Climate change protesters block traffic on major Sheffield city centre road
Climate campaigners blocked off a major Sheffield city centre road during the morning rush-hour causing traffic chaos for commuters.
Tensions rose between frustrated motorists and members of Extinction Rebellion who blocked traffic on the crossing outside Sheffield railway station on Sheaf Street.
The group staged a series of protests – each of around five minutes in duration – between 8am and 9am on Tuesday in the hope of stopping what they said was the ‘extinction of nature and of people’.
Motorists were seen getting out of cars and shouting abuse at the campaigners, who attempted to explain the reason for the protest to drivers stuck in the traffic.
Dr Bing Jones, of Extinction Rebellion, said: “Nobody is listening to the scientists when they say they are completely confident that we have got 12 years to take really radical action to sort this.
“Politicians don’t turn up for debates, local authorities aren't actually committed to meaningful action, so we need to block the roads to make people take notice.”
Around 50 campaigners took to the crossing with banners, which said: ‘Sorry to stop you – the planet is dying’ and another which read: ‘Climate emergency’.
A number of motorists beeped their horns in frustration and one man even got out to confront the protesters.
Dr Jones said: “We are sorry. We don’t want to cause inconvenience, we want to cause change. We are sorry that people are being put out but at least we have raised the profile of this really awful issue. Our children are going to suffer the consequences of our lazy lifestyle unless we do something about it now.”
One driver, who said he was trying to get into Sheffield city centre for a meeting at 9am, said: “I get their point but they are disrupting the wrong people and going about it the wrong way.
“I’ve got a hybrid car and just trying to go about my business and get to work – if they are protesting against a lack of action from politicians then go and do it outside the town hall or Westminster, not one of Sheffield’s busiest roads during rush hour.”
During the protest, around 20 campaigners stood side-by-side on the pelican crossing, holding banners and placards calling for action to stop climate change.
Another protester, who would only give her name as Dee, said: “We have been waiting 30 years for the Government to take action – nothing happened and you can sign all the petitions you want, but that doesn't make change happen.
“I have got children and I really want them to have clean air, food and water. If climate change is just allowed to happen then they won't get that."
Dee, who was one of those who formed a human barrier on the crossing, said she feared the Arctic ice caps would melt within five years and called for more investment in a ‘decent public transport system’.
She added: “This is a very time sensitive issue and blocking the road is nothing compared to the upset that people are going to have because of climate change.
“I am really sorry to those people whose journeys we have affected, and if I was in a car in that queue I would be really upset too, but we have to force action.”
Dr Jones said the Extinction Rebellion group would be part of a climate change protest in London next month.
He added: “Extinction Rebellion now has groups in 40 countries and it has members and presence in 140 countries so we are here to stay.
“We are here to highlight climate change and we will continue to do just that.”