LONDON: On Tuesday, Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg was arrested by the London MET (The Metropolitan Police Services) outside a hotel in Mayfair, London for failing to comply with Section 14 of the Public Order Act, UK.

Detained alongside 26 other climate warriors, Thunberg was seen protesting the new oil and gas projects sanctioned recently by the British Government and the accused the fossil fuel industry of deliberately delaying the energy transition to renewables to churn out more profit. The demonstration saw protesters chanting “oily money out” and blocking the access to enter the hotel premises.

Organised by the UK-based climate activist group, Fossil Free London, the protest took place outside a hotel in Mayfair which hosted a three-day conference, Energy Intelligence Forum, for gas and oil industry chief executives and speakers, and was attended by the UK Energy Security minister, Claire Coutinho, to discuss energy policies, energy transitions and security at global level.

The protesters were arrested on the charges of obstructing a highway during the protest where Thunberg told reporters, “The world is drowning in fossil fuels. Our hopes and dreams and lives are being washed away by a flood of greenwashing and lies. It has been clear for decades that the fossil fuel industries were well-aware of the consequences of their business models, and yet, they have done nothing.”

“The opposite – they have actively delayed, distracted and denied the causes of the climate crisis and spread doubts about their own engagement in it.”

While public campaigning has long been part of bringing policy change, the British government has been taking stricter measures against protesters despite their right to campaign in civic spaces. The new Public Order Act 2023 allows the law enforcement officers “to respond quickly and effectively to activists who deliberately disrupt people’s lives through dangerous, reckless, and criminal acts.”

Photo Credit: Reuters

Under the new Public Order Bill 2023, the government has introduced a statutory offence of public nuisance and have created powers for the police to place conditions on unjustifiably noisy protests and increased the sentences for obstructing the highway.

Released in an overnight bail, Thunberg and the other co-campaigners are expected to be present at the Westminster Magistrate Court on 15 November to defend the charges of breaching Section 14 of the Public Order Act.

As per a 2020 YouGov Survey, 46% of 18–24-year-olds in the UK are “very concerned about climate change” as compared to 24% of those aged over 65. This has been reflected by several climate-related protests carried out recently, the latest being Just Stop Oil protests across Universities in the UK.

Thunberg was also fined a sum of 2,250 Kroners ($206) by a Swedish Court last week for disobeying the Swedish laws during a protest in Stockholm in July this year.  Her detainment has sparked debate about freedom of speech and the democratic right to peacefully protest in civic spaces.

Known for sparking the global youth-led climate movement, “Fridays for Future”, Greata Thunberg gained fame for her school strikes demanding stronger action on climate change. Greta’s speeches and advocacy have driven international awareness and action on climate-related issues.



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