‘Clean air for life’ art installation has been erected on College Green by XR activists

‘The climate emergency is still the biggest threat’

An art installation of 50 aluminium cubes has been erected on college green by Extinction Rebellion (XR),  as part of their campaign against air pollution in Bristol.

The Cubes individually spell out “Clean air for life” and “Not just for lockdown”, and are decorated with wildlife and ecology images printed on recylced sheets.

The installation will remain on college green until the end of the day, and XR encourage visitors to follow social distancing guidelines when they visit the Cubes.

The Bristol Tab spoke to Demi, an activist at the Cubes installation, who gave us a run-down of the week: “This whole week is about different actions, mainly creative visuals, and symbolic rather than disruptive action. We are aware that this is a time where people’s lives have been disrupted by the virus so don’t want to put extra stress on people, apart from those who are making the decisions.

“We have seen during lockdown how much nicer Bristol was without the traffic, and you could hear the birds sing again. You can see now we are almost back to normal in terms of cars of the streets.

“There are no concrete steps planned by the council to deliver compliant air for Bristol. The levels of air pollution are illegal at the moment and have been for a very long time. There’s all these promises but there is no first step. The demand that we have nailed on the door of city hall says that we demand compliant air by April 2021.”

“There are bigger actions planned, but none of them are disruptive.”

The Bristol Tab asked Demi whether this form of protesting would be the way forward for XR during the pandemic. She told us: “Part of our main theory of change has disruption at its core. As we are transitioning out of lockdown we are trying to be as sensitive as possible, although Covid-19 is not the only thing going on.

“The climate emergency is still the biggest threat, and a lot of the issues and solutions that come out of the pandemic are the same for climate breakdown, and what we are going to face in the future. Ideally we are trying to link everything together.

“We are in a time where issues like Black Lives Matter and racism and social justice are heightened, and the environmental crisis is heightened and what the pandemic does to the economy is heightened and we have to link all of this together because they are interlinked.

“The issues at the core of all these crises are the same and need to be addressed. If we need to escalate to do that, then we will.”

All photos: Simon Holliday

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