Fossil Free London activists, joined by Greta Thunberg, staged a noisy protest outside Guildhall in the City of London to disrupt Rishi Sunak’s speech inside the Lord Mayor’s banquet on Monday 13 November. It was over the PM’s climate-wrecking plans contained in the King’s Speech.
Thunberg joins other activists to target the Lord Mayor’s banquet
The new Lord Mayor, the ceremonial head of the City of London who acts as an international spokesperson for London’s finance sector, was sworn in in a silent ceremony earlier this week that was also disrupted by Fossil Free London protesters.
The prime minister was invited to deliver the keynote address at the banquet, where bankers and business leaders celebrate the incumbent Lord Mayor.
Activists gathered around each entrance of the Guildhall as they chanted ‘stop Rosebank’, banging pots and pans and playing the drums to drown out the speech being given by the prime minister:
Sunak’s appearance comes after the UK Government promised earlier this week to allow new yearly rounds of licensing to drill for oil and gas in the North Sea, as laid out in the King’s Speech.
Thunberg came out to support Fossil Free London:
There was a small police presence during Thunberg and Fossil Free London’s action:
Sunak: ‘maxing out’ the climate crisis
The prime minister has been eager to make clear his determination to “max out” the fossil fuel reserves of the North Sea over the past few months. However, as the Guardian‘s environment editor Fiona Harvey wrote:
this is clearly contrary to expert advice. The International Energy Agency, at the request of the UK before the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow, warned in 2021 that no such expansion could take place anywhere, to stay within 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
The UK government claims this move is to ensure energy security and lower bills for UK households, despite Uplift research arguing it will do neither. The oil or gas produced will be sold to an international market, meaning the production won’t affect UK prices or ensure our supply of it.
London’s finance sector, heavily represented at the banquet, funded nearly double the emissions produced by the whole of the UK in 2019. As a report by WWF noted:
just a subsection of the UK Finance sector was responsible for financing 805 million tonnes of CO2 in 2019 of emissions through their lending and investment activities. This equates to 1.8 times the annual net emissions of the UK putting at risk the government’s plans to lead by example at COP26.
To put this in stark terms, if the UK banks and investors in this study were a country, they would be ranked 9th biggest emitter of CO2 in the world – ahead of Germany, indicating the scale of the issue.
‘Selling us a dangerous pipedream’
Joanna Warrington, spokesperson for Fossil Free London, said:
Sunak and his climate-wrecking Government are selling the UK public a dangerous pipedream. They are falsely promising energy security through the expansion of new oil and gas, that if pursued would only spell utter climate disaster, and an insecure, warming world for all of us that live within it.
Whilst Sunak dines with the Lord Mayor, bankers and business leaders at the heart of obscene wealth in this country; we are outside with a clear message. We want a livable future; and secure, affordable, renewable energy for all.
Fossil Free London is a grassroots climate group campaigning for a London beyond fossil fuels, imagining a cleaner, greener city for residents and for people worldwide who are experiencing the loss and damage of climate crises made in London. Instagram: @fossilfreelondon Twitter: @fossilfreeldn.
Feature image and additional images via Fossil Free London
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