CLIMATE campaigners staged “protest of one” road blocks across the region on Saturday to demonstrate against the Government’s lack of action on climate change.

The demonstration, organised by pressure group Extinction Rebellion (XR), sees individuals sitting alone in busy roads wearing signs with messages about their fears for the future.

Four members of XR blocked roads in Newcastle, Gateshead, Durham and Jesmond, along with over 200 more in other towns and cities across the country, with individual protestors risking their safety by sitting alone in the road and stopping traffic.

All four protestors were arrested.

The Northern Echo:

The Rebellion of One protestors apologised for inconveniencing people, but insisted that civil disobedience is the only way to get the Government to act, having exhausted other options such as petitions, letter-writing and meeting with MPs.

Sonny Shepherd, a retired primary school teacher and grandmother of five of Durham, said: “Scientists tell us we have less than a decade to act, and yet greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.

"I ask our leaders to listen to the science and strive relentlessly to make the changes that we need. The government has made so many promises but has failed to back those up with policies that will actually make a difference.

The Northern Echo:

"I ask our leaders to give us a road map so every business, bank and individual can play their part in stopping the climate crisis. Until that happens, we all need to protest, because if we don’t there’ll be no tomorrow for our children and grandchildren.”

Helen from Gateshead, who was arrested for blocking a road in Newcastle, said: “I’m terrified for my granddaughters, because we’re getting closer and closer to the point where nothing can be done to stop climate catastrophe.

"Crops will fail; vast areas of the earth will become uninhabitable; sea levels will rise. And then wars will break out and society as we know it will collapse. This is not a distant dystopian fiction. This is already becoming a reality for many across the world, and it’ll be a reality for my granddaughters unless our governments act now”.

Kate, who was arrested in Jesmond, said “Our kids are losing their future because of our Government’s failure to act on the climate crisis.

"Parliament declared a climate and ecological emergency two years ago today, and yet the Committee on Climate Change and the National Audit Office, whose job is to monitor the Government’s progress, have warned that its climate plans are failing to materialise."

The Northern Echo:

Steve, who blocked traffic and was arrested in Newcastle City Centre, said “The Government is telling us it has the climate crisis in hand and is committed to ‘building back greener’ from the pandemic. And yet, in the last 6 months it has invested £27bn in new roads and is committed to airport expansion.

"By June last year 56 per cent of Covid funding distributed by the Bank of England went to carbon intensive industries, including airlines, car manufacturers and oil and gas companies. We have to stop this reckless government destroying our future.

The protest began at 11am on May 1 – two years exactly since Parliament declared a climate emergency.

XR said in a statement that despite its carbon-cutting targets – with Boris Johnson recently announcing plans to cut emissions by 78 per cent by 2035 – the UK Government is moving too slowly.

Saturday’s protests coincided with a number of demonstrations against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. A

The Bill was drafted partly in response to previous disruptive action by XR and also the Black Lives Matter movement.

The proposed legislation would give police in England and Wales more powers to impose conditions on non-violent protests – including those deemed too noisy or a nuisance, with those convicted liable to fines or jail terms.

A Home Office spokesman said: “The right to protest is a cornerstone of our democracy, but over recent years we have seen an increase in the use of disruptive and dangerous tactics.”

He added: “These new measures will not stop people from carrying out their civic right to protest and be heard, but will prevent large scale disruption – enabling the silent majority to get on with their lives.”