Stroud Extinction Rebellion (XR) co-founder Gail Bradbrooke has endorsed the actions of nine women from XR and the political party Burning Pink who broke windows at the HSBC headquarters in Canary Wharf this morning.
At 7am on Thursday, the 51st Earth Day, a group chipped at the bank’s windows with chisels before placing stickers on them which read ‘£80 billion into fossil fuels in the last 5 years.’
The women then sat waiting to be arrested, wearing patches with the words ‘better broken windows than broken promises’ in reference to the Suffragettes acts of civil disobedience.
This follows action by Ms Bradbrooke, who was the first XR member to break windows of a bank – Barclays in Stroud – as part of the group’s campaign ‘Money Rebellion’.
“What’s a broken window in the face of the collapse of civilisation?” said Ms Bradbrooke, who was arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage in Stroud in March.
“I think it’s outrageous that it has got to that. I would far better use my time and energy repairing the earth.
“We’re not talking about centuries we’re talking about within our children’s life time, the prediction is that civilisation will collapse,” she added.
“You have to be able to look your children, and your grandchildren and you nieces and nephews in the face and know you’ve done what you could.”
XR said their latest demonstration aimed to highlight the financial sector’s role in the climate and ecological crisis.
HSBC is Europe’s second-largest financier of fossil fuels after Barclays, according to a report rom the Rainforest Action Network.
The report claims HSBC has provided at least £81bn to fossil fuel firms since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2016.
Asked if she had a message for the people of Stroud, Ms Bradbrooke said: “I’m not trying to get on at everybody that they should all be out breaking a window, I’m a relatively privileged person who is able to do that.
“At least stand in solidarity with us and understand that we’re doing this for your children.”
She continued: “I understand that for many people it’s just hard to survive and to cope with life, and the reason for that is the same reason we’re destroying life on earth, we’re overdrawn as people, we’re overdrawn as a planet.
“Everybody is under stress because the political and economic system that we have is designed to create growth and profit and concentrate wealth in the hands of very few people, and those people commit way bigger carbon emissions than the rest of us.”
A spokesperson for HSBC said they welcome meaningful dialogue on climate strategy, but they cannot condone vandalism or actions that “put people and property at risk.”
“We have an ambition to be net-zero by 2030 and to bring our financed emissions to net-zero by 2050.
“We have also committed to set out short and medium-term transition targets, and to phase out the financing of coal-fired power and thermal coal mining by 2040 globally. We remain committed to supporting our customers in their transition to net-zero.”