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Thousands Protest Climate and Cost of Living Crises in the UK

Thousands of people across the UK took to the streets Saturday and Sunday to protest the climate and cost-of-living crises, which demonstrators linked to the country’s dependence on fossil fuels

Saturday’s protests were joined by thousands of people in major cities from London to Glasgow to Belfast, as the Press Association reported. On Sunday, 250 demonstrators from the group Just Stop Oil marched through London and blocked its Waterloo Bridge for the second day in a row, the group said.  

“I’m doing this for my son,” one demonstrator said as she was arrested Sunday. “The government’s inaction on climate change is a death sentence to us all. The United Nations has said we should have no new oil. Liz Truss wants to open 130 new oil licenses. That’s a death sentence to this planet.” 

New Conservative UK Prime Minister Liz Truss has responded to the energy crisis in part by pushing to expand oil-and-gas exploration in the North Sea and lifting a national moratorium on fracking, The Guardian reported. In response, climate justice and cost-of-living advocates vowed to protest the new policies. 

“Truss is doubling down on the broken system that causes bills, billionaires and CO2 to soar while pay falls. People simply won’t put up with it. Enough is enough,” Zarah Sultana, who is a member of an advocacy group with that name as well as a member of parliament with the opposition Labour Party, said in September. “From trade unionists fighting for decent pay, to climate campaigners, this autumn will see a wave of action to force change.”

Saturday’s protests were organized independently by a number of groups including We All Want to Just Stop Oil coalition, Enough Is Enough and Don’t Pay, according to Just Stop Oil and further reporting from The Guardian. The demonstrations were timed to coincide with an October 1 increase in energy bills as well as strike action from more than 200,000 members of postal and railway unions. The UK’s energy regulator had said in August that it would raise the price cap for household energy bills by 80 percent in October due to an increase in energy prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Since then, the government stepped in with a two-year Energy Price Guarantee that would see the average household energy bill rise to £2,500 a year, Forbes explained. While this is lower than the £3,550 average that would have been the result of the 80 percent price cap increase, it is still higher than the previous average of £1,971 per year. 

“I think we are at a real turning point now where the inequalities in our society are so obvious,” 26-year-old Esme Garlake, who attended the Saturday protests in London, said, as The Guardian reported. “Today is the day of the energy bills [price rise] coming out and so different groups and grassroots movements are starting to realise that we have to come together to demand social change and climate action.”

The group’s behind Saturday’s protests made different but related demands. Enough Is Enough wants pay raises in keeping with inflation, lower energy bills, an end to food poverty, housing for all and increased taxes on the rich, according to its website. The We All Want to Just Stop Oil coalition is calling for no new oil and gas infrastructure, taxes on major polluters and the wealthy, help with energy bills, better home insulation and better public transportation. 

Following Sunday’s protests, Just Stop Oil also launched an occupation in Westminster in London on Monday. 

“We will continue in civil resistance until this government takes immediate steps to meet our demand to end the cost of living and climate crisis by stopping new oil and gas,” a Just Stop Oil spokesperson said in a statement Sunday. “We need to start a rapid transformation to a fairer society, decided by ordinary people and paid for by those who are profiting from humanity’s destruction.”

The post Thousands Protest Climate and Cost of Living Crises in the UK appeared first on EcoWatch.

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