Large parts of central London were this morning blocked by groups of climate change protesters from Extinction Rebellion.
Hundreds of people are taking place in demonstrations, gluing themselves to the floor and one another.
Among the roads that were blocked are Millbank, Embankment, Parliament Street, Lambeth Bridge and The Mall.
Police said that by 8am 21 people had been arrested but that number is expected to rise significantly.
Today is the first day of a series of protests taking place throughout the streets of London. Organisers have said they expect the demonstrations to be five times bigger than a similar event that brought disruption to the capital over summer.
The first protest kicked off on Embankment early this morning where two cars blocked the road with protesters chained to them.
Police were seen carrying people away from the scene after protesters holding an XR Peace banner spread across the busy route.
Officers were seen with angle grinders releasing people who had chained themselves through the back seat of a car.
There were also a couple of protesters fastened to a trailer carrying a mock-up of a missile with the words ‘stop Trident’ painted on the sides.
Extinction Rebellion said protesters from the XR Peace group arrested as they blocked Victoria Embankment outside the Ministry of Defence included 81-year-old Sarah Lasenby, a Quaker and retired social worker from Oxford.
She said: ‘For 21 years my main concern has been to help get rid of UK nuclear weapons.
‘I am still keen to do this but once I came across XR I was so relieved to have something I could do about the ghastly state we have got our planet in.’
And she said: ‘The whole thing is so urgent that it is imperative the Government should take serious actions and put pressure on other states and Global Powers to radically reduce the use of fossil fuels even if this means we need to reduce our comfort at home and so much flying.’
Extinction Rebellion protesters playing steel drums marched from Parliament Square to Trafalgar Square where they plan to kick off two weeks of disruption in the city.
A 25-year-old teacher from London who took the week off to join the protests said: ‘The plan is to shut down the whole of London.
‘The issue of climate change is an issue for everyone, and it’s clear we can’t leave it to the politicians. I booked the week off work for this. The school kids are out protesting too. Everyone is.’
Police are searching anyone suspected of carrying paint.
In Parliament Square, around 100 gathered banging drums and dancing close to Westminster Palace at around 9.30am.
Activists from the group last night held an ‘opening ceremony’ ahead of two weeks of planned protests across the capital.
They have said they will target Westminster and Lambeth Bridge along with demonstrations outside key Government departments.
More than a thousand people attended an ‘opening ceremony’ at Marble Arch on Sunday evening, featuring meditation and dancing as ‘inspiration’ prior to the protests.
Groups of artists held a procession around Marble Arch as the protesters were told to ‘surround’ the upcoming demonstrations with love.
Extinction Rebellion spokesperson Zoe Jones, 24, said Marble Arch will be used throughout the two-week protests as other sites are moved between.
She said: ‘We’re here to pressure the Government into action because we can’t wait any longer.
‘The next two weeks will involve marches and family friendly events, there’ll be some spicier actions as well and some will be arrestable.
‘We’ve had 4,000 rebels sign up and say they are willing to be arrested – which is a huge increase on the number arrested in April of 1,000.
‘The public perception of XR is that we’re disrupting ordinary people’s lives by blocking roads and that’s why this time we’re taking our protests to the seat of power and taking it to Westminster.
‘We are on the public’s side and we are ordinary people who are extremely concerned.’
The Metropolitan Police said that by 8am on Monday there had been 21 arrests in connection with the Extinction Rebellion protests.
The arrests are in addition to those over the weekend, with eight people arrested on Saturday – seven on suspicion of conspiracy to cause public nuisance, and the eighth on suspicion of obstructing police.
All those arrested on Saturday have been released under investigation.
And on Sunday one woman and two men were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to cause public nuisance.
The woman has been released under investigation, the men remain in custody, the police said.
Grace Maddrell, 14, said : ‘I’m here today because I am angry that no one is doing anything to save my future.
‘I’m scared for that future and I’m here out of love for life and the animals that have gone extinct and everyone’s voice that has been silenced because they were not heard in time.’
‘People are rebelling in these numbers because they realise the time to address this is right now, not in the year 2050, or even 2025. Scientists are despairing because we are almost out of time. They are telling us to panic.
‘The weather won’t wait for politics, and so we will gather in Westminster and stay until the Government tells the truth that families across this country need to know.
‘This includes the terrifying likelihood that our supermarkets will fail us because the food system is too fragile to continually withstand the shocks of extreme weather happening in other parts of the world.’
Many protesters attended Sunday’s opening with tents and supplies in preparation for the upcoming fortnight.
The group is expecting several thousand people to target different government departments, Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament over the next two weeks, according to a Extinction Rebellion spokesman.
Chay, a 23-year-old student from Bristol, said: ‘We’re here to hold our government to account for the shameful disregard for the climate crisis and wider environmental issues we’re facing at the current time.
‘We have many, many actions going on over the next two weeks, I won’t give too much away as I want to leave something to the imagination but we are going to be focusing heavily on Westminster because we feel that our elected officials have let us down time and time again and we think it’s time they learned that we are here for the long run.’
On Saturday the group criticised the Metropolitan Police for alleged pre-emptive arrests and the confiscation of equipment including gazebos and beanbags.
Sunday’s protest was policed by two vans of officers who were stationed by Marble Arch, a small distance from the main protesters.
Ms Jones added: ‘There is a misconception with Extinction Rebellion that to be involved you have to be arrested but that is not the case.’
She continued: ‘At the moment we know we have 11 years to sort out our greenhouse emissions and that means in the next 18 months we have to have radical political change and the one way we have seen in history to get radical political change is to do non-violent political action.’
The protesters ranged in age from small children to the elderly, with many referencing the urgency of climate change for young people.
Grace added: ‘If you look at the people who are in government most of them are a lot older and they’re not going to be alive when this happens and they should be listening to us because they don’t have to worry about it but I do and it’s not fair.’