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Extinction Rebellion protest in Manchester disrupts public transport. Disruptive climate protests interrupt civilian’s daily lives and undermine the environmental movement.

OPINION: Disruptive protests undermine climate crisis

If you have lived in the U.K. for the past few months, it is likely that you have witnessed or heard about environmental groups causing disruptive protests. Recently, disruptive protests have dramatically increased across the country, according to the BBC. Disruptive protestors should be penalized, as they derail civilians’ livelihoods while doing little to effectively raise awareness about the climate crisis. 

More than two-thirds of the British public want the U.K. to lead the world in addressing climate change and protests have garnered attention to their causes, according to YouGov. While climate change is an extremely pressing issue, disruptive protests are troublesome for the public. 

For example, Just Stop Oil had two activists throwing soup on a painting by Van Gogh at the National Gallery, according to The Guardian. The group remarked that the cost of living crisis is unaffordable and families cannot afford to heat soup. 

I wholeheartedly agree that families are struggling through the cost of living crisis and it is crucial for the government to take additional measures, but throwing soup at one of the most famous paintings is appalling and will not progress their cause. Protests must be performed in a procedure that does not disrupt the public’s life. 

Suella Braverman, the home secretary of the U.K., plans to clamp down on disruptive protests with a new bill, according to the BBC. I understand the demands of these environmental groups for the eradication of oil usage and more action on carbon emissions from governments. However, disruptive protests have garnered more resentment toward these environmental groups. 

Disruptive protests have garnered more resentment toward these environmental groups.

According to the BBC, the public order bill is in place to safeguard citizens from “serious disruption or a serious adverse impact on public safety.” The bill also recognizes a criminal offense if there is interference with infrastructure, airports, railroads and oil refineries. 

Additionally, emergency services, such as fire crews, have been unable to commute due to disruptions on roads, according to the BBC.  Disruptive protests are utterly unacceptable when they put people’s lives at risk. 

Notable environmental groups have been causing notable disruption to civilians and transportation networks in London. Over 2,000 Just Stop Oil protesters have been arrested since their campaign started, according to the BBC. On the Abbey Road crossing, Just Stop Oil blocked the road Oct. 23, according to The Mirror, leading to interruptions for local residents.

Furthermore, Extinction Rebellion vandalized a Barclays Bank to raise awareness of Barclay’s involvement with fossil fuels, according to the BBC. This criminal act cost Barclays nearly £100,000 in repairs and could have posed a harmful threat to civilians as the glass was shattered. 

The U.K. and numerous other countries have pledged to reach net zero by 2050, according to the United Nations. However, the Lords Committee has warned that the U.K. will not achieve net zero by 2050 unless urgent action is taken, according to the U.K. Parliament

More needs to be done regarding climate change. The Russia-Ukraine war has shown how much the U.K. depends on oil, as gas prices have increased 141% since the winter of 2021 and 2022, according to the U.K. Parliament. 

If the U.K. had relied more on renewable energy, carbon emissions would be lower and energy prices would be greatly reduced. Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion are right to call for an increase in renewable energy produced by the U.K. and an abolishment of the use of oil. 

However, it is not realistic to expect the government to meet these expectations immediately. It is impossible for energy to transition its resources in only the next few years. Fortunately, the British government operates on the basis of realism and not the environmental group’s fairytale scenarios. 

Therefore, the prime minister is committed to achieving net zero by 2050 and making the U.K. the world’s first net-zero financial center, according to His Majesty’s Treasury

Taking into account the climate crisis and civilians’ livelihoods, disruptive protests should be illegal.

Taking into account the climate crisis and civilians’ livelihoods, disruptive protests should be illegal. Rather, climate protests should still occur, simply not disruptively. Peaceful protests and marches in areas not affecting the general public should be allowed. It is imperative that these environmental groups relay their message effectively to relevant authoritative figures to enact change and garner attention. 

Governments should take notice of these protests and take action to achieve net zero by 2050 for economic, social and environmental reasons. As an alternative to disruptive protests, online blogs and social media awareness can be used to gather recognition for a particular environmental cause.

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