The Swedish climate activist was arrested amidst a crackdown by the UK government on ‘disruptive’ protests.
Greta Thunberg and four other climate activists are due to appear in court today after being arrested at a protest outside the Energy Intelligence Forum in London last October.
The action was part of Oily Money Out – a series of disruptions against the carbon emissions, political influence and lobbying of the fossil fuel companies and banks attending the conference by the group Fossil Fuel London.
The Swedish climate activist was detained while demonstrating with hundreds of other protesters outside the Energy Intelligence Forum, at the InterContinental London Park Lane hotel in Mayfair.
“Hosting an oil and money conference in the middle of the unfolding climate emergency was obscene and sickening,” says Nicola Harries, lawyer and Extinction Rebellion supporter.
“Our politics has been held hostage by these criminal banks and criminal fossil fuel companies who are holding back the transition we urgently need.
“Why do we allow them to rake in record profits while the world burns, people drown, lose their homes and go hungry? As usual our ‘justice system’ is putting the wrong people in the dock.”
UK cracks down on climate protests
The arrests came after a UK government crackdown on “disruptive” protests which saw the UN Special Rapporteur on environmental defenders criticise these “regressive new laws”.
The five activists including Thunberg were charged with failing to comply with a condition imposed under section 14 of the Public Order Act, mainly for failing to leave the highway and continue the protest on the pavement.
If found guilty, she could be fined up to £2,500 (€2,932).
All five activists pleaded not guilty. Amendments to this legislation were controversially brought in by then-Home Secretary Suella Braverman alongside other measures to expand police powers to deal with the kind of protests favoured by climate activists.
Greta Thunberg has been arrested several times in the last 12 months, the first time in June 2023. In October she was fined by a Swedish court for disobeying police at a climate protest at an oil terminal in Malmo. It was the second time she had been fined in Sweden for a similar offence.
The Swedish climate activist admitted to the facts but denied guilt adding that the fight against the fossil fuel industry was a form of self-defence due to the existential and global threat of the climate crisis.
After the verdict, she said she would continue to protest even if it “leads to more sentences”.