Boris Johnson tells Extinction Rebellion climate change protesters to 'lecture China' instead
The climate change protesters who have brought parts of London to a standstill in a bid to highlight the plight of the planet should go and "lecture" China instead, Boris Johnson has suggested.
The former mayor of London hit out at Extinction Rebellion protesters - who have warned that the world faces an "unprecedented global climate emergency" - for "paralysing public transport in the greatest city on earth, and stopping people from getting to work".
And he urged them to instead target China, whose carbon dioxide emissions are still "rising vertiginously".
Police last night moved to clear remaining Extinction Rebellion protesters from London's Waterloo Bridge, while the roads around Parliament Square have also been cleared.
Writing in the Telegraph, Mr Johnson said he was increasingly "worried" about the future of the planet and "the frightening impact of humanity on the natural world".
"It is precisely because I have seen the evidence, over time, that I cannot find it in my heart – no matter how smug, irritating and disruptive they may be – to condemn these protesters today," he wrote.
But the ex-Cabinet minister argued that Britain was already "a world leader in reducing the greenhouse gases that are associated with climate change" - including retrofitting buildings, boosting renewable energy sources and being "utterly ruthless" in moving away from coal-fired power stations.
And he instead urged the protestors to train their fire on Beijing.
"The Chinese now produce more CO2 than the EU and US combined – and more than 60 per cent of their power comes from coal," he said
"Here, for heaven’s sake, is the real opportunity for protest. It was only in 1990 that the UK was 70 per cent reliant on coal. Look at the speed with which we have turned things round."
Mr Johnson added: "My map tells me that London is nearer to Beijing than it is to Los Angeles. Surely this is the time for the protesters to take their pink boat to Tiananmen Square, and lecture them in the way they have been lecturing us. Whether the Chinese will allow them to block the traffic is another matter."
The Extinction Rebellion protests have already won the backing of Labour's Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, with the Shadow Chancellor saying the group had highlighted the world's "climate change emergency".
But on Sunday mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: "I share the passion about tackling climate change of those protesting, and support the democratic right to peaceful and lawful protest, but this is now taking a real toll on our city – our communities, businesses and police. This is counter-productive to the cause and our city."
The group warns that the world is already in "a period of abrupt climate breakdown" and is calling on the Government to declare "a climate and ecological emergency" and cut carbon emissions to zero by 2025.
Ministers in 2016 pledged to enshrine a zero-carbon target in law, although no legislation has yet been passed.
Extinction Rebellion also wants the Government to set up "and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice".