 

“The next 18 months are critical in the fight to limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5C,” according to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. There are less than six months until UN climate conference COP29

But the European Parliamentary elections earlier this month saw a lurch to the far right and a rejection of green-leaning parties and policies, leaving climate-concerned citizens without an official voice. 

In response, climate groups have embraced their democratic right to demonstrate, with June seeing a wave of non-violent protests.  

Just Stop Oil targets Stonehenge and Taylor Swift

The day before summer solstice celebrations began at Stonehenge in the south-west of England, activists from Just Stop Oil sprayed orange powder paint on the 5,000-year-old landmark. The group is demanding the UK government commit to a legally binding treaty to phase out fossil fuels by 2030.

Just Stop Oil activists cover the historic Stonehenge site in southwest England with orange-coloured cornflour.
Just Stop Oil activists cover the historic Stonehenge site in southwest England with orange-coloured cornflour.Just Stop Oil/AP

The protest was decried by Conservative and Labour party leaders and declared “saddening” vandalism by site guardian English Heritage. Just Stop Oil activist Rajan Naidu says, “The orange cornflour we used to create an eye-catching spectacle will soon wash away with the rain.

“But the urgent need for effective government action to mitigate the catastrophic consequences of the climate and ecological crisis will not,” he adds.

Just Stop Oil activists used fire extinguishers filled with orange paint to deface private jets on an airfield near London, England.
Just Stop Oil activists used fire extinguishers filled with orange paint to deface private jets on an airfield near London, England.AP/Just Stop Oil

Just a day later, the activist group turned its attention to a private airfield just outside London, England, most recently used by Taylor Swift on her worldwide Eras tour. Carbon emissions from this have been calculated at 125 tonnes of CO2 for the American leg alone. 

Two protesters from the group broke into the airfield and used fire extinguishers filled with orange paint to cover two private jets. And the group plans for a summer of similar action:

“Just Stop Oil supporters, along with citizens from Austria, Canada, Norway, the Netherlands and Switzerland will join in resistance this summer, if their own governments do not take meaningful action,” a spokesperson says.  

Emma Thompson, Chris Packham, Dale Vince and Caroline Lucas take part in the Restore Nature Now march in London, UK.
Emma Thompson, Chris Packham, Dale Vince and Caroline Lucas take part in the Restore Nature Now march in London, UK.Matt Bristow Photography

Actress Emma Thompson calls for radical action

British environmental activism continued over the weekend, with 350 environmental groups and thousands of protestors joining the Restore Nature Now march in London.

Naturist Chris Packham, actress Emma Thompson, former Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and ornithologist and environmentalist Dr Mya-Rose Craig (aka Birdgirl) were among those attending the march, which culminated in a rally at Parliament Square.

“Without radical action, our natural world will continue to decline and that is a crisis that will affect us all,” says Thompson. “This is a major moment for nature and a major moment for politics. The big question is, will the next administration heed the demands of people in the UK and Restore Nature Now?”

The UK is failing to meet its own nature goals, with wildlife severely depleted and one in six species at risk of extinction.

“We all love life here and we want to protect that life and make sure that we've got healthy lives, not just for us and our children but everything that creeps, crawls, slithers, slimes and stings on this planet,” says Packham.

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Dutch organisation The Climate Chain brought together 30,000 protestors along the coastline in a peaceful climate protest.

Dutch chain reactions and Climate Stripes take over landmarks

In the Netherlands, around 30,000 people formed a human chain along the country’s coastlines on Sunday afternoon, in a peaceful protest organised by Urgenda Foundation’s campaign The Climate Chain.

Campaign leader Tsjeard Hofstra said the chain was, “for people who want to raise awareness about climate change but don’t want to hold a sign in Amsterdam or block a motorway. This is a statement from people who want to move forward and are not always against something.”

A graphic representation of global average temperatures over the past 174 years is projected onto Lord’s Cricket Ground, London.
A graphic representation of global average temperatures over the past 174 years is projected onto Lord’s Cricket Ground, London.Climate Stripes

Climate Stripes, a graphic representation of global warming created by England’s Reading University, this year needed to add a new shade of red to reflect 2023’s record-breaking temperature averages.

Last week the stripes were projected onto global landmarks, including the Red Bull Arena Leipzig in Germany ahead of a Euro 2024 match, and the BT Tower and Lord’s Cricket Ground in London.

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Extinction Rebellion protestors run onto the 18th green at the PGA Travelers Championship in Connecticut, USA.
Extinction Rebellion protestors run onto the 18th green at the PGA Travelers Championship in Connecticut, USA.Seth Wenig/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.

Climate groups target golf tournaments to castles

Other sporting demonstrations include Extinction Rebellion disrupting the golfing tournament Travelers Championship in the US, with protesters running onto the green to spray smoke and powder. Six people were arrested.

Fossil Free London unfurls a banner at Grade I-listed monument Bodiam Castle in Sussex, England, in protest at owner the National Trust’s links to Barclays.
Fossil Free London unfurls a banner at Grade I-listed monument Bodiam Castle in Sussex, England, in protest at owner the National Trust’s links to Barclays.Fossil Free London

Taking a leaf out of the Just Stop Oil playbook, Fossil Free London targeted the national monument of Bodiam Castle in Sussex, England. Instead of orange cornflour, the group opted for a less dramatic and less potentially damaging banner.

The banner read ‘National Trust: Protect Nature, Drop Barclays’ with the group citing the National Trust’s links to Barclays, which it says is one of Europe’s biggest supporters of fossil fuels

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