Protesters carrying banners reading “planet before profit” and “this is an emergency” gathered outside Broadcasting House, with BBC staff unable to enter or leave the building during the demonstration.
Two activists climbed on to the canopy roof outside the broadcaster’s offices, while others appeared to glue their hands to the building, in an attempt to force the BBC to declare a climate emergency.
“We’re here today to demand that the BBC respond to the emergency in the way they responded to World War Two i.e. devoting the entire professional management structure to getting the message out to the British public,” said Donnachadh McCarthy, a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion.
“We’re here because the BBC has refused to declare a climate emergency. We’re also here today because the BBC continues to normalise high-carbon lifestyles with programmes like Top Gear promoting flying and driving.”
Nihal Arthanayake, a presenter for BBC Radio 5Live, defended the activists by comparing them to the Suffragettes and urging critics of the group to “get a grip”.
He tweeted: “I wonder how many people who support what the Suffragettes did now condemn what @ExtinctionR are doing. Or perhaps haven’t seen the parallels.
As I walked into the BBC this morning every member of @ExtinctionR apologised for the disruption. I got into work very easily. BBC people complaining should get a grip.”
The demonstration was the latest in a week of planned protests which has already seen more than 1,000 people arrested since Monday.
The group is calling for urgent action to tackle climate change and wildlife losses.
On Thursday, demonstrations focused on London City Airport, where protesters attempted a “Hong Kong-style occupation” of the terminal building, with hundreds blocking the main entrance.
One demonstrator, named by Extinction Rebellion as former Paralympic cyclist James Brown, climbed on top of a British Airways jet.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick described the act as “reckless, stupid and dangerous”.
She added that protesters were “utterly irresponsible and completely unreasonable” for their determination to occupy central London.
But in a statement, Extinction Rebellion raised concerns that extreme weather caused by climate change would lead to crop losses, food crises, social unrest and damage to infrastructure, and said people were risking arrest to show “how vulnerable we are”.
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