'We need activism and we must think before we criminalise'

Insulate Britain protester Emma Smart and husband Andy Smith

Insulate Britain protester Emma Smart and husband Andy Smith - Credit: Emma Smart/Andy Smith

Someone I admire hugely is behind bars today because she has stood up for her principles. 

Many readers will not agree with Insulate Britain’s tactics - I don’t entirely - but what those people are trying to push up the news agenda is a message most of us support. 

Emma Smart is currently on hunger strike in HMP Bronzefield because she believes the government is not doing enough to protect the world’s population from climate change, and she’s right, of course. 

The COP26 outcome was a start and nothing more. 

Reading a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson before attempting to hand it in at 10 Downing Streeton October 14, 2021

Reading a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson before attempting to hand it in at 10 Downing Streeton October 14, 2021 - Credit: PA/Aaron Chown

I know Emma a bit, but not well. She’s a music lover (Jarvis Cocker, if you’re reading this…) full of wanderlust, who put travelling aside for the sake of climate activism. 

On the weekend, 124 Insulate Britain protesters were arrested over the blocking of Lambeth and Vauxhall bridges, including Emma's husband, Andy Smith.

I don't know what the best way to protest is - and there are certainly safety issues around Insulate Britain’s tactics on the roads - but it certainly isn't "quietly".

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Greta Thunberg recently said that “sometimes you’ve got to anger people”, and faced criticism that she herself does not have the answers. That’s fine. You can demand change without knowing how to legislate.

We need people to make noise and we need to ask ourselves what criminalising them achieves.  

Police remove an Insulate Britain climate activist taking part in a demonstration on Vauxhall Bridge on November 20

Police remove an Insulate Britain climate activist taking part in a demonstration on Vauxhall Bridge on November 20 - Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Maybe we, humankind, will find a way to turn this around so that future generations can have a better life, and if we do, it will be, in part, because of those who shouted.

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