Trial for disturbing public order | Greta Thunberg calls for fighting “the real enemy” of the climate

(London) Greta Thunberg called on Thursday not to have the wrong “enemy” at the end of the first day of her trial in London, where the environmental activist is being tried for disturbing public order during a demonstration in last October targeting the hydrocarbon industry.

“Even though we are the ones standing here, (…) environmental and human rights activists all over the world are being prosecuted (…) for acting in accordance with science. We have to remember who the real enemy is,” the 21-year-old Swede told reporters as she left Westminster Magistrates Court where her trial is due to end on Friday.

A total of 26 activists were arrested for disrupting access to the Energy Intelligence Forum, a conference which brought together the main oil and gas companies in a luxury hotel in the British capital on October 17, 2023.

That day, the activists greeted the participants with “shame on you”. “Behind these closed doors (…) politicians without stature make agreements and compromises with lobbyists from the destructive fossil fuel sector,” Greta Thunberg told the press, before being put in a police van.

The young activist is being prosecuted for not having complied with the injunction of the London police not to block access to the hotel where this rally took place.

Released under judicial supervision, the next day she took part in a new demonstration in front of the five-star hotel, with hundreds of other people.

She pleaded not guilty in November to public order offenses during a first hearing, like the four other activists who appeared with her. She risks a maximum fine of 2,500 pounds, or nearly 4,500 Canadian dollars.

Dressed in a dark gray t-shirt and black pants, with her hair tied in a ponytail, Greta Thunberg is not due to testify until Friday.

Thursday during the hearing, she appeared calm, smiling at activists seated in the part of the room reserved for the public. She could not hide a mocking smile when prosecution representative Luke Staton explained in his opening remarks that the five defendants had demonstrated on the first day of a meeting in London where major players in the oil and gas sector were to “discuss and debate” how to develop “sustainable solutions” for energy.

The activist then spent most of the hearing drawing in a small notebook.

“Not a crime”

Most of the debates on Thursday revolved around the instructions given to the accused by the police officers who arrested them, several of whom came to testify.

In a video shown at the hearing, Greta Thunberg was seen responding “no” to a police officer who asked her if she wanted to leave, then “yes” when he explained to her that she would be arrested if she refused to leave the premises. .

A handful of environmental activists were present at the opening of the trial in court to support the world figure in the fight against global warming.

“When the world we know is under attack, what do we do? We must fight,” they said, holding a yellow banner on which was written: “the climate fight is not a crime”.

In the United Kingdom, the reversals of Rishi Sunak’s conservative government on key measures in the fight against the climate emergency, and its decision to grant new permits for the exploitation of hydrocarbon deposits in the North Sea, have sparked the anger of activists. They have filed several legal challenges and increased actions in recent months.

In return, they attracted the hostility of the executive which toughened the legislation to punish them more severely and dissuade them from taking action.

Greta Thunberg, who gained worldwide notoriety with her “School Climate Strikes” started at the age of 15 in Sweden, regularly takes part in such demonstrations.

In October, it received a fine for blocking the port of Malmö in Sweden. Last weekend, she took part in a march in the south of England against the expansion of Farnborough Airport, which is mainly used by private jets.


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