Arrests after climate change protest shuts Edinburgh's North Bridge

17 April 2019, 07:38

Extinction rebellion scotland edinburgh

Police said 29 people were arrested after climate change protesters occupied Edinburgh's North Bridge, bringing traffic to a standstill.

Hundreds of activists from the Extinction Rebellion Scotland group blocked the route, calling on the Scottish Government to declare a climate emergency as part of nationwide demonstrations.

They were joined by dozens of cyclists who converged on the city centre, causing travel disruption and long tailbacks after the bridge was closed.

Around 300 people gathered from 3pm, police said, with 17 men and 12 women arrested for breach of the peace. They will appear in court in the coming days.

Protesters demanded the Scottish Government "tell the truth about the climate and ecological crisis" before the demonstration came to an end at around 8.30pm.

Tom Younger, who was part of a human barricade at the Princes Street end of the bridge, said the occupation was part of a wider movement that included school strikes over recent months.

The 28-year old said: "We need to step up and make our voices heard.

"We're demanding the Government goes zero carbon by 2025. It needs to tell citizens the truth about what's happening and we need a citizens' assembly to get us there because our political system isn't capable of delivering the changes that we need.

"We need those changes delivered in a democratic way if they are going to be for the benefit of everyone and not just the rich and powerful."

Mr Younger, an anthropologist working with indigenous Peruvians, warned: "People in countries like Peru are already starting to feel the impact of climate change, and we're going to be feeling them very soon here in Scotland."

Bobbie Winter-Burke, 31, said: "I would rather not have to do this - block the roads, mess up people's day - but it's really critical that more people are aware of what's happening with the climate crisis.

"Governments aren't telling the truth, the media isn't telling the truth, so we need to have people out in capital cities to raise awareness, to empower people to take non-violent direct action to show that it's an important cause."

The library worker added: "It can't be ignored any longer and so that's why I'm here today."

Police Scotland Superintendent Bob Paris said: "The police have both a duty to prevent crime and disorder and (to) balance the qualified rights of protesters with the rights of the wider public under the European Convention on Human Rights."

The demonstration was part of an international week of protests calling for governments and councils around the world to declare a climate emergency.

It follows climate change activists scaling a crane to hang banners at Glasgow City Chambers on Monday.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Climate change is an extremely serious global issue.

"Scotland has been praised internationally for our world-leading efforts in this area. We are demonstrating this global leadership by setting the most ambitious statutory climate change targets of any country in the world for 2020, 2030 and 2040, which will mean Scotland is carbon neutral by 2050.

"We want to go further and achieve net-zero emissions for all greenhouse gases as soon as possible.

"We are currently awaiting advice from the UK Committee on Climate Change, which is due on May 2. If the committee advise that we can now set even more ambitious targets, we will act on that."