Energy minister: Extinction Rebellion vandalism unacceptable

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng has criticised the climate activism group Extinction Rebellion for recent protests which he said constituted “criminal damage and vandalism”.

It follows demonstration by the organisation’s Cambridge branch which involved digging up the lawn of Trinity College at the university to protest of its links to oil and gas companies.

On its Facebook page, Extinction Rebellion wrote: “Trinity College has invested £9.1m in oil and gas companies, the most of any of the 45 Oxbridge colleges.”

It said the establishment “must cut ties with fossil fuel companies and stop trying to hawk off nature for profit,” adding, “Oh, and it should take the opportunity to replace the lawn with flowers.”

The college has said it is liaising with police over the protest 

But Mr Kwarteng said he did not think the move would help Extinction Rebellion’s cause and that it instead “alienates people”.

“I think many people who are inclined to support them and feel that their passion is really impressive, many of those people are absolutely appalled by the criminal damage and the vandalism, frankly, that they’re seeing on television,” he told talkRADIO’s Mike Graham.

The Conservative MP added: “I don’t know what the Cambridgeshire police policy was – all I saw on television was criminal damage and I think it’s completely unacceptable.”

WATCH: Protestors call for 'life over profit' as they dig in London

Trinity College said it is liaising with police.

A spokeswoman said: “The college respects the right to freedom of speech and non-violent protest but draws the line at criminal damage and asked the protesters to leave.

“Academics at Trinity are actively engaged in research to understand and develop solutions to climate change, and taking practical steps forward.”

A similar protest took place in London last week were activists dug up ground outside the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in protest of the expansion of Durham coal mine.

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