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Climate change protesters gather in Manchester for four day demo

Photo taken at a previous Extinction Rebellion protest in London. Credit: PA

Climate change protestors have started to gather in Manchester city centre for four days of demonstration.

Members of the group Extinction Rebellion are staging a ''family-friendly protest zone'' on Deansgate, one of the city's most polluted roads. The group, who have held demonstrations across the globe, want the government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.

Credit: ITV Granada Reports

Climate change is listed as an issue on Manchester City Council's agenda - a climate emergency was declared last month and leaders have set a target of making the city zero carbon by 2038. In a statement, deputy leader Cllr Nigel Murphy said the council understood the urgency of tackling climate change and respected this weekend's protests. However, he warned demonstrators to be be respectful of the rights of Manchester residents to go about their day-to-day business.

We believe in and respect people's right to peaceful protest and will always work with campaign groups, alongside the police and other agencies, to ensure they can demonstrate safely.

We recognise the urgency of tackling climate change. Manchester City Council declared a climate change emergency last month and we are determined to be in the forefront of tackling this urgent issue. We have set a target of making Manchester a zero carbon city by 2038 or earlier – at least 12 years ahead of the national target.

But in return for respecting the rights of protesters we expect that they respect the right of Manchester residents to go about their day-to-day business with minimal disruption. Manchester is used to events which bring an influx of people. We are working with GMP, Transport for Greater Manchester, CityCo and others to do all we can to minimise the impact on the city.

Manchester is used to handling events which bring an influx of people and we would encourage people who live, work in or visit the city centre not to be deterred but to be aware of potential impacts and check Greater Manchester Police, Transport for Greater Manchester and Manchester City Council social media, and local media, for any updated advice.

– Cllr Nigel Murphy, Manchester City Council
Credit: ITV Granada Reports

However, a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion said despite the commitments from the council, the moves are ''barely scratching the surface''.

Most Greater Manchester boroughs and the GM Combined Authority have now declared a climate emergency. Every policy, including transport, is now supposed to consider its effects on our climate crisis and help cut carbon emissions.

Yet despite these statements little seems to change and we’re barely scratching the surface of the cuts we need to make. Manchester airport is still expanding, and millions are still being invested in major road developments that will increase car journeys, such as Great Ancoats Street in Manchester.

– Extinction Rebellion representative.
Credit: ITV Granada Reports

The group has promised a weekend of free talks, music performances, art, training, food and workshops - as well as the installation of a five-metre high sculpture made from waste plastic, and a garden of donated plants.

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Those travelling in and out of the city centre over the next four days have been encouraged to plan their journeys in advance. Last night, Superintendent Chris Hill from Greater Manchester Police took to social media to encourage people to keep an eye out online for travel updates.

In the video, Superintendent Hill also said that though the force respected people's right to a lawful protest, any illegal activity ''will be dealt with accordingly''.

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