The efforts of Extinction Rebellion, Just Stop Oil and Insulate Britain have caused discomfort for some across the country.

The environmental activists have been deploying direct action tactics to draw politicians and the public’s attention to the climate and biodiversity crises engulfing the earth.

The protesters say the world is in an emergency, with action needed now to stop a catastrophe unfolding. They do not believe that traditional forms of protest such as lobbying politicians, going on marches etc are having the required impact. Hence, the need for more direct activity.

The protesters’ argument has no doubt been aided by the actions, or should that be inactions of the politicians over recent months.

As Just Stop Oil were blocking roads and locking onto bridges, politicians from across the world gathered for latest COP (27) meeting.

The headline news was that rather than cut emissions, the world is racing ever more quickly toward catastrophic levels of warming. Meanwhile, the COP participants discussed why the actions agreed 12 months earlier had not happened. A major cause being the First World countries’ failure to come up with the money pledged.

The protesters are right to take the actions they have. The report of the International Panel on Climate Change in 2018, warned there were 12 years to address the crisis. So far, the first four years have been wasted. Emissions and habitat destruction has continued and even accelerated.

It is as though the world is caught in some sort of giant bubble of denial. What no doubt irks the protesters is that all humanity has recently witnessed how the world does react to a real emergency – namely the Covid pandemic.

That was accepted very quickly as a real emergency and some very draconian actions were taken to deal with it.

Having seen how humanity reacts to a genuine emergency, can anyone wonder those passionately concerned about our planet suggest the environmental emergency is not being dealt with by a similar level of seriousness?

The only feasible response is to take the protesters’ concerns seriously, recognise this is a very real emergency and treat it as such.

Emergency must mean exactly that at every level of government - until that happens people will rightly keep protesting in whatever form they consider necessary to obtain the fundamental changes required to save the planet.

  • Paul Donovan is a Redbridge Labour councillor for Wanstead village and blogger. See