Scientist Emma Smart on hunger strike after being refused bail - Extinction Rebellion UK

Scientist Emma Smart on hunger strike after being refused bail

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A scientist who was arrested for raising the alarm on climate change went on hunger strike yesterday evening after being denied bail by police. She is also refusing water. Emma Smart, an ecologist, was detained yesterday during a protest with 24 fellow scientists at the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in London on Wednesday. Instead of being released on bail she is being held at Charing Cross Police Station waiting for a court hearing on Saturday.

At 10am this morning there will be a vigil outside Charing Cross Police Station to show support.

Along with eight other scientists, Emma has been charged with criminal damage after pasting scientific papers to the Government building and gluing themselves to the glass frontage. Their protests form part of the April Rebellion which is calling for an end to all new fossil fuel investments immediately.

Emma was also one of the Highway 9 who spent time in prison over Christmas for breaking an injunction with Insulate Britain. She said during her trial last year: “This court may see me as being on the wrong side of the law, but in my heart I know I am on the right side of history. I will not be a bystander.” Her determination and courage in the face of the horrors of the climate crisis and the inaction of our leaders is an inspiration to all of us and we send our love and strength to her at this time.

Emma’s husband, Andy Smith, said: “What kind of world do we live in when scientists are forced to put themselves into positions of arrest and hunger strike to be heard? And why has she not been released? This was a minor crime with no disruption to the public. Her treatment is disproportionate to her crime.

Our politicians are aware of the severity of the climate emergency, every decision should be informed by science, not coerced for profit and greed. Emma knows what’s at stake if we don’t stop fossil fuel investments and she is taking a stand for her nieces future and all those around the world suffering now from this crisis. Everyone must stand with her now and come out on the streets to show the government that change is coming whether they like it or not.”

Air quality scientist Pete Knapp from Scientists for XR said: “The fact that Emma is being held beyond the usual 24 hours shows that the UK Government is effectively at war with climate science. They would rather lock up and silence experts sounding the alarm than do their duty and protect the public from catastrophic climate change. The science is totally clear: we must not drill for new oil and gas. Instead we must move to clean energy as quickly as possible. But our Government only last week declared it will licence new fossil fuel exploration in spite of repeated and dire warnings from scientists that this will lead to disaster. This is the flagrant dereliction of duty that Emma is calling out, and they are locking her up for it.”

Notes for editors:

  1. Coverage of the Scientists for Extinction Rebellion action at BEIS on Wednesday where the 9 scientists were arrested.
  2. The UK Government has repeatedly dragged its feet on climate change, while claiming falsely to be a climate leader. In 2013 Prime Minister David Cameron ordered Government departments to “cut the green crap” resulting in the blocking of cheap onshore wind energy and solar, cutting energy efficiency funding and scrapping a programme to make all new homes carbon neutral. The UK public pays millions more on heating bills as a result. Furthermore the Government does not have policies in place to meet its own legally binding climate targets according to its own climate advisors the Climate Change Committee.
  3. In May 2021, The International Energy Agency (IEA), the expert advisory body to rich nations on energy policy, issued a report stating that for consistency with 1.5˚C there should be “from today, no investment in new fossil fuel supply projects”. If the UK, while still President of the UN climate process and while claiming to be an “international leader on climate change” ramps up fossil production, the signal it sends will be followed by others and it is inevitable the 1.5˚C limit will be breached.
  4. The Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres said in response to the latest IPCC report released last Monday: “This report is a litany of broken climate promises. It is a file of shame, cataloguing the empty pledges that put us firmly on track towards an unlivable world. Some government and business leaders are saying one thing – but doing another. Simply put, they are lying. And the results will be catastrophic.”


Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and increasingly rapid climate change. If urgent and radical action isn’t taken, we’re heading towards 4˚C warming, and the societal collapse and mass loss of life that that implies. The younger generation, racially marginalised communities and the Global South are on the front-line. No-one will escape the devastating impacts.

Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.

Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:

  1. Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
  2. Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
  3. Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

What Emergency? | Extinction Rebellion in Numbers |This Is Not A Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook 

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