The protests come in light of the COP26 conference in GlasgowLouis Hodgson

Extinction Rebellion Cambridge are continuing to demand action on climate change through their involvement with several demonstrations over recent days and weeks.

The protests come in light of the COP26 conference in Glasgow, which started on October 31st and will run until November 12th. The UN conference brings together leaders from around the world to discuss issues relating to climate change.

COP26 Global Day of Action for Climate Justice

Climate activists from throughout the community gathered in Cambridge city centre on Saturday (06/11) as part of the COP26 Coalition for the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice.

Crowds of participants met outside Great St Mary’s Church on King’s Parade before marching to Parker’s Piece ahead of the Climate Fair that afternoon.

Members of Extinction Rebellion Cambridge took part by staging a ‘Silent Rebellion’, in which they meditated on the lawns outside King’s College Chapel.

Elsewhere activists could be seen walking while holding a 1km-long ‘umbilical cord’ made from reused cloth and textiles by local artists. Organisers said the purpose of the community art piece was to “highlight that we are all connected to each other, and to nature and the Earth.”

Cambridge Students’ Union Undergraduate President Zak Coleman attended the rally in support.

Speaking at the Climate Fair over at Parker’s Piece, third-year student Daisy Thomas said: “[W]hile the university tries to divide us, we must stand together and fight hand in hand for a just future for this city, this community, and this planet”.

Blockade of oilfield research centre

Earlier in the week, members of Extinction Rebellion Cambridge staged a blockade of the Schlumberger Gould Research Centre near Madingley Road in west Cambridge.

The climate activists took the action on Thursday 4th November to protest against the company’s research into fossil fuel extraction methods.

Protesters stood on stilts and camped out in tents to block the roads around the centre, while some locked themselves to a pink boat draped with a banner saying ‘no more fossil fuels’.

In a statement, the demonstrators accused the University of Cambridge of “cosying up to companies like Schlumberger” and urged them “to sever ties with the fossil fuel industry and instead use its influence to help create a sustainable and socially just future.”

They also said the University “must condemn the destruction of ecosystems and communities carried out by the fossil fuel industry, and take action by removing Schlumberger from the West Cambridge Site.”

The demonstration at the Schlumberger building follows a similar protest in January 2020, during which participants chained themselves to the building’s main entrances.


Mountain View

In pictures: Extinction Rebellion ‘Funeral March’ processes through Cambridge city centre

XR Youth Cambridge Natwest protest and city centre ‘funeral march’

On Saturday 30th October, members of Extinction Rebellion Youth Cambridge (XR Youth) attempted a sit-in at the Cambridge city centre branch of Natwest, only to find that it had shut half an hour earlier than usual ahead of the protest.

The activists had hoped to protest against what they perceive as “greenwashing” on the part of the bank, ahead of the start of the COP26 conference the following day (31/10), of which Natwest is a sponsor.

Instead of the planned sit-in, activists from the group, whose members’ ages range from 18-30, sat in “learning circles” outside the branch on Fitzroy Street, discussing and reading about climate politics as well as other social issues.

Later that day, Extinction Rebellion Cambridge held a second protest which saw members marching from Parker’s Piece through the town centre in eye-catching costumes.

The march was led by the ‘Red Rebels’ who were wearing long scarlet robes with red paint on their faces. Behind them walked demonstrators dressed in funeral wear and pushing empty prams. Their banner said that the government’s “climate betrayal [is] killing our children”.

Protesters expressed their pessimism towards COP26, handing out flyers which claimed that the conference is doomed to result in “catastrophic failure, which the government will cover up by spinning stories of optimism”.

UK-wide protests

Extinction Rebellion Cambridge’s protests have occurred against a backdrop of demonstrations across the UK held to coincide with COP26.

Elsewhere in East Anglia, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the city hall in Norwich for the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice, while large demonstrations in Glasgow and London emphasised growing demands for action.