Ci Davis, from campaign group Extinction Rebellion, spent eight days in the capital from last Monday and returned to Barnsley this week having joined scores of protesters which resulted in approximately 1,500 arrests.
The 55-year-old camped at several locations, including St James’s Park outside Buckingham Palace and outside the Houses of Parliament, and was arrested for a public order offence, spending 12 hours in Wandsworth Police Station before being released.
Ci, from Worsbrough, said the group failed to achieve its ambition of making the government take the matter seriously, but told the Chronicle factions of campaigners will continue to lobby Barnsley Council to force change locally after criticising its recently-declared ‘climate emergency’.
“I was joined by several people from the town as it’s an issue that threatens to completely destabilise society,” Ci, a physiotherapist, said. “Many people who I joined made huge personal sacrifice of arrest.
“The climate and the environment is in a perilous state. I know people are sick to the back teeth of people claiming to be telling the truth, and yet appearing to only be looking after their own interests.
“I sound like one of those people. However I was trained in the health service to act upon science, and now 97 per cent of all climate scientists are saying the same thing that unless we take dramatic action to reduce our carbon emissions to zero, and at an unprecedented rate, then we will face global catastrophes of unimaginable consequences.
“Despite knowing for 40 years that rising greenhouse gases would cause severe changes to the climate and threaten the existence of society and humanity, our governments have failed to heed these warnings. They have played Russian Roulette and now we face the bullet in the last chamber.
“Our leaders have totally forgotten how to tell the truth and we know that. Our government has failed to protect us and instead protected the interests of the oil companies and provided all the subsidies, tax breaks and legal protections to allow them to continue to destroy the planet, and still profit from every single bit of destruction caused.
“When a government fails to look after and protect its citizens, it’s both the right and the duty to stand up and carry out that protection.
“This means being prepared to sacrifice your time, liberty, and even your life. We know that of course we do, our grandfathers sacrificed themselves in World War Two, and their fathers before.
“It is now our time to make a sacrifice for our children, grandchildren and the planet.”
While Ci admitted that protesters’ behaviour had angered some people, he said it was a ’50-50’ split and he called on Barnsley Council to alter its own climate emergency declaration to revise its ambitions.
The council’s strategy is to reduce pollution levels and bosses are aiming to achieve a zero carbon borough by 2040 - ten years sooner than the government is aiming for nationally - as air pollution has been cited as the fourth biggest threat to public health after cancer, heart disease and obesity.
“Destructive schemes such as the proposed gyratory at Penny Pie Park is something that needs looking at as while the council will say it’s doing it to reduce congestion, we believe the road will simply attract even more vehicles to it,” Ci added.
“The council’s zero carbon ambition simply isn’t good enough - the 2040 target is too far away and change must happen much sooner.”