Animal Rebellion activists scale Defra building in London as part of COP26 protest

·3 min read

Watch: Animal Rebellion activists scale Defra building in London

Animal rights activists have scaled a government building in central London and say they plan to stay there "indefinitely".

Demonstrators from Animal Rebellion – which is affiliated to Extinction Rebellion – have climbed up the Defra building as part of a protest ahead of the upcoming COP26 climate summit.

The group says it is demanding an end to subsidies for meat and dairy farming in a protest against climate change. Police and firefighters are at the scene in Westminster.

Read more: Everything you need to know about COP26

They plan to stay in place until Boris Johnson pledges to urge all world leaders to also end such subsidies when they attend COP26 next week.

Activists from Animal Rebellion unfurl a banner after scaling the outside of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in Westminster, central London, calling for the Government to invest in a plant-based future at the upcoming Cop26 conference in Glasgow. Picture date: Tuesday October 26, 2021.
Activists from Animal Rebellion unfurl a banner after scaling the outside of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in Westminster, central London. (PA)
Activists from Animal Rebellion unfurl a banner after scaling the outside of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in Westminster, central London, calling for the Government to invest in a plant-based future at the upcoming Cop26 conference in Glasgow. Picture date: Tuesday October 26, 2021.
Activists from Animal Rebellion unfurl a banner after scaling the outside of the Defra building in Westminster, central London. (PA)
Activists from Animal Rebellion after scaling the outside of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in Westminster, central London, calling for the Government to invest in a plant-based future at the upcoming Cop26 conference in Glasgow. Picture date: Tuesday October 26, 2021.
Activists from Animal Rebellion after scaling the outside of the Defra building in Westminster, central London, on Tuesday. (PA)

The group tweeted an image of its members on the side of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs building on Tuesday morning.

The picture shows four people in orange hard hats and hi-vis jackets using ladders, ropes and harnesses to scale the building.

Animal Rebellion spokesman Nathan McGovern said: “Our protesters climbed the building in the early hours of this morning to send a clear message that we want an end to support for animal agriculture which is killing our planet.

“The four, who are around 10 to 20 metres high, have unveiled a banner saying ‘COP26: Invest in a plant-based future’.

“We will see what the situation with the police is, but the plan is to stay in place indefinitely and this will remain a peaceful protest.”

The group tweeted: "Animal Rebellion protestors have scaled Defra, demanding government support for a plant-based food system at COP26. 

Animal rights activists have scaled the Defra building in London. (Animal Rebellion)
Animal rights activists have scaled the Defra building in Westminster, central London. (Animal Rebellion)

"The protestors have said that they will take action until the government defunds meat and subsidises a plant-based transition.

"Meat and dairy is one of the leading producers of greenhouse gases and causes 90% of Amazon deforestation. 

"World leaders cannot talk about meeting the Paris Climate targets and securing global net zero without addressing that our food system is destroying our planet."

Activists from Animal Rebellion after scaling the outside of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in Westminster, central London, calling for the Government to invest in a plant-based future at the upcoming Cop26 conference in Glasgow. Picture date: Tuesday October 26, 2021.
Activists from Animal Rebellion climbing the Defra bulding in Westminster, central London. (PA)
Activists from Animal Rebellion after scaling the outside of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in Westminster, central London, calling for the Government to invest in a plant-based future at the upcoming Cop26 conference in Glasgow. Picture date: Tuesday October 26, 2021.
Activists from Animal Rebellion try to unfurl a banner on the side of the Defra building in Westminster, central London. (PA)

COP26 begins in Glasgow on Sunday.

The Metropolitan Police said officers are on the scene but there have been no arrests.

It defended itself against accusations that officers were “just standing watching” the protesters at the scene.

In a series of tweets, the force said: “We are working as quickly as possible to remove those who have climbed the building in the safest way.

“Working from height is incredibly complex and can be dangerous. With height, comes risk.

Read more: Insulate Britain glue hands and faces to ground in latest protests

“Our primary concern is the safety of everyone involved, our officers and those protesting.

“Despite some comments, we cannot haphazardly rush in and pull people down. This puts our officers at risk and those at height.

“The claims that officers at the scene ‘just stand watching’ is not a fair reflection of events.”

In a tweet earlier, the force said: "Shortly after 6am we were alerted to a small group of protestors climbing the outside of a government building in Marsham Street to access the roof. 

"Officers are on scene with the London Fire Brigade and are engaging with the protestors. As yet, there have been no arrests."

In August, Animal Rebellion protesters glued themselves to a giant pink table outside a branch of McDonald's in central London.

Watch: Animal Rebellion protesters glue themselves outside McDonald's

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