‘Have you reflected on this? Where does this take you? Do you recognise there is a real need to lean into the discomfort but also care for yourself?'
Quakers helped highlight the role of the UK’s financial sector in the climate crisis as part of the latest witness by Extinction Rebellion (XR).
The two weeks of protest have so far targeted businesses headquartered in the Square Mile financial district, spotlighting the billions poured by financiers into fossil fuels and high-carbon activities.
Events started with a rally in Trafalgar Square on 23 August, the anniversary of the Haitian slave rebellion of 1791 and the international day for the remembrance of the slave trade and its abolition.
Protestors also targeted the Guildhall building where a crowd of about 200 people sang and cheered as the protesters sprayed red paint over the walls and unfurled a banner reading ‘co-liberation freedom together’.
Meanwhile, other demonstrators ‘locked-on’ to a van outside Westminster Meeting House (see photo).
Quaker nonagenarian John Lynes, from Hastings Meeting, took part in some of the witnesses.
He told The Guardian: ‘This is a critical moment for our government to do something. But they have cut down overseas aid while increasing armed forces spending, and dithered over a coal mine in Cumbria and new oilfields. It is really a disgrace. This is why now is the moment [for protest].’
One XR member told The Guardian that at least 2,000 people had recently signed up to the group, and estimated that nearly half of the protesters likely to take part were new to the movement.
Huddersfield Quaker and XR co-founder Ian Bray told the Friend that there was a new wave of people joining the movement. He said his role now appeared to be to support other people on their journey into conscientious action and to encourage a contemplative approach: ‘Have you reflected on this? Where does this take you? Do you recognise there is a real need to lean into the discomfort but also care for yourself? Is this love in action?’
Businesses listed on the London Stock Exchange or financed from the UK account for about fifteen per cent of global carbon emissions, according to XR. They said that if London’s financial markets were a country, they would be the world’s ninth largest emitter.
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