UPDATE 1-Climate protesters interrupt speech by UK finance minister

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Climate change activists interrupt a speech by British Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond to leaders of the country’s financial services industry, in London, Britain June 20, 2019. REUTERS/Andy Bruce

LONDON (Reuters) – Climate change protesters briefly interrupted a high-profile speech by British Finance Minister Philip Hammond to leaders of the country’s financial services industry on Thursday.

Several women, wearing red evening dresses and sashes with the words ‘climate emergency’, prevented Hammond from speaking for a few minutes by using loudspeakers to shout slogans during a banquet in London’s landmark Mansion House building.

Environmental campaign group Greenpeace said it organized the protest in the heart of the capital’s banking district, accusing the finance industry of funding climate change and the finance ministry of trying to water down government action.

“But we are in a #ClimateEmergency – business as usual is no longer an option. That’s why we interrupted the speech tonight,” Greenpeace said on Twitter.

Hammond responded to the protest as he resumed his speech – which focused on Brexit and banking regulation – shortly afterwards.

“The irony of course is that this is the government that has just led the world by committing to a zero-carbon economy,” he said to applause from the audience.

Reporting by Andy Bruce; Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Peter Cooney

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