Trump UK protests: Why environmental groups are protesting ‘climate vandal’ US president

'Those who are already vulnerable and powerless are suffering the most under the climate-denier-in-chief'

Josh Gabbatiss
Science Correspondent
Friday 13 July 2018 19:08 BST
Thousands gather in central London to protest Trump's visit

As tens of thousands gathered in London to protest the visit of Donald Trump, among them were protesters calling out the US president’s less than exemplary record on the environment.

Branding Mr Trump a “climate wrecker” and a “climate vandal”, green groups object particularly to his withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement – a move scientists say has put global security at risk.

“It does often get lost in the more immediate human rights abuses, but if Trump succeeds in derailing international climate action the consequences of that are going to be unthinkable,” Claire James from the Campaign against Climate Change told The Independent.

“The planet is really at a tipping point at the moment. Scientists are warning ever more urgently that we need to act, and we don’t have time to hang around while Trump tries a last ditch effort to rescue fossil fuels.”

A 100m banner on the embankment opposite the Houses of Parliament, next to St Thomas’ Hospital, dropped by protesters during Donald Trump’s UK visit

Since taking power, the current US administration has spurned efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slashed funding for climate science.

While much of the world moves towards renewable energy sources to meet its emissions targets, Mr Trump has stressed his desire to revitalise the fossil fuel industry and push “beautiful, clean coal” in the US.

Donald Trump protest: People tell The Independent why they are demonstrating against the president

Under its recently departed head Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency was sent in “exactly the wrong” direction, according to Democrat senator Bernie Sanders. Many accused Mr Pruitt of acting in the interests of the nation’s polluters and fossil fuel industry.

Mr Trump himself is a known climate sceptic – suggesting global warming is a “hoax” perpetrated by China and demonstrating a misunderstanding of climate trends in an interview with Piers Morgan in January.

While expressing his fondness for “clean air and clean water”, the president opined that ice caps are currently “at a record level”, despite Nasa data revealing sea ice extent in both the Arctic and the Antarctic is currently at its lowest point in living memory.

Friends of the Earth and the Campaign against Climate Change led the climate bloc at the London protests

“The most powerful man on the planet is a climate-wrecker,” said Craig Bennett, Friends of the Earth (FoE) chief executive.

“Since taking the Oval Office Trump has trampled over climate change progress, reneged on the Paris agreement and clearly scoffs at any link between the environment and issues of race and social justice.

“Those who are already vulnerable and powerless are suffering the most under the climate-denier-in-chief.”

FoE and the Campaign against Climate Change led the protest’s climate change bloc, and were joined by many who had never taken part in rallies before.

The night before the march, anti-Trump protesters unfurled a banner across from the Houses of Parliament reading “Trump: Climate Genocide”.

What is the Paris climate agreement?

Protesters were joined by Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas who told The Independent she was taking to the streets “because I want to show the strength of support for bold and positive global collective action – and in peaceful solidarity with all those who stand for social and environmental justice”.

She said: “Trump is a climate vandal, whose crimes include eradicating mention of climate change from the White House website, breathing new life into two controversial oil pipelines, greenlighting more coal, declaring war on solar power and recklessly pulling the US out of the Paris global climate deal."

Fellow Green Party representative Magid Magid went even further in his criticism of the US president, declaring him a “wasteman” and “banning” him from the city of Sheffield, where he is mayor.

Despite their passionate opposition to the US president, the protesters insisted they were acting in solidarity with the US people.

“This is not an anti-American protest,” said Ms James.

“It’s about sending a message to our own leaders because Trump’s own blatant pulling out from the Paris climate deal gives other leaders a cover to be less ambitious than they might have been.”

Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said: “Trump’s record in office reads like the plot of a new Mad Max film.”

“He’s a walking offence to the values of tolerance, fairness, and openness Britain holds dear. If Theresa May doesn’t want to stand up for these values, we will.”

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