A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said: “Shortly after 6am we were alerted to a small group of protestors climbing the outside of a government building in Marsham Street to access the roof.
“Officers are on the scene with the London Fire Brigade and are engaging with the protestors. As yet, there have been no arrests.”
The building is home to the Department for Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs and the Home Office.
The protesters said they were scaling the building to demand “government support for a plant-based food system at Cop26”. They added: “The protestors have said that they will take action until the government defunds meat and subsidises a plant-based transition.”
They intend to remain on the building, suspended in hammocks, “until UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledges to cut all taxpayer support for animal agriculture”.
Animal Rebellion is an off-shoot group of Extinction Rebellion, which is particularly focused on the impact of the meat industry on climate change.
Nathan McGovern, who was on the ground at the action, said that four activists had scaled the building at around 6am on Tuesday morning.
He said: “The climbers plan to stay there indefinitely. They will be unfurling a banner that will be presenting the government with our demand that they should be investing in a plant based future. Then we will take it from there.
“There are three or four police cars here and they have shut the section of road in front of Defra and the Home Office. There are a couple of fire engines and an ambulance here as well.
“All the protesters have rucksacks and supplies with them. They are on the building with harnesses and ropes so they are safe and in no danger. It has been done in a very controlled, safe way.”
A spokesperson for the group, Bel Jacobs, said: “The UK government is simultaneously saying that it is a world leader in climate change whilst propping up the unsustainable and unprofitable meat and dairy industry, one that emits disproportionate amounts of greenhouse gases.
“This hypocrisy has to end – we need to defund meat and subsidise plant-based alternatives instead.”
The Metropolitan Police said they were working “as quickly as possible to remove those who have climbed the building in the safest way”.
They added: “Working from height is incredibly complex and can be dangerous. With height, comes risk. We have specialist teams who train for these scenarios, but we must allow those officers to make a number of detailed assessments before they attempt to remove activists.
“The claims that officers at the scene ‘just stand watching’ is not a fair reflection of events.”
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