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Extinction Rebellion Protests Include Man Scaling Big Ben

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An Extinction Rebellion climate protester scaled London’s great Big Ben, one of Britain’s most renowned landmarks. Videos circulating social media showed a man wearing a costume and blond wig to look like Prime Minister Boris Johnson climbing the clock to unveil banners that read “Citizens Assembly” and No pride on a dead planet.”

The protester, identified as 43-year-old Ben Atkinson, made the solo Big Ben climb to drop the Extinction Rebellion banner to bring awareness that the government has failed to take any kind of action on the Climate and Ecological Emergency that’s been announced. 

The city’s metro police were called to the area around 3:30 p.m. after reports of a man climbing the scaffolding of Big Ben. The city instituted a London-wide public order ban, which the activist group has ignored and has held protests in many parts of the city, disrupting life. According to the group, the ban is an erosion of democracy, and they demanded more action be taken on climate change.

The environmental group known as Extinction Rebellion has used disruptive methods to bring awareness about climate change, holding protests all around London and Britain for two weeks in what it calls its Autumn Uprising demonstrations. Friday’s action was the finale of its present campaign in the capital. 

On Thursday, city commuters yanked protesters off the top of a subway train with fights breaking out among the groups.

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Australia’s PM Looks To Squash Climate Activists’ Activity

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison minced no words Friday when he made clear how he felt about environmental protesters, calling them anarchists and radicals.  And, it appears he will stymie what he feels is a threat to the economy. 

Morrison’s conservative government is looking at ways in which it can ban activists that put pressure on companies not to work with the mining and other industries that produce a large carbon footprint. 

Morrison said the government is currently looking at ways these practices can be outlawed as they threaten those Australians’ livelihood, especially those in the regional and rural areas.  He said new threats to the resources sector have come about. Morrison said a new wave of radical activism has been given life, and it’s apocalyptic with no room for compromise. 

Morrison is talking about groups such as Extinction Rebellion, and he’s waging war on these groups. Three years ago, Morrison brought coal to parliament, showing support for the second-largest export.  Australian protesters have targeted the coal industry, especially in light of the prospective Queensland project Adani Power Ltd. is considering. 

Australia is an extremely dry continent that is prone to catastrophic wildfires. The government said it was working to meet the Paris-emissions-reduction targets, but critics feel they’re not doing enough, and the nation still gets most of its energy from fossil fuel. 

With Extinction Rebellion gaining steam, it appears Australia is going to see a rise in activism as well. To combat dangerous situations that activists may put themselves in the state government of Queensland is contemplating legislation that would make it illegal for activists to fasten themselves to various objects. 

With the risks of climate change playing a role in investment decisions, resource businesses, such as Adani, are having a hard time getting financing for their coal-related projects. And, banks, pension funds and insurance companies are facing a lot of pressure from these environmental groups not to fund projects that can lead to climate damage. 

Morrison said some of the nation’s biggest businesses would not offer financing or consulting services to these coal industry companies. And, he said this could spill over into other areas if the environmental groups are allowed to continue their rampage. 

Frontline Action on Coal Andy Paine said there would be no need to lobby if the prime minister and care for his citizens and the ecosystem.

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Swedish Teenage Activist Turns Down Prestige Climate Award

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Greta Thunberg, the Swedish climate activist that helped to spark the “Fridays for Future” movement that went worldwide, recently turned down an environmental award. Her reason? The climate movement must get people in power to listen to the science of climate change, not awards. 

The Nordic Council, the regional body for inter-parliamentary cooperation, recently honored her during a Stockholm ceremony.  The theme for this year’s event was focused on creativity, endorsing justifiable consumption and production with the idea of doing more with less.  

Both Sweden and Norway nominated her for her genuine efforts, saying she brought new life into a debate about the climate and environment at a crucial time in history. The organization awarded her for its yearly environmental prize – the 2019 Nordic Council Environmental Prize.  After its announcement, a Thunberg representative announced she would not accept the award or $52,200 prize. 

According to an Instagram post, she said the climate movement doesn’t need more awards. Instead, she wrote, what’s needed is more politicians and people in power to listen to what scientists are saying. 

She thanked the Nordic Council for the honor but criticized them for not living up to their reputation on climate issues and claim they need to do more. Thunberg wrong that actual emissions and ecological footprint her capital speak louder than words. 

She said until action is taken that aligns with what science shows is needed – to decrease the global temperature by two degrees Celsius, then the Sweden’s Fridays for Future – then it would not accept the prize money.

At just 16, Thunberg gained fame and recognition for spending her Fridays, not in school, but outside of parliament in Sweden in August 2018. She held up a sign saying, “School strike for climate.”

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Canada May See A Rise In Corporate Activism

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Canada saw a record high of shareholder activism in 2018, and even though the activity has waned a bit in 2019, speakers at the yearly Corporate Secretary Think Tank saw first-time activists numbers are rising. 

Canada saw 78 activist campaigns in 2018, with 57 of them taking place before July. To date, there have been just 28 companies targeted – a marked 40 percent decline in activity.  Some noteworthy scenarios from 2018 include the proxy fights at Crescent Point Energy, Hudbay Minerals and Detour Gold – which investors, who normally would not have been seen as activists, led or set up. 

Kingsdale Advisors CEO Amy Freedman said situational activism is an issue, as anybody can become an activist. She said it’s important people know who are voting their shares and that they understand activists’ nature – be it in the U.S. or overseas. 

Norton Rose Fulbright global chair Walied Soliman agreed, saying people need to take the letters of their shareholders seriously. What is done with those letters determines who is going to become activists. 

Both of them feel issuers need to hold a powerful shareholder engagement strategy to reduce the chance for activism. 

In 2018, there was a significant number of proxy contests regarding board seats; 18 of them going into the proxy meeting. This is nearly double the number in 2017 (10) with eight in 2016 and one in 2015. So far, there have been five contests in 2019. The outlook for settlements was a bit more stationary – 32 for 2017, 34 for 2018 and just 16 up to July 2019.

Soliman said with more shareholders becoming first-time activists or even activists having the backs of traditional shareholders; it’s not as foreseeable if a campaign is going to a yearly meeting. 

According to Freedman, it was the professional authorities’ responsibility to make sure their boards understand what the possible susceptibilities are that could lead to activism in the company. They are, she said, a channel for the board. 

Soliman agreed with Freedman’s statement, saying they and corporate secretaries play a huge role in these situations. He said all campaigns have two parts – a reason for the campaign to take shape. As such, all fights have a moral narrative, which must involve the CEO or governing body in some way. 

Freedom said it’s important for these campaigns to be taken seriously, even if the activists aren’t successful.

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