Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 15 November 2019

Extinction Rebellion protester climbs London's Big Ben clock tower

The man was dressed up in a blonde wig and costume resembling British Prime Minister Boris Johnson

A climate activist dressed as Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures after climbing scaffolding and unfurling banners on the Elizabeth Tower, commonly known by the name of the bell, Big Ben on the twelfth day of demonstrations by the climate change action group Extinction Rebellion, in London, on October 18, 2019. AFP / Tolga AKMEN
A climate activist dressed as Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures after climbing scaffolding and unfurling banners on the Elizabeth Tower, commonly known by the name of the bell, Big Ben on the twelfth day of demonstrations by the climate change action group Extinction Rebellion, in London, on October 18, 2019. AFP / Tolga AKMEN

A protester from the environmental group Extinction Rebellion climbed up to the top of London's famous Big Ben clock on its Houses of Parliament on Friday.

The man, who was dressed up in a blonde wig and costume resembling British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, has been named as 43-year-old tree surgeon Ben Atkinson.

He is said to be attempting the "free solo climb" the Queen Elizabeth Tower to "highlight government inaction on the climate and ecological emergency".

Extinction Rebellion group demand that governments globally "tell the truth" by declaring a climate and ecological emergency.

Crowds gathered below to watch Mr Atkinson's daring stunt, while the activist unveiled a rainbow-coloured flag with the Extinction Rebllion "hourglass" logo.

Police were shouting at Mr Atkinson, to try and get him down from the historic building.

Writing on Facebook after scaling the scaffolding on the tower, Mr Atkinson said: "We got the declaration of climate emergency last time. Now perhaps, please Boris, you're struggling to navigate Brexit let alone work our way out of the sixth mass extinction event. Please. Pretty please.... let's get on with the citizens assembly. Thanks Boris."

He added: "I know somewhere in there you have compassionate feelings towards something other then your career.

"You've got Premiership. Now you've got a chance to do something that could last for centuries. A legacy of being the man that turned it all around. Dare you. Oh, and thanks Greta. I heard you calling."

Earlier on Friday Extinction Rebellion protesters blocked a crossroads on London’s busy shopping district, a day after the environmental group were criticised for disrupting the UK capital’s underground rail system.

Climate activists set up a wooden pyramid structure in Oxford Circus in the middle of a junction, preventing traffic including buses from passing through.

Police had cleared the protesters on the structure using a cherry picker within about an hour of the demonstration beginning.

A spokesman for Extinction Rebellion said: "It's not about causing meaningless disruption. We have a vital message to bring - the consequences of the climate and ecological crisis are horrific."

Police use heavy machinery as they remove a climate activist perched on a makeshift structure in Oxford Street. AFP
Police use heavy machinery as they remove a climate activist perched on a makeshift structure in Oxford Street. AFP

On Thursday, activists from the group climbed on top of tube trains during rush hour, while others glued their hands to trains.

The underground action drew a rebuke from London’s mayor Sadiq Khan, who had previously spoken out about the enforcement of a city-wide ban on Extinction Rebellion demonstrations issued by police earlier this week.

More than 1,400 protesters had been arrested before police banned the group from Trafalgar Square on Monday. Previously, protesters had been warned by authorities to demonstrate only in the square or face arrest.

The group had planned to stage two weeks of protests, which began on October 7, as part of an “international rebellion”.

Updated: October 18, 2019 07:59 PM

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