Extinction Rebellion (XR) demonstrators today held a rally at the Cenotaph against climate change, hours before Remembrance Day ceremonies were scheduled to take place. “In front of the memorial in Whitehall, a banner reading” Honour Their Sacrifice, Climate Change Means War “was displayed along with a wreath of poppies with the message” Act Now. Before hanging the wreath of poppies on the Cenotaph at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, British Army veteran and XR member Donald Bell observed two minutes’ silence.
Police officers were later seen removing the Cenotaph wreath.
Private Bell, who during the Troubles completed four tours in Northern Ireland, said “unchecked climate change means a return to a world at war.”
“Today I took action thinking I’d be criticized,” he said. For veterans, Remembrance Day is never an easy time and this has not been an easy choice for me to make.
The Climate Change Committee, the government’s own climate advisers, said last year that they have a ‘Dad’s Army’ approach to shielding British citizens from the consequences of climate change.
“Their study found in June this year that the government has failed to reach all but two of the 31 pollution reduction milestones it has set itself. This government is criminally incompetent and today young people will pay the price for their failure.”
Private Bell agreed that XR will likely face “disrespectful” allegations.
One social media user claimed that the banner had “defaced” the Cenotaph.
On Twitter, another person wrote: “I hope someone rips it down. How rude!” Some users of social media disagreed by arguing that the demonstration was making a “valid argument” about stopping war.
“Apparently, at this XR protest at the Cenotaph, there is ‘fury,’ but to me it looks carefully thought out and profoundly respectful, thus making a perfectly reasonable point about preventing war and the sort of slaughter that took place in WW1, “said one user of Twitter.