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Climate activist Greta Thunberg goes on trial in London

By AFP - Feb 01,2024 - Last updated at Feb 01,2024

Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg (centre) leaves Westminster Magistrates Court in London on Thursday, on the first day of hers and four other activists’ public order office trial (AFP photo)

LONDON — Environmental activist Greta Thunberg will appear in a London court on Thursday charged with public order offences linked to a demonstration against the energy industry.

The 21-year-old Swedish activist is expected to appear at around 10:00am (10:00 GMT) for the opening of her two-day trial.

A global figure in the fight against climate change, Thunberg pleaded not guilty to the charges at an initial hearing in November, as did four other activists who appeared with her.

Thunberg, who faces a maximum fine of £2,500 ($3,177), was taken away by two police officers and put into the back of a van outside the Energy Intelligence Forum, after she joined a mass protest.

She was one of dozens activists arrested for disrupting access to the conference, which brought together major oil and gas companies at a luxury hotel in the British capital on October 17.

Demonstrators greeted the forum participants with cries of “Shame on you!” while carrying placards reading “Stop Rosebank”, a reference to a controversial new North Sea oil field that the government authorised in September.

London police arrested Thunberg for failing to adhere to an order not to block the street where the rally was taking place.

Released on bail, she then took part in another demonstration in front of the five-star hotel the next day, along with hundreds of other people.

The Conservative government in London’s reversals on pledges to combat climate change have angered campaigners.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has postponed a ban on the sale of combustion engine cars, and announced plans to grant new North Sea oil and gas licences as the country battles with an inflation-fuelled cost-of-living crisis.

On Monday, the UK’s independent advisory body on climate strategy expressed concern that the government was sending out “mixed messages” that were tarnishing its international influence on the issue.

Thunberg, who gained worldwide notoriety as a 15-year-old by staging school strikes in her native Sweden, regularly takes part in such demonstrations.

She was fined in October for blocking the port of Malmo in Sweden, a few months after being forcibly removed by police during a demonstration against the use of coal in Germany.

She also joined a march last weekend in southern England to protest against the expansion of Farnborough airport, which is mainly used by private jets. 

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