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A Changing Planet seminar given by Farhana Yamin, an internationally recognised environmental lawyer, climate change policy expert and activist, and organised by students on the SSCP DTP

Why I broke the law for climate change

On 16 April this year, I superglued my hands to the pavement outside the headquarters of the oil company Shell in London, surrounded by dozens of policemen. Once unstuck, I was arrested for causing criminal damage…

Let’s be honest with ourselves. Our summits and 24 years of COPs (the UN Climate Conferences) have not delivered the bold action vulnerable countries and communities were asking for so long ago. We must acknowledge our role in not going fast enough. The way we respond to the climate and ecological crisis unfolding before our eyes, personally and professionally, it is going to make or break our chance to stay on the Paris pathway.

What we need is not system change or personal change — it’s both. The time for half measures has run out. This is why, as I explain in Nature, I chose to break the law and become an activist. Like all parents, I’ll do whatever it takes to keep my children safe. Right now, that means rebelling against a way of being that is destroying their future. Join me!


Farhana Yamin is an internationally recognised environmental lawyer, climate change policy expert and activist. For 30 years she has provided high level strategic and legal advice to leaders of vulnerable countries and was Lead Author of three assessment reports for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. She is also credited with getting the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 into the 2015 Paris Agreement after which Ms Yamin founded Track 0, a co-created global campaign to unify the climate movement focusing on a full phase-out of greenhouse gas emissions to zero in line with climate science.

In 2018 She joined Extinction Rebellion (XR) as Coordinator of the Political Strategy Team and played a central role in the rebellion including getting arrested in April 2019 for glueing herself to the HQ of the oil giant, Shell. She now remains a member of XR’s International Solidarity Network and is an Associate Fellow at Chatham House, a Senior Advisor for Systemiq, a Trustee for Greenpeace-UK and Julie’s Bicycle, and a member the Programme Committee of WWF-UK.



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