Extinction Rebellion–Bristol close down Filton Abbeywood MoD complex

Climate Activists blockade British military command center in Bristol. Photo by Roland Dye.

At about 6.30am, before dawn, on Friday, December 11, a coalition of Extinction Rebellion (XR) groups blockaded the vast MoD centre in north Bristol. Around forty activists from XR Bristol, Christian Climate Action, XR Peace and others unloaded wooden towers and a tripod to seal off all three vehicle entrances. Banners were strung across the roads and people clipped their arms into lockon tubes.

The date chosen was the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement pledging to keep climate change below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Asked by police why they took action, Michael Truesdale of XR Bristol told them, “Five years ago, the Paris Agreement gave me hope. It was a lie. We have stopped nothing. Our scientists are telling us that the 1.5° limit we imagined at that summit is now a pipe dream, and we should prepare for a 4° rise in global temperatures. At that point, or sooner, society would collapse as the oceans rise, soil dries and total war envelopes the planet. The Climate Crisis will create war, whilst war is also contributing to the climate crisis. Both from the massive direct emissions – the US military being the largest polluter in the world, and as a barrier to positive international relations. We must break the cycle.”

The blockade drew attention to what the protestors describe as the government’s “dangerously inadequate response” to the climate emergency.  The Government has just committed £24 billion to military spending over the next 4 years, yet only £16 billion to their Climate Plan

Protester Reverend Sue Parfitt of Christian Climate Action, said “Time is running out. We have to take extreme measures. the reason we’re here is because the military’s emissions produce an enormous amount of toxins and it’s warming the planet. I don’t believe the answer to the ‘aggravated threats to international peace and security’ is to develop more sophisticated weapons. We have to spend the money that’s needed on climate action. If we fail on this, the results will be unimaginable suffering.”

Sita Ruskin, of Bristol Extinction Rebellion, said “We’re here to say to our government: spend our money on combatting climate change – not on putting weapons into combat.  Failing to take action on climate change is what will fuel war. It’s predicted that conflicts could increase by 10% to 20% for every half degree Fahrenheit increase in global temperatures.”

Police moved in to clear protesters by late morning. Quaker Gaie Delap and Reverend Sue Parfitt were arrested for obstruction of the highway and released later in the day. There was traffic disruption around the site for the rest of the day.