Climate change protesters, including pensioners, arrested en masse as they seek to change things has become a frequent sight across the country in recent months following the emergence of Extinction Rebellion, but it has a particularly resonant parallel in one corner of Yorkshire.
The Sheffield street trees saga saw OAPs arrested, multiple court cases and extensive use of private security guards as tensions heightened.
The issue was only solved through negotiation which led to the council changing its approach, reinspecting hundreds of threatened trees that could be saved from the axe.
What happened in Sheffield is, of course, on a smaller scale than the Extinction Rebellion protests but there are lessons for the authorities and demonstrators in what occurred in South Yorkshire.
The Sheffield campaign succeeded by focusing on disclosing facts about the felling programme, such as the existence of a contractual target, rather than pushing political agendas. In contrast, some Extinction Rebellion leaders have been open about using public concerns on climate change as a vehicle for ‘bringing down capitalism’ – an aim that undermines their calls for governments to focus on scientific findings in policy-making.
Bringing down the very economic system that has driven British society to a place where peaceful protests are even possible – in stark contrast to images coming out of Hong Kong, recently – is clearly hypocritical.
Extinction Rebellion would be well advised to run on facts, not emotions. Policy, not politics.