View from the street: 'Code red for humanity'

Nelly the elephant

Nelly the elephant was arrested after appearing at a HS2 roadshow - Credit: Dorothea Hackman

With the report out from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warning us that it is now “code red for humanity” in terms of the inevitable flood, fire, famine and drought as the temperature will rise above the 1.5 degree increase by 2030, and our hearts are breaking for the billion children worldwide at extremely high risk from climate and pollution.

Although they may have declared climate emergencies, I have not seen any countermeasures taken by our governments and financiers to stop funding fossil fuel, to retrofit our housing with heat pumps and insulation instead of demolishing buildings, and to cancel the infrastructure projects that are exacerbating carbon emissions like High Speed 2 (HS2), the new Edmonton Incinerator, the Silvertown Tunnel, Heathrow, Hinckley and more. We have an overcapacity of incinerators already, and burning plastic in them to satisfy contractual obligations is insane.

Dorothea Hackman

Dorothea Hackman says Nelly the elephant represents the white elephant of HS2 - Credit: Dorothea Hackman

Extinction Rebellion has taken to the streets again to make the public and governments look at this appalling situation, to get the media coverage that will publicise the immediacy of the emergency, and look how the police spend their time. They are following Home Office orders, but was it necessary to arrest a pantomime Nelly the Elephant? 

Nelly the Elephant has done sterling service in her various incarnations since 2017 - HS2 representing the ruinous white elephant we simply can’t afford, with rolling stock the cost is now over £200billion. The national debt cannot afford this increase, and our children and grandchildren cannot afford the repayments.

So Nelly, after a triumphant appearance at Kings Cross station earlier this month for the HS2 roadshow - do join her in Uxbridge on September 2 and Ealing on 21 - was due to appear with the Stop the Harm March from Hyde Park on Thursday, but was arrested by the police!

Initially the police told the keepers in attendance that she was unattended, but even they gave up on that illogical assertion, and instead said she was being arrested as a lock on - a heavy item people attach themselves to during protests. Nelly is extremely light, consisting of an old duvet and bamboo frame, so no way could she be a lock on, but they took her anyway and the parade left without her.

The happy ending is that after a vigorous social media “free Nelly” campaign, she was returned and was able to join local communities at Finsbury Park on Sunday for the Carnival for Climate Justice.