Climate protesters block bridges, stage rallies around the world

Protesters with Extinction Rebellion blocked bridges and staged protests around the world today as part of a global effort to push for more urgent action on climate change.

135 arrested in London as Extinction Rebellion calls for protests disrupting major cities, including in Canada

Demonstrators block Trafalgar Square in central London, England, on Monday as part of Extinction Rebellion's climate action protests around the world. (Alastair Grant/Associated Press)

Protesters with Extinction Rebellion have blocked bridges and staged protests around the world today as part of a global effort to push for more urgent action on climate change.

Members of the group usually sit or lie down in front of traffic until they are arrested and taken away by police officers. Such a scene played out in cities around the world throughout the day, including in Canada.

Police in London, England, said some 135 climate activists have been arrested as they blocked Victoria Embankment outside the Ministry of Defence.

Demonstrators playing steel drums marched through central London as they kicked off two weeks of activities designed to disrupt the city.

Police arrest an activist in London, where police said some 135 climate activists were arrested. (Alberto Pezzali/Associated Press)

Among those arrested was a blind man who according to police had "obstructed a highway."

"The government just isn't taking the climate crisis as seriously as we believe that it needs to be taken," he said.

Sarah Lasenby, 81, a retired social worker from Oxford, was also arrested.

"It is imperative the government should take serious actions and put pressure on other states and global powers to radically reduce the use of fossil fuels," she said.

Similar climate protests are happening in Berlin, Madrid, Amsterdam and other European cities.

In Canada, protesters blocked bridges in cities Halifax, where arrests were made, TorontoEdmontonKitchener, Ont.Victoria and Vancouver.

Founded in Britain last year, the movement, also known as XR, now has chapters in some 50 countries. The group said the protests Monday were taking place in 60 cities worldwide.

Supporters of the Extinction Rebellion movement block a road at the Potsdamer Platz square in Berlin. (Michael Sohn/Associated Press)

In Berlin, around 1,000 people gathered before dawn to block the Grosser Stern, a traffic circle in the middle of the German capital's Tiergarten park dominated by the landmark Victory Column.

By lunchtime, another 300 people blocked Berlin's central Potsdamer Platz, placing couches, tables, chairs and flowerpots on the road. Police said the protests were peaceful.

In Amsterdam, hundreds of demonstrators blocked a major road outside the Rijksmuseum, one of the city's most popular tourist attractions, and set up tents. The demonstration went ahead despite a city ban on activists gathering on the road. Protesters ignored police calls for them to move to a nearby square.

Dutch police later said they had detained about 90 demonstrators who were blocking a busy Amsterdam street near the Rijksmuseum.

The demonstration has been peaceful, although singing activists linked arms and lay on the ground to hinder police efforts to remove them from the road.

In Spain, a few dozen activists briefly chained themselves to each other and to an elevated road over a major artery in Madrid, snarling traffic during the morning rush hour. Police said 33 activists were taken to their premises and three were arrested for resisting orders by anti-riot officers.

A few hundred other protesters camped out in 40 tents at the gates of Spain's Ministry of Ecological Transition.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff, Helge Braun, criticized Extinction Rebellion's strategies.

"We all share an interest in climate protection, and the Paris climate targets are our standard in this," Braun told ZDF television. "If you demonstrate against or for that, that is OK. But if you announce dangerous interventions in road traffic or things like this, of course that is just not on."

Protesters in New York City doused the famous charging bull statue with fake blood as part of the protest.

"We came down for the Extinction Rebellion protest which is trying to shed light on the fact that governments are seeming to keep their heads in the sand about climate crisis," said Tal Ponany.

"They are not taking responsibility. They are not really talking truthfully to the public. And we are here to support it and get the message out as much as we can."

With files from The Associated Press