Changing World News

Heiner S, 30, editor at a think tank from North London

Heiner was arrested on Waterloo Bridge on Easter Sunday 2019 and charged under Section 14 of the Public Order Act. He pleaded guilty at City of London Magistrates’ Court on Friday November 8th 2019 and was given a six month conditional discharge and £105 court costs.

“I’m a white man in a stable job with a powerful passport. I’m so insanely lucky, that this has to be my way to speak out. I don’t understand how people are not getting active. People are literally dying because of this crisis.”

Heiner’s Court Statement

“The Climate Emergency is here. It is not happening tomorrow, it is not happening in a week’s time, it is not happening in a month’s time; it’s here right now.

Each summer we hear how this summer is one of the hottest summers we’ve experienced on the measurement scales here in the UK. The ice caps are melting faster than we were ever thinking they would, and there were massive wildfires in the Arctic earlier this year. But worse things are yet to come.

At 1.5 degree of global warming by 2100, the majority of the coral reefs will have perished. If we have 2 degrees of global warming, all the coral reefs will have perished and bleached by that time. Coral reefs are crucial for nearly all marine life, so they are very important for fish supplies, which again provides nutrition that a lot of people all over the world rely on.

The climate crisis is felt mostly by those who did not cause it, and those who caused it mostly do not feel the effects of it. I used to live and work in Bangladesh and I stood at the Bay of Bengal, at the edge of the Sunderbans. They are one of the last large mangrove forests that protect Bangladesh from annual flooding caused by increasingly bad storms in the Bay of Bengal.

The Sunderdbans are being reduced every year by rising sea levels. That causes salination in the Sunderbans, resulting in them continuously retreating, exposing 160 million people in Bangladesh, including many of my friends, to very dangerous floods that might potentially be lethal, or certainly will destroy livelihoods.

“I believe it is my utmost duty to leverage my privilege and make people aware of the incredible dangers that the climate crisis causes”.

We in this court room, we in this city, we in this country, we are the ones who caused the climate crisis. All of us, and I myself as well. But people, who will suffer from it are people in the “Global South”, predominantly people of colour, predominantly women, predominantly people with a disability, and any other marginalised group on this planet that is unable to protect themselves from the massive damage the climate crisis will cause.

I am extremely privileged to stand here today to address the court. I am white. I am a man. I have no disability I know of. I have a very powerful passport that protects me from all kinds of negative impacts of the climate crisis.

Yet I am an immigrant in this country because I have German citizenship. And I have felt already that the proceedings that followed my arrest have increased my stress level because my pre-settled status has been put on hold as a consequence of having been arrested. Yet I still believe it is my utmost duty to leverage my privilege and make people aware of the incredible dangers that the climate crisis causes to people that we don’t see every day on the streets.

And that is why I felt I needed to stand up because other people would not be able to – either because they live in a country that hardly causes any kind of emissions – or certainly not the kind of emissions we cause in the United Kingdom. Second, because they might live in a country where the political freedom to protest and express their opinion might be curtailed. And thirdly because they spend each and every day trying to get food on the table for their children so that they survive rather than protesting the climate crisis.

Since I am able and privileged to do so I felt urged to use my privilege to that end, and that is why I felt compelled to not comply with the order of the police at the time.”

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