Jeff Beynon, right, with his son

Tales from the front line: the reluctant activist

Jeff Beynon says he isn’t a rebel – taking part in the Autumn Uprising was an extension of who he is as an EHP.
12 December 2019 , EHN magazine

Jeff Beynon is public protection manager (health and consumer protection) at Pembrokeshire County Council and a Chartered EHP. By his own admission he is 'not a rebel' – but when it came to the climate emergency he felt he had to act. This is his story:

"On 7 October 2019, I stood alongside other activists who had travelled to London, awaiting the signal to set up our blockades around Westminster as part of Extinction Rebellion’s 10-day Autumn Uprising taking place across more than 60 cities worldwide.

"Our purpose in disrupting ‘business as usual’ was to draw public attention to the climate and ecological emergency, and to put pressure on the Government to take action.

"Six months earlier, my world felt very different – civilised, orderly and secure. That was until I discovered that the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change identified just a dozen years remaining for society to make far-reaching, systemic changes to shift our trajectory away from 'irreversible and catastrophic consequences'.

"Confronted with an apocalyptic scenario of extreme weather events, wildfires, millions displaced by flooding, drought and desertification, crop failure and food scarcity, societal breakdown, mass migration and the danger of reaching irreversible tipping points, the notion of participating in minor acts of civil disobedience felt entirely justified.

"When my arrest came, I was ready for it. Eventually I was released under police bail, but am still uncertain as to whether or not I’ll be charged.Will it affect my job? Hopefully not. A pre-meeting with our HR advisor was supportive. The nature of the protest was not incompatible with my role as a professional officer.

"I am no rebel. I am a Chartered EHP. It’s the norm for me to consider the science to weigh up risk and act accordingly. We have a moral duty to do what’s reasonable and necessary to avert catastrophes."

Read Jeff’s blog.

This article is adapted from one that appeared in the December 2019-January 2020 issue of EHN (login required).

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