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Eco-activists block London traffic despite police making "significant proactive" pre-protest arrests

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London — Climate activists snarled rush hour highway traffic around London on Monday after climbing onto overhead gantries, despite police making pre-emptive arrests. The Just Stop Oil group, which wants the U.K. government to halt new oil and gas extraction, said its members had blocked traffic in at least six locations on the M25 highway, which encircles the British capital.

The latest demonstration comes as world leaders gather for the United Nations' COP27 climate summit in Egypt, where governments are under pressure to step up efforts to combat global heating.

Just Stop Oil, which has been staging disruptive protests throughout this year, said it informed police late on Sunday about its plans to climb gantries over the country's busiest highway during the Monday morning rush hour.

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Indigo Rumblelow, a spokesperson for Just Stop Oil, said it has the legal right "to cause disruption to prevent a greater harm."

"After 30 years of public debate, lobbying and petitioning... we are still on course for catastrophic climate breakdown and we have nowhere else to go," she added.

The government is in the process of passing legislation to crack down on direct action protests. As CBS News' Haley Ott reported, a new policing law already came into effect in April curtailing the right to peaceful protest across the U.K. The new rules have given law enforcement agencies powers to shut down a demonstration if they deem it too "disruptive" or "noisy."

London's Metropolitan Police said it had launched a "significant proactive policing operation" late on Sunday to identify and arrest people it believed were "intent on causing reckless and serious disruption to the public."

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Three people were arrested on Sunday evening and four others were held on Monday morning for conspiracy to cause a public nuisance, the force said. Other police forces responsible for affected areas on the M25 said officers had made arrests early on Monday after they were forced to block traffic to remove the activists.

The Met's Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said they had used more than 10,000 officer shifts to police Just Stop Oil protests since the start of October.

"These are officers who would otherwise be dealing with issues that matter to local communities, such as knife crime, safeguarding and responding to burglaries," he added.

In a video posted to Twitter on Monday by Just Stop Oil, an activist identifies herself as Louise, 24, as she stands on framework for highway signage directly over the M25 and explains that she is taking the action, "because I don't have a future."

Through tears, she addresses the London commuters whose journeys she is complicating, saying: "You might hate me for doing this, and you're entitled to hate me, but I wish you would direct all that anger and hatred at our government. They are betraying young people like me — I wouldn't have to be there if they did their lawful duty to their own citizens."

"What we're asking for is what all the scientists are asking for, what the Untied Nations are asking for," she says into the camera. "How many more people have to say, 'We don't have a livable future if you continue licensing oil and gas.' You need to listen! Why does it take young people like me up on f****** gantry on the M25 for you to listen?"

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