Extinction Rebellion activist Robin Boardman stormed out of a Sky News interview after presenter Adam Boulton accused him of being “patronising” and engaging in “middle-class self-indulgence”.
The 21-year old activist had been discussing the campaign of “mass civil disobedience” that has hit London in recent days that is aiming to raise awareness of the issue of climate change.
He argued the protests, which have seen almost 300 people arrested and severe transport disruption across the British capital, are necessary, saying “mass disruption is the way to get people’s attention”.
Mr Boulton hit back telling him: “I feel very patronised by you because I feel that I’m well aware of what the situation is and I don’t see why millions of fellow citizens should be inconvenienced.”
He went to accuse the activist of behaving like a “right-wing fascist”.
“You sound like someone who wants to dictate to people how they want to live their lives,” he said.
Mr Boardman outlined the group’s three demands – for the Government to declare a “climate and ecological emergency”, the halting in decline of biodiversity and a “new democratic body” in the form of a citizen’s assembly.
Mr Boulton hit back saying: “You’re not really democratic at all, are you?
“You aren’t giving people a choice about having their lives disrupted. You’re not giving people a choice about what they think because you know that it’s right.”
He went on: “There is absolutely no democracy in this at all.”
Mr Boardman said: “People are going to die and if we don’t disrupt that possibility, then we are failing as a species. We’re failing people.
“I care so deeply, so deeply, about the people in this world and all the lives on it and I will not see it die. I will not see it go this way.”
The presenter pointed out the protest was taking place during the Parliamentary Easter recess and that ordinary Londoners were bearing the brunt of the impact of the protests.
He said: “After a week Parliament has left, you come here and cause disruption in Westminster. You are not even getting your message across.”
“You’re like the incompetent middle-class, self-indulgent people and you want to tell us how to live our lives. That’s what you are, aren’t you?”
Mr Boardman said: “People are not going to be able to put food on to their table, on their plates, and I won’t stand for that.”
“And I won’t stand for people who won’t stand up for what it means to live on this planet. And I won’t stand for anything else,” he said before walking out of the interview.
Activists from the group chained themselves to a Docklands Light Railway train in Canary Wharf on Wednesday morning in the latest incident in protests that have brought much of central London to a standstill.
Activists staging a mass sit in on Waterloo Bridge are being slowly removed by the Metropolitan Police, who are telling the demonstrators to move to a designated area at Marble Arch.