Scientist Emma Smart on hunger strike after being denied bail


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A scientist who was arrested for sounding the alarm over climate change went on hunger strike last night after being denied bail by police. She also refuses water. Emma Smart, an environmentalist, was arrested on Wednesday 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 pending 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 was charged with criminal damage after sticking scientific papers on the government building and sticking herself to the glass facade. Their protests are part of the April Rebellion that calls for an immediate end to all new fossil fuel investment.

Emma was also one of the Highway 9s who spent time in jail over Christmas for breaching an injunction with Insulate Britain. She said during her trial last year: “This court may consider me to be on the wrong side of the law, but in my heart I know I’m on the right side of history. I won’t be a bystander. His determination and courage in the face of the horrors of the climate crisis and the inaction of our leaders is an inspiration to us all and we send our love and strength to him at this time.

Emma’s husband Andy Smith said: “What kind of world do we live in when scientists are forced into positions of arrest and hunger strike to be heard? And why was she not released? It was a minor crime without disturbing the public. His treatment is disproportionate to his crime.

Our politicians are aware of the gravity of the climate emergency, every decision must be informed by science, not constrained by profit and greed. Emma knows what’s at stake if we don’t stop investing in fossil fuels and she’s taking a stand for the future of her nieces and everyone around the world currently suffering from this crisis. Everyone needs to stand by him now and take to the streets to show the government that change is coming whether they like it or not.

Pete Knapp, air quality specialist from Scientists for XR, said: “The fact that Emma is being held longer than the usual 24 hours shows that the UK government is indeed at war with climate science. They would rather lock up and silence the experts who are sounding the alarm than do their duty and to protect the public from catastrophic climate change. The science is absolutely clear: We must not drill for new oil and gas. Instead, we must transition to clean energy as quickly as possible. But our government only said last week that it would allow further exploration for fossil fuels despite repeated and dire warnings from scientists that it would lead to disaster.This is the gross dereliction of duty that Emma denounces, and they lock him up for that.

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 falsely claiming to be a climate leader. In 2013, Prime Minister David Cameron ordered government departments to “reduce green crap”, which resulted in the blocking of cheap wind and solar onshore power, the reduction of energy efficiency funding and the scrapping a program to make all new homes carbon neutral. The British public is paying millions more on heating bills as a result. In addition, the government has not put in place policies to meet its own legally binding climate targets, according to its own climate advisers, the Committee on Climate Change.
  3. In May 2021, the International Energy Agency (IEA), the expert advisory body to rich countries on energy policy, released a report stating that, to be consistent with 1.5˚C, there should be “from today, no investment in new fossil fuel supply projects”. If the United Kingdom, while remaining chair of the UN climate process and while claiming to be an “international leader on climate change”, accelerates fossil production, the signal it sends will be followed by others and it is inevitable that the 1.5°C limit will be violated.
  4. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in response to the latest IPCC report published last Monday: “This report is a litany of broken climate promises. It is a record of shame, listing the empty pledges that set us firmly on the path to an unlivable world. Some government leaders and business leaders say one thing, but do another. In other words, they lie. And the results will be catastrophic.


The time is almost entirely up to deal with the ecological crisis that is upon us, including the 6th mass extinction of species, global pollution and accelerating climate change. Unless urgent and drastic action is taken, we are heading for 4˚C warming, and the societal collapse and massive loss of life that this entails. The younger generation, racially marginalized communities and countries of the South are on the front line. No one will escape the devastating impacts.

Extinction Rebellion believes it is the duty of a citizen to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, in the face of criminal inactivity by their government.

The main demands of Extinction Rebellion are:

  1. The government must speak the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
  2. The 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 urgency? | Extinction Rebellion in Numbers | This is not an exercise: an Extinction Rebellion manual

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