In chaotic scenes as the capital’s streets were once again shut down – costing retailers millions in lost business – the actress urged activists not to stop demonstrating hours before their pink boat in Oxford Circus was finally removed by police.
This week’s Extinction Rebellion (XR) demonstrations have closed key routes through the capital, cost businesses tens of millions in lost revenue, inconvenienced half a million people a day, and resulted in at least 682 arrests, but show no sign of abating.
Yesterday organisers said they had seen an increase in people joining up, pointing to warm weather, the Easter holiday, and a David Attenborough documentary about climate change broadcast on Thursday evening as motivators.
The demonstrators lost their beloved boat yesterday as the bright pink Berta Cacares in Oxford Circus was finally carted away by police after 100 hours in situ.
But as the protest enters its sixth day it shows no sign of abating.
Crowds who attempted to prevent the police removing the pink ship chanted ‘we have more boats’, and organisers said that on Easter Monday they planned to expand the protest to include ‘picnics on motorways’.
The teenage founder of the millions-strong global movement of school strikes against climate change, Greta Thunberg, 16, told The Guardian she hopes to join the XR protests when she arrives in London this weekend.
Dozens of officers strode into the crowd of activists today and started to surround the pink boat which Dame Emma was in
Dame Emma speaks to protesters this morning from the pink boat that has blocked traffic from Oxford Circus for five days
Dame Emma talks to members of the media from on top of the pink boat after police officers surrounded it today
Once Dame Emma had got off the pink boat at Oxford Circus today, specialist officers began cutting protesters from its frame
Speaking on the pink boat at the centre of the protest, she dismissed accusations of hypocrisy for flying 5,400 miles from Los Angeles to Heathrow to join in.
She admitted that she had flown business class, saying that at 60 she was ‘far too old’ to use economy.
She also displayed a non-plastic bottle and a set of wooden cutlery that she carries in her handbag at all times in order to cut down on her plastic use.
Dame Emma said: ‘I don’t fly very much at all in the same way I did. I’ve made a big effort in that regard and sometimes I do have to fly.
‘Where the hypocrisy lies is with the Government who have refused over many decades to clean up our aviation systems. I am fed up of governments and saying, “It’s your fault”. It is b******s.’
A flight from LA International to Heathrow generates 1.67 to 2.1 tons of CO2.
Dame Emma said she tries to off-set carbon emissions by planting trees at her Scottish holiday home. She added that her husband, the actor Greg Wise, plans to build a hydro-electric scheme at the property so that the couple can live there off-grid.
On her second day at the scene, the actress was surrounded by hundreds of adoring protesters as she climbed on top of the wooden boat that was barricading Oxford Street to read a ‘love letter’ to the planet.
But the event took a dramatic turn as hundreds of police surrounded the wheeled vessel with her still on top.
Huge crowds thronged around the pink boat in Oxford Circus until it was towed away
Dame Emma poured scorn on the Metropolitan Police’s decision to escalate its approach on the fifth day of the protests having taken a hammering for its light-touch strategy earlier in the week.
She said: ‘We didn’t ask for police resources, that is their decision. It’s not like we are burning things down. The police turned up because they have been asked to turn up. They decided to spend their money in this way, which I personally think is a waste of taxpayers’ money. We aren’t doing anything violent.’
She said it was ‘nonsensical’ to blame her and Extinction Rebellion, the group behind the protests, for potentially diverting police resources from tackling violent crime.
‘It is not my problem, it is their problem,’ she said. ‘It is the problem of Government, so don’t hand it back to me because I have dealt with this [climate change] for decades.
‘What this is about is a Government that would prefer not to listen, who would prefer to put entirely peaceful protesters into a f****** police cell instead of doing what they promised to do for decades. They are liars and hypocrites.’