Climate change is the biggest single issue facing our planet, and as frustration over the lack of action in tackling its causes reaches boiling point, thousands have taken to city streets around the world.

Swathes of central London have been brought to a halt for a third day as protesters demanding government action have occupied major landmarks and defied police orders to move on.

Almost 300 people have been arrested, 55 bus routes through the capital have been diverted, parts of the Tube system have been disrupted, and an estimated half a million commuters have been affected.

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Extinction Rebellion is the group leading the demonstrations, the same organisation responsible for the naked protest in parliament earlier this month, and which has led recent occupations, protests and marches in 80 cities across 33 countries.

The group has had a significant impact on the public consciousness, and won innumerable celebrity endorsements along the way.

In the UK it has two clear demands: that the government declares a climate emergency, and that it enacts policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.

Protesters in London are now preparing for their third night of defying the authorities, but will they see their success on the streets reflected in policy decisions by those in power?

Ultimately the protests will be fleeting, but the science and ideas behind them are not.

The current frustrations represent a watershed mass public awakening regarding environmental degradation.

These protests marry decades of scientific work with growing anger at governments’ inability to acknowledge that business cannot continue as usual.

Activists only have to point to the UN’s extraordinary report last year calling for “unprecedented changes” to vindicate their efforts.

A UN panel gave world leaders 12 years to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half to avert global environmental catastrophe, and described the next decade as “probably the most important in our history”.

The catastrophic effects of the climate crisis are becoming more visible around the world. From devastating heatwaves across Australia, North America and Europe, to the decimation of coral reefs and rapidly melting sea ice at the poles, global environmental catastrophes are bringing indisputable evidence of humanity’s detrimental impact on the planet.

So it is perhaps a surprise that a mass movement against international governments’ bare-minimum (if that) response to the issue has taken this long to come to fruition.

But that movement has now arrived. And with a vast body of scientific evidence behind it, it’s a powerful force.

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