Barnsbury eco-activist standing up on stage – and in the dock – over climate change

Sam Knights takes his show about environmental protests to Edinburgh Festival

Friday, 26th July 2019 — By Emily Finch

Sam Knights_XR

Sam Knights says getting arrested is mentally wearing

A LEADING climate change activist will be swapping super glue for a microphone as he takes his stand-up show to the Edinburgh Festival.

Sam Knights, 23, from Barnsbury, has spent the past year campaigning for Extinction Rebellion, which helped to pressure the government to declare a climate emergency in May.

Mr Knights, who is performing under his stage name Sam Haygarth, told the Tribune: “Before I was involved in Extinction Rebellion I was a writer, actor and comedian and I am now going back to doing it. I’ve got so tired. I’m at the point where I joined a year ago and I’ve been working full time with them since.

“It’s got a little bit much now and I need a break. I’m going to go tell jokes.”

His hour-long show will cover getting arrested, hiding his activism from his parents and the impending doom facing our planet.

The festival, which runs through most of August, sees thousands of comedians, actors and musicians perform at hundreds of venues in the Scottish capital.

Mr Knights was on trial at Hendon Magistrates’ Court this week after being charged with criminal damage and aggravated trespass along with eight others.

He was among a group who had glued themselves to the doors of the Intercontinental Hotel in London’s Park Lane to protest the International Petroleum conference back in February.

Mr Knights said he was “daunted” by the prospect of having a criminal record.

He said: “I’ve never had a run-in with authority. The hours at the police station wore on and it was grim after getting arrested. You’re alone in your cell and I eventually asked for a book. They offered Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz or Beckoning Silence which became a metaphor for the next 14 hours I spent in a cell.”

He added: “They occasionally give you a meal and since I was vegetarian I had chips and baked beans. Then you go mad as the hours are wearing on. I left at 3am, didn’t have my possessions so I had to walk back from Westminster to Islington. It was mentally wearing.”

In the past year Mr Knights has campaigned side-by-side with activists from indigenous communities and those who will be worst hit by climate change.

He criticised “old forms of power and diplomacy” as being “out of date in the 21st century” after experiencing the UN’s climate change conference in Poland in December last year.

He said: “The countries most at risk of climate change are the ones not responsible for the most carbon emissions”, adding: “They also tend to be some of the smallest nations. You see their lives and voices being written off again and again and again. It’s incredibly emotional to be at a conference like that.”

He said his time with Extinction Rebellion meant he “didn’t care about a career as much”.

“With most people going to Edinburgh with a debut comedy show they do three years gigging on the London circuit, but I’ve written this in two weeks and I’m taking it up for a bit of fun,” Mr Knights added.

Sam Haygarth: Climate Crisis is on at Just the Tonic at the Mash House, Edinburgh, from August 1-25 at 6.35pm. Entrance is free. To find out more go to:

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