Extinction Rebellion (XR) has claimed its blockade of News UK’s print sites was “worth” the damage caused to independent shops and refused to rule out a repeat of the action.
In an exclusive interview with betterRetailing, an official spokesperson for the protest group was asked whether the group had considered the impact on small shops before taking the action.
They responded: “If we look at the proportionality of the situation, then I think people will make a judgement that it is worth that, though it is regrettable.”
The comments come after newsagents across the UK were left with empty newsstands on Saturday 5 September after the climate group blocked News UK’s print sites across the country in Hertfordshire, Merseyside and North Lanarkashire.
As a result, some stores reported losing as much as 50% of their total trade during their peak Saturday morning hours.
Asked to respond to the damage done, the XR spokesperson, who requested anonymity, added: “Given that we’re looking at civilisational collapse and a rise in 4°C without government action, we judged that it was worth doing that.”
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: News UK printing boss explains impact of Extinction Rebellion protest
Challenged again on what it would say to those worst affected, XR said: “I urge them to do some research on the climate crisis and I hope they understand why we care so deeply about something that is obviously going to completely undermine their business if it’s not dealt with.”
The spokesperson said the protest was “to highlight the fact that there is a massive blockage in communication, there are people who aren’t being given the information about what their futures will look like unless radical action is taken”.
They claimed this was because the “majority of [the UK press] is owned by five billionaires”.
Asked why, like the New European, it did not start its own title through the newsstand to improve media plurality, the spokesperson said: “You can’t start a newspaper and have equal power… It’s comical to suggest that, really.”
Despite retailer efforts to cut waste and plastic usage, the spokesperson said stores should instead focus on “campaigning for the government to take action, because if they don’t, it doesn’t matter how much plastic we save, we’re looking at an inability to grow food”.
The spokesperson added: “Retailers should be hugely concerned. I don’t think anyone’s jobs have a future unless we tackle this.
“Figures such as David Attenborough have said if we carry on the course we’re on now, we’re looking at civilisational collapse within the century.”
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