Rooftop protest continues as MPs return

More than 20 environmental campaigners remained on the roof of the Palace of Westminster today in a protest over climate change, while another 20 were being held by police.



The Greenpeace activists hope to greet politicians as they arrive for the start of Parliament with a 12-point manifesto calling for zero carbon emissions by 2030, a stop to airport expansion, more wind power and new pollution taxes.

The group is looking to upcoming climate talks in Copenhagen as the ideal opportunity to address the climate problem.

The demonstrators climbed on to the roof, ramparts and a turret on top of Westminster Hall yesterday, unfurling yellow banners which read: "Change the politics, save the climate."

They said there was little resistance from police when they moved quickly to prop ladders against the wall and climb on to the roof.

After four and three quarter hours on the roof, 20 protesters climbed down one by one using a ladder and safety harness and were arrested for trespassing on a "protected site".

A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said all 20 remained in custody.

Perched high on the roof of Westminster Hall, full-time Greenpeace activist Anna Jones, 28, from Headingley in Leeds, said this morning: "We can't stress enough how important this is. The clock is ticking - scientists are telling us we have just a few years left to act to save the planet.

"Now is the time to start putting policies in place to make sure we are on the right trajectory to peak our emissions and bring them down. But instead we have a government that is prepared to lock us into high carbon projects like the third runway at Heathrow."

She said direct action was necessary and effective.

"Climate change is the biggest challenge we are facing. It takes action like this to make the politicians wake up.

"They are letting us down and letting down citizens around the world."

Ms Jones added that there had been very little police presence as activists quickly scaled the building.

She said the protesters had managed to get some sleep on the roof overnight and had even spotted shooting stars.

"We're planning to stay here for the day. It's quite cold up here but we have had hot meals and are cosy huddled up under one of the big banners," she said.

Greenpeace executive director John Sauven said: "We've got to raise the temperature of the debate because we are really running out of time.

"We are at a minute to midnight and there is so little time left but so much to do.

"Parliament is opening (today) and there is an election looming so this is a golden opportunity for the political parties to really think about the future and what future generations will face."

Speaking from the roof, Brikesh Singh, 29, from Bangalore in India, said: "This building is considered as the mother of all parliaments and the UK is one of the leading developed countries.

"It has to take leadership in solving the climate crisis so that developing countries can follow its lead."

The ease with which protesters gained access to the site raised concerns over security.

Senior Lib Dem MP Norman Baker said: "There is understandable concern about the need to move faster and more effectively to tackle climate change, and Greenpeace are right to seek to protest in a peaceful way.

"But I would have preferred it if they had not done it by breaching the House of Parliament.

"It shows that things are not as they should be in security terms.

"The House authorities really need to sort this out."

A spokeswoman from the Department for Energy and Climate Change said: "Public demonstration to highlight the need for action on climate change by all within society is welcome, but it must be conducted in a way that respects the rule of law.

"We have a comprehensive plan to transform our economy and society, by investing in green jobs, cleaning up our energy supplies and making our homes energy efficient.

"This week we host vital talks to accelerate the development of clean coal and to progress the Copenhagen deal. It's our domestic record that has given us the credibility we need to press hard for an ambitious global climate deal."

A House of Commons spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that 45 protesters climbed up the wall adjacent to the Cromwell Green building.

"Police have the situation contained. At no time did the protesters have any access to the building, nor did they seek it."



As the sun glinted on Big Ben, the campaigners proudly held up their fluorescent yellow banners.

A few cars sounded their horns in support of the rooftop protest amid the rush-hour traffic.

On the pavement below, Greenpeace campaigner Robin Oakley said morale was high and the group planned to stay as long as possible.

He said: "Our volunteers have spent the night on the roof and have woken up to a dawn where they are determined to get the message across to MPs who are back today.

"This morning the Committee On Climate Change - the Government's expert advisers - are saying we need a step change in Britain's efforts to cut emissions and the volunteers on the roof are determined that that message gets across.

"Until Britain puts climate change at the heart of its economic policy and industrial strategy, we won't get the clean energy, green jobs and CO2 cuts that we need both for Britain and to rebuild trust in international negotiations.

"It is a powerful thing to wake up at the heart of Britain's democracy with an urgent and vital message for Britain's politicians.

"It is a message for everyone that works in this place and it is extremely relevant today as the MPs return from the summer recess with just a few weeks to go before the international climate summit in Copenhagen."

Shortly before 8am the activists began using ropes to climb from a turret up to the higher and larger roof of the Great Hall.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore