Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg is on trial in London this week for allegedly refusing to comply with police orders at a protest in 2023. According to prosecutors who appeared at the Westminster magistrates court on Thursday, Thunberg and four other protesters “fail[ed] to comply with a condition imposed under section 14 of the Public Order Act” when they refused to stop protesting after law enforcement told them to do so during the event last year. The protests, which had been organized by Fossil Free London and Greenpeace, targeted the Energy Intelligence Forum (EIF) at which fossil fuel industry executives met with government ministers to hand out awards. Thunberg and the other protesters had been standing outside the entrance of the InterContinental hotel in Mayfair prior to the arrest and refused when police officers demanded they move.
A police officer testified, “It seemed like a very deliberate attempt … to prevent access to the hotel for most delegates and the guests. People were really restricted from having access to the hotel.” If Thunberg and the other protesters are convicted, they could receive fines of up to 2,500 pounds (approximately $3,170), according to ABC News.
The arrests may not have happened if not for the recent policy by Suella Braverman, then the United Kingdom’s Home Secretary, to lower the threshold in which when police can arrest protesters by arguing that it can be justified for any “more than minor” disruption. This is consistent with a larger public trend of government officials attempting to stifle climate change-related dissent. “Climate activism is a threat to the fossil fuel status quo, so it makes sense that corporate polluters and their allies in government are striking back hard,” Folabi Olagbaju, the democracy campaign director at Greenpeace USA, told Salon in an recent interview.