‘Our demand will save lives – I must take the fight wherever I go,’ says scientist
An ecologist says she has started a hunger strike after being jailed for her part in climate protests.
Emma Smart, 44, was among nine Insulate Britain activists sent to prison on Wednesday for breaching a government injunction that banned them from blocking roads.
The campaigners from the group, which is calling for a national home insulation strategy, were jailed for contempt of court.
Ms Smart’s husband said he was terrified but that he stood by her decision to go without food in prison.
Since the summer, Insulate Britain has shut down busy roads, including motorways, by sending activists to stand or sit in front of traffic and glueing themselves to roads.
Ms Smart was handed a four-month sentence alongside Ben Buse, 36, Roman Paluch-Machnik, 28, Oliver Rock, 41, Tim Speers, 36, and James Thomas, 47, for taking part in a blockade on the M25 on October 8, while Ana Heyatawin, 58, and Louis McKechnie, 20, were jailed for three months.
She said she began her hunger strike from the time she was sentenced, around 11am on Wednesday.
“As a scientist and conservationist, I have spent my entire adult life working to protect those that don’t have a voice or are unable to stand up for themselves. This prison sentence will take me away from valuable work,” she said.
“I am proud of my actions with Insulate Britain.
“The government knows that our simple no-brainer demand to cut carbon emissions by insulating Britain’s homes will save lives, eliminate fuel poverty and create thousands of valuable jobs.”
Her husband, Andy Smith, 45, said: “Obviously I’m terrified. It’s a horrible thing for her to go through but I stand by her decision to do that.
“She’s an incredibly passionate person dedicated to trying to 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 fight for justice.”
Ms Smart added: “I used to believe that my place in fighting this battle – and it is a battle – was in a university, in a research lab and in the field. I now know that I must take that fight wherever I go.
“So I am extending my protest into prison by exercising the only freedom that l have left: to control whether I eat.”
Climate activists are planning a “day of civil resistance” in London on Saturday “to express solidarity” with the 34 people from Insulate Britain who face jail for up to two years for contempt of court for breaking motorway injunctions.
Another 23 members of the group are expected to be summoned in the coming weeks.
The Independent has asked the government how it will respond to Ms Smart’s hunger strike.