Dover, England – Traffic at the cross-channel Port of Dover has been disrupted as activists from the Extinction Rebellion movement, known for its civil disobedience stunts, blocked two roads leading in and out of the port, one of the busiest in Europe.
Dozens of police officers and more than 20 police vehicles were deployed on Saturday to the area of the protest, which was called: “No Food on a Dying Planet.”
At least four activists were arrested while attempting to shut down traffic on the Eastern Docks roundabout by unfurling a large green banner emblazoned with the group’s slogan: “Act now.”
Simultaneously, another small group of protesters glued themselves to the A20 road near the port, blocking the outgoing traffic.
Police had issued an order to confine the protest to a designated area near the port, where attendees enjoyed music, performances and speeches.
The Port of Dover handles 17 percent of the UK’s total trade in goods and sees 12 million passengers a year passing through it.
However, some members of the group defied the ban and left the protest area, walking a few hundred metres to cross the highway and reach the roundabout.
Among them was 91-year-old John Lynas.
“My generation is responsible for the climate emergency,” he told Al Jazeera, holding a cup of tea on a foldable camping chair in the middle of the roundabout.
Minutes later, he was arrested for breaching Section 14 of the Public Order Act.
Another protester was put in a police van parked alongside his mobility scooter by officers visibly at odds with how to deal with the situation.
“The planned protest today has caused minor disruption to traffic flows in and out of the port. Traffic has been free flowing for the majority of the time,” a Port of Dover spokesperson told Al Jazeera.
John Halladay, a 61-year-old human resources manager from nearby Canterbury, was among those arrested on Saturday. He said he joined Extinction Rebellion “out of concern for my grandchildren”.
“We’ve chosen Dover as a symbolic place. We’re going to say, no food is coming through this place today because this is what it is going to look like in a few years’ time when there’s no food at all,” he told Al Jazeera.
“Forty percent of Britain’s food is imported through this port. In the future, we’re going to see massive falls in crop production so that means much less food coming through.”
According to a report published by the Environmental Audit Committee at the houses of the UK Parliament this week, nearly 20 percent of the UK’s fruit and vegetables come from countries threatened by climate breakdown.
The country’s dependency on imported fresh food, coupled with a failure to act meaningfully on the climate crisis are set to put national food security at risk, the report argued.
The blockade came as Extinction Rebellion called for an international mobilisation beginning on October 7, ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit in New York next week.
In 2015, world leaders signed the Paris agreement, setting a goal of limiting rising temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, while pursuing efforts to keep it down to 1.5C.
But activists say that is not enough. The UN scientists recently warned that global carbon emissions should be halved by 2030 to avoid serious impact from climate change.
Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets across the world on Friday in solidarity with the student climate movement.