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Today 9.30am London: Filmmaker Jack Harries among nine Extinction Rebellion protestors in court for criminal damage during oil protest

Charged with criminal damage, 25-year-old filmmaker Jack Harries is among nine protestors from Extinction Rebellion that are due to attend a plea hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court at 9.30 today (Thursday 14 March). [1] The ‘Petroleum 9’ were arrested for gluing themselves to the doors of the Intercontinental Hotel on London’s Park Lane as part of a peaceful nonviolent protest to disrupt International Petroleum Week – a fossil fuel networking event held at the hotel on Wednesday 27 February 2019. Video of the arrest is here.

The news comes as UN research shows that temperature rises of 3C to 5C in the Arctic are now inevitable – even if the world succeeds in cutting greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris agreement. [2] This means even deeper cuts to emissions are necessary to stave off disastrous climate breakdown and societal collapse.

Speaking about his court appearance on BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme on Monday, Harries said “young people have run out of options to make their voices heard”. [3]

Jack Harries and the other activists glued their hands to the doors of the hotel to prevent oil and gas executives entering the conference to protest the role of the fossil fuel industry in causing climate change, and the Government’s failure to respond to the crisis. Security staff at the hotel, unable to remove the protestors, erected screens outside the building in an attempt to shield delegates from the action.

Conscientious protectors

Several defendants are expected to plead not-guilty at the hearing, relying on the Mission LifeForce “conscientious protector” approach, which is based on the right to freedom of conscience as set out in Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights. [4] While Freedom of Conscience is not a defence to a criminal charge, it can encourage the court to consider the reasons for criminal action and to minimise the sentence handed down following any conviction.

“It is a shame that we are in court today, having to decide whether to plead guilty or not guilty for taking part in peaceful protest, whilst the companies we were protesting against are allowed to continue their criminal behaviour,” said 22 year old Sam Knights of Extinction Rebellion who will be also be appearing in court.

“Oil and gas companies are complicit in the murder of climate activists all across the world. They are complicit in the destruction of our planet. They are complicit in the floods, and the storms, and the wildfires. They are responsible for this crisis – just as they are responsible for the system they uphold. A political and economic system that does not care about my future. That only cares about profit.”

International Petroleum Week – which was held at the Intercontinental Hotel on London’s Park Lane – is an exclusive oil and gas networking event, described by multi-national oil corporation Chevron as “one of the key events for the international oil and gas community”. Industry executives pay £2,770 to register, with additional costs for those who want to attend elite dinners or networking events. Agenda topics included “Unlocking the future growth of oil and gas”.

Delegates at International Petroleum Week 2019 included Liam Fox MP, who – according to Desmog UK – “has a long history of being allied to transatlantic groups that fund and spread disinformation on climate change”. Other panellists included representatives from BP, Schlumberger, and Total. Discussions included “managing tension between sustainability demands and operational, business return”; “unlocking” new “opportunities” in Africa; “portfolio optimisation” and “leveraging disruption”, and how the sector will need to “adapt to climate change impacts” that it regards as “unavoidable”.

Following the International Petroleum Week protest, several Extinction Rebellion activists stayed behind to clean their spray chalked messages from the glass doors of the Intercontinental Hotel. Others headed to West End Central and Holborn police stations to support those arrested on their release.

Quotes

Extinction Rebellion is calling on the government to enact legally binding policy measures to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and to reduce consumption levels. Farhana Yamin, a former lead author of the IPCC and an internationally respected climate change lawyer, said: “I fully support this action against the oil and gas industry. These companies are being subsidised by taxpayers whilst simultaneously destroying our planet and burning our future. They should not be allowed to continue on their current path, which will see warming on a scale that threatens our entire existence.”

Ronan McNern of Extinction Rebellion commented:

“This is not just about the petroleum industry. This is about the system which supports them. The entire system is flawed. And, until that changes, we will be back. Year after year. More and more people. More and more arrests. If that is what it takes. This is how it is now.”

Extinction Rebellion protestor Will Skeaping said:

“This is not an action solely against the fossil fuel companies. This is a rebellion against a system that is rotten to its core. The hospitality industry is also at fault. Their decision to facilitate this conference is a disgrace. Their decisions have consequences, and we want them to know: we will not allow you to keep on doing this.”

Notes to editors

[1] http://jacksonharries.com/about / https://metro.co.uk/2019/02/27/youtuber-activist-jack-harries-arrested-non-violent-protest-international-petroleum-week-8766448/ / https://metro.co.uk/2019/03/03/youtuber-and-activist-jack-harries-breaks-silence-on-arrest-i-am-terrified-for-the-state-of-my-future-8795264/

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/mar/13/arctic-temperature-rises-must-be-urgently-tackled-warns-un?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

[3] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-47526985/youtuber-jack-harries-climate-change-protests-were-worth-arrest

[4] https://www.missionlifeforce.org/activist-toolkit/  

About Extinction Rebellion
Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction and abrupt, runaway climate change. Societal collapse and mass death are seen as inevitable by scientists and other credible voices, with human extinction also a possibility, if rapid action is not taken.

Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by its Government.

Extinction Rebellion’s topline demands:

  • The Government must admit the truth about the ecological emergency, reverse all policies inconsistent with addressing climate change, and work alongside the media to communicate with citizens
  • The Government must enact legally binding policy measures to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and to reduce consumption levels
  • A national Citizen’s Assembly must be created, to oversee the changes, as part of creating a democracy fit for purpose.

Declaration of Rebellion: https://rebellion.earth/declaration/

The Extinction Rebellion Climate Factsheet for Rebels

https://rebellion.earth/the-climate-factsheet-for-rebels/

Get involved in Extinction Rebellion’s other events