April 30, 2019 / 3:27 PM / 25 days ago

Climate-change activists disappointed after meeting with British environment minister

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Michael Gove is seen outside the Cabinet Office, as uncertainty over Brexit continues, in London, Britain April 12, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

LONDON (Reuters) - British climate-change activists said a meeting with the environment minister Michael Gove was disappointing because he failed to declare a climate emergency after weeks of protests put the issue at the heart of political debate.

Members of the Extinction Rebellion group met with Gove after orchestrating the biggest civil disobedience protests in Britain in decades by blocking some of London’s most iconic locations including Marble Arch and Oxford Circus.

“The fact that Michael Gove cannot even commit to declaring a climate and ecological emergency at the moment is not only a political failure, we believe that’s a moral failure on behalf of our politicians,” said Sam Knights, a 22-year-old Extinction Rebellion activist after the meeting.

Extinction Rebellion is demanding the government declare a climate emergency and to allocate resources to tackling the issue. They want greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced to net zero by 2025 and create a citizen’s assembly of members of the public to lead on decisions to address climate change.

Gove said climate change is a “grave” challenge, but stopped short of calling it a climate emergency.

“Politicians should be judged on actions not words,” he said. “We should show that we’re making a difference rather than simply telling everyone how important it is to change.”

Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; editing by Guy Faulconbridge

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