Notable Bristolians Lead Park Street Funeral Action

Notable Bristol figures led a mock funeral procession on Park Street this morning (Friday, December 10) to raise awareness of climate breakdown. 

Amongst the 21 taking part were green travel pioneer Alastair Sawday, local restaurateur Arne Ringner, and former head teacher of Bristol Cathedral School (now the Choir School) Christopher Martin. 

Martin, 83, who organised the action, said that he did so for the sake of future generations, adding that it would be ‘monstrous’ to leave younger people to sort out the climate crisis. 

‘Sadly we recognise that we are members of the generation which has been largely responsible for the current fragility of the planet.

‘I could not look my grandchildren in the face if I failed to make any move to arrest the current decline in the earth’s ecosystems and biodiversity.’

The funeral procession prepares to cross Park Street. Image: James Ward.

Motivated by the failure of COP26, activists involved in the performance say they are targeting the banks and financial institutions which fund the destruction of the planet. They cite in particular Barclays, HSBC, and investment companies BlackRock and Vanguard. 

A coffin, representing “Death by Asphyxiation,” was carried back and forth across the pedestrian crossing on Park Street, outside City Hall. Traffic was briefly halted during each procession but was able to flow in between.

Four men, dresses in Black, carry a coffin across a pedestrian crossing.
Protesters carry the coffin across Park Street. Image: James Ward.

Dressed in pressed trousers and polished shoes, overcoats and even the odd top hat, today’s performers defied the stereotype of the climate activist as an unwashed hippy. 

Alastair Sawday, 76, said he hoped his action would be an example to younger generations and to his own.

‘If people like me are prepared to do this sort of of thing, a sort of mild protest, then things must be serious.’

On the role businesses have to play in addressing the climate crisis, Sawday said it shouldn’t be all about the bottom line.

In comments he admitted were ‘hard line,’ he said: ‘Businesses have no right to exist and it’s perfectly fine for them to go bust if the planet can’t tolerate what they’re doing.’ 

Those involved in the action were all affiliated with XR and associated affinity groups. 

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