The 'Polly Higgins' Extinction Rebellion boat

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Activist group Extinction Rebellion used the boat during their summer 2019 protests calling for urgent action on climate change.

The blue boat, named 'Polly Higgins' was on display in the grounds of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich until November 2019.

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Extinction Rebellion boat 'Polly Higgins' outside the National Maritime Museum
The Extinction Rebellion boat 'Polly Higgins' on display at the National Maritime Museum (© National Maritime Museum)

What is the history of the Extinction Rebellion boat?

Extinction Rebellion first used a pink boat to block Oxford Circus for five days in April 2019. Even after the boat was impounded by police, the symbol of the boat continued to be used by the protestors.

In July 2019 five boats, including the one now on display, were used during protests across the UK. This blue boat was part of the demonstration from Monday 15 to Friday 19 July 2019 outside the Royal Courts of Justice. Following the protest, Extinction Rebellion loaned the boat to the National Maritime Museum.

How does climate change affect the oceans?

Climate change is causing sea levels to rise. The ocean has absorbed over 90% of the heat increase caused by greenhouse gases to date. Water expands as it becomes warmer (thermal expansion). This, coupled with the additional water from melting ice sheets and glaciers, has already led to global sea level rises.

The United Nations predicts that we have less than 11 years to prevent irreversible damage from climate change.

Why is the boat called ‘Polly Higgins’?

The blue boat is named after Polly Higgins (1968–2019), an environmental campaigner and barrister. Higgins spent the last decade of her life working towards making ecocide a crime at the International Criminal Court. In 2010 she presented her proposal for this law, to protect the Earth from ecological and climate ecocide (ecosystem loss or damage caused by corporate and/or governments), to the United Nations. Her team are now continuing her legacy.