Extinction Rebellion lock-on at Holyrood

4 June 2019, 15:08 | Updated: 4 June 2019, 15:10

Extinction Rebellion Scotland

Environmental protesters locked themselves on to the Scottish Parliament building and posted the keys to party leaders.

It was all in the hope of getting changes to the Climate Change Bill.

Five activists from the Extinction Rebellion Scotland group with locks around their necks were attached to the Holyrood building with the means of freeing them sent to the leaders of the SNP, Conservatives, Labour, the Scottish Greens and the Liberal Democrats.

An accompanying note told the leaders that they "hold the key to our future" and said the target for net-zero carbon emissions by 2045 "is nowhere near ambitious enough to minimise the risk of catastrophic climate change".

A report by the Committee on Climate Change recommended that the UK should aim to be net-zero by 2050, with Scotland proposing a target for doing so five years earlier.

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie arrived first to unlock 21-year-old student Ellie Harris, who was calling for a citizens' assembly to guide policy on the climate.

After being unlocked, Ms Harris said: "The Climate Bill, as it stands, is entirely inadequate and we want MSPs to come up with radical amendments."

"We just want them to lower their (2045) target drastically. We want them to say they are going to have net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 because if they don't then there's going to be catastrophic damage for everyone on the planet."

Speaking to his freed campaigner, Mr Harvie said: "Getting people's voices into the debate about how Scotland should change not just in the (Scottish Parliament) building but right throughout society is really crucial."

Asked about the protest, Mr Harvie described it as "creative and engaging" and added: "I don't think this is civil disobedience, this is insistence."

"People are recognising the position the world is in is perilous and if we'd started the urgent action that's necessary 40 years ago it might have been easy, but now we're on the verge of a crisis.

"Unless we act with incredible urgency we're not going to hand on a planet that is liveable for the next generation."

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Willie Rennie was the next leader to arrive and, after eventually finding his key, unlocked a second demonstrator, followed by Maurice Golden on behalf of the Tories and Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard.

The final MSP to free a protester was Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham, who told activists that Scotland's climate change target would be the most ambitious in the world.

While the protesters were attached to the parliament, dozens of Sudanese demonstrators also held up placards and chanted, calling for an end to the violence and killings in their north-east African homeland.

Responding to the protest, a Scottish Government spokesman said: "There is a global climate emergency and the Scottish Government is acting accordingly.

"We acted immediately on the recent advice of our independent scientific advisors, the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC), by lodging amendments to our Climate Change Bill that set a net-zero target for 2045.

Our proposals are the most ambitious statutory targets anywhere in the world and would mean that Scotland's contribution to climate change will end, definitively, within a generation.

"We remain the only Government in the UK to have acted on the CCC advice and will continue to take the action required to preserve and protect our planet while ensuring our transition to net-zero is just and fair to everyone."