Moment environmentalist George Monbiot breaks down in tears on GMB as he spoke of about how climate change will affect his children – after nine Insulate Britain activists were jailed
The 58-year-old Guardian columnist told ITV‘s Good Morning Britain that he understood the ‘law-breaking’ actions of the protest group, but said they are ‘desperately’ trying to warn people that the ‘click is ticking’.
An emotional Mr Monbiot said: ‘Time is running out on the greatest crisis that we’ve ever faced.
‘It’s almost unimaginable what we’re facing now, and it’s very hard to talk about it without crying because it’s the end of everything, the end of our hopes, our dreams, our ambitions, our loves, our hates, everything we’ve dreamt of for our children, the good world we want for them, that could go.
‘If global systems reach a tipping point the planet will flip from a habitable state to an uninhabitable state.’
He went on to defend the Insulate Britain protesters and their actions for ‘frantically’ trying to get the message to ‘sink in’.
He said: ‘I have two children and every day, I think “Did I do the right thing?”‘ – before starting to cry.
Environmental campaigner George Monbiot bursts into tears on Good Morning Britain today
The 58-year-old writer said: ‘I have two children and every day, I think ‘Did I do the right thing?’
Six of the nine Insulate Britain activists at the High Court in London for sentencing yesterday
The show’s presenter Ben Shephard said the subject was ‘clearly very emotional for George and he’s thinking about his family’ as the camera cut away from Mr Monbiot.
He was speaking about climate change one day after the Insulate Britain protesters were sent to jail for breaching injunctions designed to prevent disruptive blockades.
Husband of Insulate Britain hunger striker ‘terrified’ but supports her decision
The husband of an Insulate Britain protester who has gone on hunger strike in prison says he is ‘terrified’ for her but supports her choice.
Andy Smith, 45, said he and his wife Emma Smart, a scientist, discussed her stopping eating if she was jailed by the High Court for breaching an injunction.
Smart, 44, was handed a four-month prison sentence yesterday.
Emma Smart and her husband Andy Smith
Mr Smith, who volunteers as a climate activist full time but has not taken part in any protests with Insulate Britain, said: ‘She is incredibly resolute in her actions. I stand by her in all the decisions she makes. Morally they are in the right in this instance and she really stands by her convictions.
‘She’s an incredibly passionate person who has spent her whole entire adult life trying to save wildlife and protect the environment. That’s deeply ingrained in who she is.
‘That freedom to go out on to the street and protest has been taken away from her, so her going on a hunger strike in prison is another way to continue that process. All nine of them in court today were pretty resolute that you can sentence them, but this isn’t going to resolve the problem and people will still continue to protest.
‘Obviously I’m terrified. It’s a horrible thing for her to go through but I stand by her decision to do that.’
Mr Smith said he was aware that Smart would be going on a hunger strike if she was put behind bars. ‘It’s something we discuss quite frequently, the different ways we can make sacrifices to highlight injustices,’ he said.
Mr Monbiot had been asked by host Susanna Reid: ‘What needs to change to make everybody else feel what you’re feeling, and not think isn’t that an overreaction?’
He replied: ‘I have two children and every day, I think “Did I do the right thing?'”‘. Mr Monbiot, speaking from his Oxford home, then burst into tears and wiped his face.
Mr Shephard stepped in to say: ‘Dawn, clearly very emotional for George and he’s thinking about his family.’ The camera then cut to contributor Dawn Neesom.
Former Daily Star editor Ms Neesom said: ‘I’m as green as you can get, I’ve got bikes in the background here and I don’t even own a car.
‘However [Insulate Britain] doesn’t seem to be helping the cause. And, to be a true martyr, which is what they are saying they are, surely you have to be promoting your cause.’
Insulate Britain began a wave of protests in September and has blocked the M25, other roads in London including around Parliament, roads in Birmingham and Manchester, and around the Port of Dover in Kent.
Yesterday, nine supporters of the group were jailed at the High Court in London after they admitted breaching the injunction by taking part in a blockade at junction 25 of the M25 on October 8.
Ana Heyatawin, 58, and Louis McKechnie, 20, were jailed for three months, while Ben Buse, 36, Roman Paluch-Machnik, 28, Oliver Rock, 41, Emma Smart, 44, Tim Speers, 36, and James Thomas, 47, all received four-month sentences.
The submissions made by Ben Taylor, 37, to the court on Tuesday were described by Dame Victoria Sharp as ‘inflammatory’ and a ‘call to arms’, and he was therefore given a longer sentence of six months ‘to deter (him) from committing further breaches’.
The judge, sitting with Mr Justice Chamberlain, said there was no alternative to custodial sentences given that the group’s actions were so serious and they had made it clear they intended to further flout court orders.
She said: ‘The defendants, or some of them, seem to want to be martyrs for their cause, and the media campaign surrounding this hearing appears designed to suggest this. We, however, have to act dispassionately and proportionately.’
The group and their supporters chanted ‘We are unstoppable, another world is possible’, as they were led to the cells through the dock by security officers.
Raj Chada, a solicitor at Hodge Jones and Allen law firm who supported the protesters, said: ‘With these prison terms, the long and honourable tradition of civil disobedience is under attack again.
Insulate Britain activist Ben Taylor (left, at the High Court yesterday), 27, was jailed for six months after boasting he would immediately block the roads again if not imprisoned. Roman Paluch-Machnik (right, yesterday), 28, was among six of the activists jailed for four months
Activists Emma Smart (left) and Oliver Rock (right) receive hugs outside the court yesterday
Nine Insulate Britain eco zealots were jailed yesterday after admitting breaching an injunction
‘Rather than leaving courts to imprison those that raise the alarm, it should be the Government that acts to protect us against the climate crisis.’
Insulate Britain says it intends to continue with the protests, which have sparked anger among motorists until the Government agrees to insulate homes. The High Court has so far issued five injunctions to prevent protesters from blocking roads.
They include four injunctions granted to National Highways, banning demonstrations on the M25, around the Port of Dover and on major roads around London, and one to Transport for London (TfL). TfL was granted a civil banning order aimed at preventing protesters from obstructing traffic on some of the capital’s busiest roads.
Those who breach the injunctions could be found in contempt of court and face a maximum penalty of two years in prison or an unlimited fine.
Further committal proceedings are expected to be issued against other Insulate Britain protesters by the end of the week, relating to protests on October 27. There could also be proceedings in relation to protests on October 29 and November 2.