'Code red' - not greenwash

Protesters against 'greenwash' arrested during day nine of the Extinction Rebellion September 2021 'impossible' demonstrations in London.

Protestors with Extinction Rebellion demand UK Government come clean on the climate emergency.

I take action with XR because I am desperately worried about my children’s future.

Hundreds of Extinction Rebellion protestors are gathering in Parliament Square today at 12 noon to accuse the government of greenwash and hypocrisy and to alert the public to the UK Government’s failure to tell the truth about the climate crisis.

The campaigners will listen as speakers in Parliament Square "expose the hypocrisy of the government’s greenwashing policies and its shocking level of inaction on the climate crisis" and then march along Whitehall to Downing Street.

The procession will move on to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, calling on the government to stop all new fossil fuel investment, and to come clean on the crisis facing humanity.


The protestors will be accompanied by a giant box of greenwashing powder, a human washing line of green T Shirts spelling out “greenwash” and “hypocrisy”, and a samba band, whilst carrying flags and banners emblazoned with "stop the greenwash now" and "no future in fossil fuels".

Joanna Gill, a 49 year-old teacher from Oxford, will join the action. She said: “It’s clear from the extreme weather we’re seeing all over the world that the climate crisis is already here and will only get worse.

“Our government is saying the right things but at the same time pursuing policies that will make our target of reaching net zero completely impossible. I want the government to be honest with us about the severity of the crisis and the speed and scale of action needed to avoid the worst effects.”

Campaigners point to the perceived hypocrisy of ministers, such as Business and Energy Minister, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who said “we need to urgently end our reliance on fossil fuels” while at the same time being part of a government which issues new licences for oil and gas extraction in the North Sea and refuses to block the development of the huge Cambo oil and gas field near Shetland.

I take action with XR because I am desperately worried about my children’s future.

This is just one of many examples of apparent greenwash and hypocrisy. The government’s stance also goes against the advice of the International Energy Agency, which, in a landmark report released in May 2021, stated that in order to reach net zero by 2050, countries must halt all investment in new fossil fuel supply projects, and green-light no new coal plants.

Code red

Lisa Hill, 57, a retired school business leader from Newbury, Berkshire, said: “I take action with XR because I am desperately worried about my children’s future.

"Governments and organisations around the world say they are tackling the climate crisis but little has changed and they continue – unbelievably – to use and invest in fossil fuels. It’s crucial that the public knows about this inaction and that’s why I am here with XR today.”

Further examples of the UK government’s greenwash and hypocrisy are the Prime Minister’s promise to end UK taxpayer support for fossil fuel projects overseas, while investing £750,000,000 in a huge gas export terminal in Mozambique, fuelling regional conflict as well as adding to global heating.

Tara Roberts , a 22 year-old student from Fife, in Scotland, has come to join Extinction Rebellion’s two weeks of action in London. She said: “Greenwashing won’t save us. In fact, it might be the thing that kills us. Because in the current situation with the climate, making people believe everything is all OK and under control is extremely dangerous.”

The latest report from the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, confirms that climate change is widespread, rapid, and intensifying, and the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the Panel’s findings “nothing less than a code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable".


In November this year, the UK Government will host the COP26, the UN conference on Climate Change, regarded as the most crucial meeting ever, if the world is avoid the catastrophic effects of global heating.

The risk of heating above 1.5 degrees over pre-industrial levels, is that extreme weather – raging wildfires, disastrous flooding, warming oceans and increasing drought – will threaten food supplies, fuel conflict, lead to mass migration and threaten humanity itself with societal breakdown.

A spokesperson for XR added: "We are in the last chance saloon. Governments and corporations are playing poker with the future of humanity. This is why Extinction Rebellion is out on the streets.

"XR is highlighting the ecocidal activities of corporations and public bodies, and urging all citizens to demand that our government stops the lies and greenwash, and takes the actions on the climate and ecological emergency that are needed to protect us all."

This Author

Brendan Montague is editor of The Ecologist. This article is based on a press release from Extinction Rebellion.

More from this author