21 September 2021

Irritate Britain – the M25 eco-radicals have pushed the public’s patience too far


As I write this article eco-radicals have blocked the M25 for the fourth time in a fortnight.  Insulate Britain (IB), a splinter group of Extinction Rebellion, have for weeks disrupted people’s livelihoods, wasted police time and public money, and have generally pissed British people off.

Reckless, illegal stunts performed by these eco-warriors do far more harm than good. They are bad for ordinary people. Just two days ago a woman was paralysed because she was unable to get to hospital due to the M25 blockade. They are also bad for the protestors who are dragging their own names and credibility through the mud. And they are bad for the climate cause.

Ironically. climate protests often cause more pollution problems than they solve. Roadblocks on the M25 force gas-guzzling vehicles to sit in traffic and puff fumes into the sky. Climate conscious hypocrites left 120 tons of rubbish in their wake after the 2018 ‘Great Rebellion’. All this does is highlight the ludicrousness of these self-righteous preachers whilst simultaneously turning people away from the climate movement.

Videos of angry commuters, desperate to get to work, are all over my Twitter feed. It’s hard not to sympathise with their frustrations or even cheer as they drag protestors out of the road. One despairing truck driver spoke for many when he confronted the so-called activists and asked ‘you’re stopping someone from getting to hospital… why the hell do you think this is the right thing to do?’

And this isn’t the first time irritated people have made it clear that they’re fed up with these stunts. Time and again frustrated no-nonsense commuters have been forced to take matters into their own hands, pulling XR activists from trains or unsticking them from the road.

Yesterday, Boris Johnson said the M25 protesters were ‘damaging their own cause’ and it’s clear that this is a perspective shared by a majority of the nation. YouGov shows that 60% of Brits oppose climate activists blocking the M25. That number increases to 70% when you poll people who have ‘have heard a great deal / a fair amount about the protests’. The more people hear about climate protesters the less they like them and their movement.

I’m certainly one of those who is losing patience. I was once relatively sympathetic to XR’s cause – I now struggle to listen to their nonsense. How can I take people dancing round broccoli seriously? What are the genuine policy proposals of people nodding their heads to drum and bass on a Tuesday morning? Why is this movement so intent on angering the very people they are trying to win over?

Perhaps loud, annoying protests have a part to play in starting conversations and raising the profile of overlooked issues, but climate change is hardly a niche interest. There is an overwhelming cross-party consensus that more action should be taken, and big steps have been taken. Indeed, Britain has been reducing its CO2 emissions by more than any other G20 country since 1990.

The argument for eco-friendly policies has also been won in the public domain. According to YouGov 83% of Brits believe the climate is changing and 71% believe this is as a result of human activity. Most sensible people now acknowledge that climate change is real and principally agree with the protesters that more needs to be done, they just don’t agree with their methods.

Despite this XR and IB activists with nothing better to do continue to disrupt the lives of ordinary people, tainting the climate conversation with their radicalism.

The most recent climate protest and blocking of the M25 have been tiresome and embarrassing – and the final straw for lots of people. Extinction Rebellion has achieved nothing except for a collection of bad headlines, a gaggle of angry commuters, and wasting the time of a tired police force.

There are better ways for climate organisations to push their agenda and some, like The Climate Coalition, have been doing this successfully. The truth is that XR does not really exist to solve the climate crisis. It’s a deeply political movement, committed to a far-left view of economics – and it has long outlived its usefulness. We need to take climate change seriously, but the cause would be better served if Extinction Rebellion became extinct.

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Sabrina Miller is a Reporter for Guido Fawkes.

Columns are the author's own opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of CapX.