Four of the ‘Bathtub 16’ rebels in court for Summer Uprising action

On Wednesday 4th September, four rebels from the Bathtub 16 who were locked on to the pink bathtub during the Summer Uprising went to court.

The group of four previously all pleaded not guilty on the grounds that they were proportionately exercising freedom of expression in a public space. The case went on for longer than expected, meaning the judge did not have time to make a decision that day. Therefore they’ll return to court on 18th September for the verdict.

One of the members of the group, Dr Christelle Blunden, made the following statement:

“On July 17th I was arrested for locking myself to a bathtub in Cabot Circus, Bristol, as part of Extinction Rebellion’s call to sound the alarm on the climate emergency.

As a doctor, and a mother, I take no pleasure whatsoever in having disrupted people trying to earn a living, get to hospital appointments or delaying those with young children. I do not feel at all good that you may have been affected by the disruption. Nor did I relish lying in a cell wondering if I could get a prison sentence. Now I simply want to explain why I did what I did without expecting everyone to agree with me or like what happened.

For over 30 years scientists and activists have raised the alarm over climate breakdown in the usual ways; writing reports, undertaking non-disruptive protest and holding endless summits. But no one has listened, during these 30 years carbon emissions have continued to rise.

The American Academy of Sciences report a 5% chance that humanity could go extinct by 2100 if our emission trends continue. The risks are that dire. David Attenborough’s latest documentary challenges us to halve global emissions by 2030 or face the devastating consequences of mass migration, global food shortages and economic instability, all of which will affect the UK gravely.

However Sir David’s warning is conservative. We don’t really know how rapidly our situation will spiral downwards when global temperatures hit tipping points over 1.5 degrees, which is now almost inevitable. That is why Extinction Rebellion are asking for net zero carbon by 2025 not 2050. We need an emergency plan to turn our situation around as quickly as possible. What we decide to do in the next year is critical.

The task ahead of us is massive and facts alone don’t seem to affect attitudes. I don’t know what actions are left to immediately alert the public and alter political discourse, other than the one thing that has brought about radical and positive lasting change throughout history when dialogue has failed – non violent direct action.

And although I’d far rather chain myself to a tree than block a road, that would not work. Our disruptive actions are designed to send a message to the government that we cannot continue business as usual. Hundreds of thousands of people will die annually due to climate change and that is a worse outcome than being stuck in traffic. The government have listened to Extinction Rebellion and the youth strikes by declaring a climate emergency, committing to net zero carbon by 2050 and starting to form a citizens assembly on climate policy. If they bring forward the target date, and empower the citizens assembly to take decisions having heard from experts in energy, ecology and economics, then we would be relieved to stop the disruptive action immediately.

We understand that some people will be alienated by our actions, and we are taking on board public feedback in planning future actions to try to balance disruption and impact. We respect the police and the courts and look forward to the date when their time is better spent enforcing new laws that protect against our collective crime – ecocide.

The rest of the Bathtub 16 will go to court on Monday 9th and Tuesday 10th September, and this group will return for their verdict on 18th September, so please head to the Bristol Magistrates Court on those dates to show your rebellious support!