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Activism

A climate change protest has been cancelled because of climate change

Activists in East Sussex have called off a climate protest because of safety fears amid the heatwave. The irony is not lost on them.

Climate change activists have had to cancel a protest because of safety fears amid the heatwave.

Divest East Sussex had planned a vigil outside East Sussex County Hall, in Lewes, on Monday and Tuesday in a bid to get the council to stop investing in fossil fuels.

But the group has had to put it off because of fears over their safety – due to the extreme heat.

“Everybody agrees that this sort of heatwave has been made many many times more likely by climate change. We’ve taken this decision because of the extremity of the situation,” said Gabriel Carlyle, an organiser of the protest.

“It’s not lost on anybody, but as the organiser of something you feel responsible for what other people might do.”

The Met Office has issued its first ever red warning for extreme heat – with temperatures of 40°C forecast in the UK.

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Lewes is covered by an amber warning – with temperatures forecast to peak at 37C on Tuesday.

The current heatwave is a sign of things to come, Carlyle said, adding: “We’re in the foothills of where we’re going to go unless we rapidly get off our current trajectory.”

With the council due to vote on Wednesday over whether to stop investing pensions in fossil fuels, the protesters had planned to stage a vigil while fasting.

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However a combination of factors – a lack of cover, a high number of elderly participants, and the risks of travelling on public transport – led to a decision to call it off until Wednesday.

Other groups, including local Extinction Rebellion branches, will be taking part on Tuesday, but Divest East Sussex will only be back on Wednesday, when the air cools.

“As soon as the temperatures drop, we’re going to be back for the vote itself, which is going to be taking place on Wednesday,” Carlyle said.

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“We’ll be there from 8am and then we’ll be going into the meeting.

“The campaign is in its ninth year, so we know that this is a marathon not a sprint. The fact we’ve decided not to go doesn’t mean we’ve given up.”

The Big Issue has contacted East Sussex County Council for comment.

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