Extinction Rebellion to end London blockades on Thursday

LONDON (Reuters) - Environmental campaigners Extinction Rebellion will close their two remaining central London protest sites on Thursday, the group said after 10 days of disruption in the British capital to highlight the risks of climate change.

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More than 1,000 people have been arrested during the protests, which started last Monday, as part of the group’s campaign of non-violent civil disobedience with the aim of stopping what it calls a global climate crisis.

The protesters said they would end the blockades at Marble Arch and Parliament Square. However, they promised more protests in the future, saying direct action was the only way to bring the issue to public attention.

“We know we have disrupted your lives. We do not do this lightly. We only do this because this is an emergency,” the group said in a statement on Wednesday

“Around the planet, a long-awaited and much-needed conversation has begun.”

The group said there would be a “closing ceremony” for the protests in Hyde Park at 5 p.m. (1600 GMT) on Thursday.

Protest organizers said they had blocked five high profile locations in London overall, clogging some of London’s major arterial roads and diverting bus routes.

Other stunts of the group include climbing on top of a light railway train in the financial district of Canary Wharf and a demonstration by children at Heathrow Airport.

Earlier in the month, a group of semi-naked protesters pressed themselves up against the glass screen of a public gallery overlooking the chamber of Britain’s parliament while lawmakers attempted to debate Brexit.

The protests took place after months of wrangling in Britain over its decision to leave the European Union, with Brexit dominating the political agenda and leaving little room for anything else.

The environment is now attracting more attention in Westminster. Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg met opposition leaders on Tuesday to discuss what the teenager calls an “existential crisis” for humanity.

She criticized Britain’s “ongoing irresponsible behavior”, and environment minister Michael Gove said he felt “admiration but also a sense of guilt” after he heard Thunberg speak.

Britain has lowered net emissions by 42 percent since 1990, and currently aims to cut emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Government advisors will suggest new targets next month.

Extinction Rebellion said that the days of disruption were just a taster of what was to come.

“The truth is out, the real work is about to begin. The International Rebellion continues,” it said. “Expect more actions very soon.”

Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Toby Chopra