VICE: What Radical Climate Protesters XR Are Planning Next

(From https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/43zbyp/what-radical-climate-protesters-xr-are-planning-next)

We went to the radical climate group’s offices to hear their plans for civil disobedience.

A coffin inside XR’s temporary headquarters. Photos: Jake Lewis

On Tuesday, as temperatures in London spiked at 21.2C – the warmest winter day on record – Extinction Rebellion (XR) gathered national media to lay out their next steps.

At the climate activism group’s temporary headquarters near Euston railway station, members spoke to the audience as brilliant February sunshine poured through the windows, as if to serve as a troubling reminder of why radical action is necessary. In XR’s case, that means mass civil disobedience as a way to force the government into actually doing something about our rapidly degrading environment – and if that ends in them being arrested, so be it.

XR co-founder Gail Bradbrook was fresh from an appearance at Westminster Magistrates Court. She and five others had been charged with criminal damage – Bradbrook allegedly spray-painted “frack off” on a government building – and all had pleaded not guilty. It had been an emotional day, not least because the judge was, coincidentally, sending them for trial on the 16th of April, a day after XR begin their full-scale international rebellion with coordinated actions on the 15th.

gail bradbrook extinction rebellion

Gail Bradbrook

At times, Bradbrook appeared upset as she delivered an abridged version of XR’s frank and profound talk on the appalling state of the climate. We heard how when it comes to damage control, all we have done to date is “rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic”, and were repeatedly reminded of how “fucked” we all are. But Bradbrook offered nuggets of optimism too, and issued a call to arms to help restore our world.

Hope at XR comes in the form of action. “We can’t just leave it to the COP, we can’t just leave it to the Climate Change Committee’s review of the UK’s long-term target to sort it out,” insisted Farhana Yamin, a climate change lawyer and XR activist. “Because the entire system is out of kilter, out of touch, and it is certainly not working fast enough.”

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Farhana Yamin

XR is planning a relentless campaign of disruptive yet peaceful civil disobedience ahead of the dawn of the sustained rebellion in April, when it is expected that tens of thousands of people will shut down London indefinitely, until the government takes meaningful action over what XR call the “environment emergency”. Multiple actions over the coming weeks will serve as a means to “normalise” mass uprisings, but are also designed to educate and entertain. Some, however, will perhaps trigger shock and even alarm.

A torrent of symbolic, artificial blood will flood Downing Street to create “a sea of red” on the 9th of March, when hundreds of XR members say they are prepared to be arrested as part of The Blood of our Children protest. The idea is to make the gravity of the climate crisis viscerally clear.

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Banners in the temporary XR headquarters

“There will be parents and children, as well as people taking on arrestable roles, like me, who want to make a point about intergenerational injustice,” said Paolo, an XR member. “The idea is to find that sweet spot where the police are obliged to arrest you, but it’s totally non-violent and peaceful. The people who’ve committed criminal damage will sit on the ground and wait to be arrested.”

Young people who have “inherited” the climate crisis are also mobilising among themselves. An XR youth faction was formed just days ago and now has eight members. Robin is 24 and a founding member of XR Youth. He joked that it’s his mum’s 60th birthday soon and that he might not be around for it if he’s arrested.

“We want to represent the youth voice,” he told me outside XR HQ, where he was about to lead a non-violent direct action training session for a group of young people. “If you were born in 1990 or later, you’ve never experienced a normal climate, so we’ve set that as our age range. We are the generation of fucked up climate, and we are the generation that’s going to take it forward.”

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The temporary XR headquarters

Training people in peaceful rebellion is key to XR’s mission. Workshops are held most days of the week in local groups across the country, but next month will see the movement stage “mass rebellion training for thousands, with a festival atmosphere” at its Spring Uprising in Bristol.

More than a dozen music acts are confirmed, and there will be an art factory, a regenerative sanctuary and solution-focused talks. Alongside the training, this party element of the weekend event is key, said XR member and festival organiser Tiana Jacout, who was introduced to me as the “brains behind the bridges occupation”, i.e. the action in November of 2018 when thousands of XR members blockaded five bridges in central London.

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The temporary XR headquarters

But perhaps the most effective way to seize people’s attention is by going after the very thing that is consuming the nation: Brexit. Although XR does not take a view on leaving the European Union, it is gathering hundreds of people to block the motorway out of Dover as part of its No Brexit on a Dead Planet event on the 30th of March. The action is designed to demonstrate that we could be looking at rioting on the streets if food supplies collapse, not because of Brexit, but climate change.

“It’s phenomenal that while your house is on fire, all the government can do is squabble about getting a slightly shittier trade deal with their closest allies,” said Jacout. “People are squabbling over how food will get to England and not looking at the larger picture of whether there is food available to come to here in the first place.”

Stuff NZ: The planet’s last stand: Why these climate change activists are ready to break the law

Next week thousands of Kiwi students will leave school in a strike for climate change action.

In a suit and tie, retired fund manager Charles Drace is not your typical rebel. California-born, he was once a theatre and film actor, with bit parts in the spaghetti Western ‘Once Upon A Time in the West’ and war movie ‘Patton’.

Now, from his neat town house in central Christchurch, the 74-year-old is plotting how to get arrested.

“For years and years now, we’ve been playing nice. And I think one of the things that has been recognised in the last year or so is that it’s not working. We just can’t be nice anymore.”

Drace is a climate activist, a member of the global movement Extinction Rebellion. It began in November, when thousands of protesters paralysed London by disrupting traffic. Since then, it’s caught fire across the globe, with around a million members in 35 countries carrying out acts of civil disobedience.

Charles Drace says he's a "fat cat type" but many professional people like him are joining Extinction Rebellion's direct action campaign.
GEORGE HEARD/STUFF
Charles Drace says he’s a “fat cat type” but many professional people like him are joining Extinction Rebellion’s direct action campaign.

They’ve glued themselves to buildings and spray painted “frack off” graffiti, closed five major London bridges, swarmed Fashion Week and gone on hunger strike outside Westminster Palace.

In New Zealand, ‘zombies’ have paraded through Wellington airport, held a funeral for Planet Earth in Nelson, and shut off the water supply to Environment Canterbury’s headquarters. Last week, 35 activists banged on the glass windows of BP’s Auckland office, chanting “liar, liar, pants on fire.”

Next month, they’ll join groups across the world in a week of civil disobedience and attention-grabbing stunts.

(Left to right) Torfrida Wainwright, Rowan Brooks and Charles Drace are all members of the Christchurch branch of Extinction Rebellion, a direct action campaign to protest climate change.
GEORGE HEARD/STUFF
(Left to right) Torfrida Wainwright, Rowan Brooks and Charles Drace are all members of the Christchurch branch of Extinction Rebellion, a direct action campaign to protest climate change.

It’s bigger than just a march. Extinction Rebellion’s goal is to trigger an enormous political and cultural shift, big enough to save the planet from certain doom. They say they need 3.5 per cent of the population on board to make radical change. Numbers in New Zealand total about 2000, so about 165,000 short.

“We are declaring rebellion against the government for criminal inaction and what Extinction Rebellion sees as a climate and ecological emergency,” Rowan Brooks, 29, says.

“One of the core things which XR is saying is we need to tell truth and start acting like it.

“We need to stop pretending that we will sort some things out, and that we’ve got 50 years. Disruptive protest is a way of motivating politicians and the powerful to do things.”

Athlete and small business owner Gene Beveridge, 26, joined the BP protest, the first time he’s ever got involved with a political movement.

“Personally, I’m not really that interested in marching around but if that is what we need, then I’ll do it … I want policies to be a better reflection of science and public opinion.

“Over the past three or four years, with the Trump phenomenon and Brexit, I’ve just realised that the discourse is quite heated. That’s what woke me up.

“I couldn’t rely on other people, there isn’t enough goodness in the world for things just to work out. I had to get involved myself.”

Rowan Brooks says he's prepared to be arrested for protesting against inaction on global warming.
GEORGE HEARD/STUFF
Rowan Brooks says he’s prepared to be arrested for protesting against inaction on global warming.

Until now, climate activism has concentrated on pollution, plastics, the impact on animals and forests or the melting of ice-sheets. Extinction Rebellion goes much further, warning of the collapse of civilisation, famine and the extinction of mankind.

“We have to be dramatic, we have to make the point so strongly that the Government is forced to listen, instead of listening gently and coming back with platitudes,” Drace says.

Their message might be extreme, but you won’t find more polite subversives. They are non-violent, against damage to property and use graffiti paint that washes away.

Brooks, a community garden co-ordinator, frequently interrupts himself to make sure others in the group get a fair say.

Drace likes formal dress for protests, because environmentalists are often stereotyped as “hippies.”

“I have tried to break that mold,” he laughs. “I guess I would be described by most people as being in a fat cat type of occupation. But there are an awful lot of professional people who really care.”

The Christchurch branch, with around 150 members, is planning their first ‘swarming’ road blocks in the city. They’ll last ten minutes each, and volunteers will hand out water, snacks and explanatory pamphlets.

“We are going to be doing really short stints just around the place, to practice and to start little moments of disruption,” Brooks says.

“It’s not about the motorists. It is about saying maybe we need to stop what we are doing for a second and look at the gravity of the situation.

“Once traffic isn’t moving through a city, then that has a flow on effect which is economic. People aren’t managing to do their things as well. And then people start saying [to] council, government: ‘what are you going to do about these people who say there is a climate emergency’?”

A group called Extinction Rebellion turned off water at the ECan offices and chained themselves to the water mains in protest to the way ECan has been dealing with Canterbury’s water.

Aren’t they worried about frustrating people?

Brooks says Kiwi cities won’t suddenly grind to a halt, largely because the movement is in its infancy.

“In New Zealand, with the two degrees of separation, once you have people who are willing to put their bodies on the line, then everyone who knows them, trusts them, maybe starts to believe that action is actually legitimate.”

Brooks was one of five protesters arrested after the group turned off the taps at ECan. They were all released with a warning.

“We opened the thing on the street and turned the tap off,” Brooks says. “Some people sat on the cover … a plumber came and turned on another tap. We went and borrowed some tools from some workers down the road, turned that off and sat on top of that one.

“We are deliberately doing things which we are not supposed to do, because we are saying the government is not doing what it is supposed to do,” Brooks says.

He and Drace are fully prepared to go to prison for their actions.

“We are talking about a dying planet … we face mass extinction, including human extinction. If, tactically, me being in prison is going to help [prevent] that, then lock me up.”

Dr Sea Rotmann is an activist with Extinction Rebellion and also a marine ecologist. Born in Austria, a land-locked country, she loves living on the south coast of Wellington.
ROSS GIBLIN/STUFF
Dr Sea Rotmann is an activist with Extinction Rebellion and also a marine ecologist. Born in Austria, a land-locked country, she loves living on the south coast of Wellington.

​Drace agrees it is “his duty.”

“It is the only honorable thing to do. To get out and fight.

“I don’t believe there is any chance we can stop global warming, but I think there is a big chance that we can delay it and let the next couple of generations at least have some kind of decent life.”

In England, members have described meditating and performing yoga in holding cells after protests. Co-founder Roger Hallam said: “The action itself is not as important as going to prison, which has cultural resonance, you might say.”

Not everyone in the movement feels that way. Marine scientist Sea Rotmann runs a consultancy and her work involves international travel.

“It would be career limiting if I was … arrested or convicted because all of my work is with international governments … for the work I do – which I think has a lot of benefit in terms of finding solutions – I need to be able to travel.”

New Zealand police say there is no ‘national operation order’ for Extinction Rebellion.

But a spokeswoman added: “Our role is to ensure the lawful right to protest while allowing members of the public to go about their daily business safely, and we will respond appropriately to any issues regarding disorder or public safety that may arise.

“We urge anyone planning or undertaking protest activity to keep the safety of themselves and others at the forefront of their minds.”

Torfrida Wainwright has been a climate change activist for more than a decade and says many people now feel "helpless".
GEORGE HEARD/STUFF
Torfrida Wainwright has been a climate change activist for more than a decade and says many people now feel “helpless”.

​Rotmann says joining Extinction Rebellion’s Wellington branch has been empowering.

But she says it’s unusual for a scientist to join a direct action campaign.

“Science is a profession which forces us to be overly conservative with how we describe our data and our facts and our modelling. We are not meant to be catastrophising, to be emotional, or show our frustration, anger and grief … I am a research consultant – not an academic. So, I am able to speak out.”

Rotmann says her scientific knowledge has left her distraught.

“I’ve been dealing with a lot of grief for many years. I have what many environmental scientists call pre-traumatic stress disorder which is the same as PTSD except you are having it because you know what is coming and you can’t do anything about it. You feel powerless.”

Like many of Extinction Rebellion’s key players, Rotmann has a background in activism. She is involved in court action over the extension of Wellington airport’s runway. Simon Oosterman, the group’s media liaison, is a seasoned campaigner and trade unionist who organised the first Starbucks pay strike, and was arrested for taking part in a naked bike ride to protest vehicle emissions.

Brooks and Drace campaigned against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, with Brooks organising protests.

Rotmann, Drace and his fellow Christchurch team member Torfrida Wainwright, are all Green Party members.

But even though they are pushing the Government to do more, they don’t see a conflict with their party. Especially as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has called climate change her generation’s “nuclear free moment.”

“It’s great leverage,” Wainwright, 68, a veteran feminist and climate campaigner says. “It is something we can use. We can say to her: ‘You are saying this and now act on it.’

“You couldn’t say that to John Key because he and Bill English denied there was a problem anyway. All you could do is beat at the walls.”

​Rotmann has twice stood as a candidate for the Greens.

“Extinction Rebellion is completely non-partisan and I think it is really important that it stays that way. But, in a lot of ways, the New Zealand Government is not as anti-environment, and is promoting climate change [action], in a way other governments aren’t.

“I mean, it would be different under a National government.”

Despite this affinity with the Government, the protests are demanding carbon neutrality by 2025, not the 2050 timeline proposed.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw says the rebels aren’t alarmists, and he gets their frustrations.

“They are deeply concerned that we do everything we can to limit global warming to help limit the impacts of climate change,” he says. “I share those concerns … Our aim is to be carbon neutral by 2050. That goal is consistent with the science outlined in last year’s IPCC report about what’s needed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels.

“We may find that solutions and the momentum of change to low emissions options enable us to meet that net zero goal sooner than 2050, in which case I hope future governments will want to move faster.”

He says he is concerned about public safety and property.

“I understand the organisation’s depth of feeling about climate change and their commitment to ensuring the issue of climate change is not ignored.  Civil disobedience is a longstanding means of drawing attention to issues of public concern. All I would ask is that they do not put themselves or others at risk of harm through their actions.​”

Drace remains frustrated and wants the Government to immediately halt all oil exploration – not just new permits

“The Government will say ‘oh, we are doing all we can’ and yet nothing significant, nothing effective is happening,” he says. “And so there is a widespread feeling that is growing dramatically – and the students’ strike is part of this.”

Next week, school children across the world will go on strike, part of a growing international youth movement inspired by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg. Extinction Rebellion Christchurch members have been working closely with local kids.

Drace ran a half-hour workshop for the junior demonstrators, taking them through planning and advertising, dealing with police, avoiding trouble and even which spray paints and stencils to use on their placards.

Twelve-year-old Lucy Gray is organising the March 15 rally in the city’s Cathedral Square. About 1000 students are expected to ‘strike’ in 20 cities – joining millions of children across 51 countries.

“The strike is a campaign for kids to be able to share their voice with the rest of the world because although we can’t vote, we still have a voice, and we need to be able to use that to get the government to realise this is our future, it’s matters to us and we want to stand up for our future,” the Beckenham pupil says.

While Extinction Rebellion’s message is doom-laden, Gray and her friends are much more positive.

“I am worried but I try to convert my anxiety and fear into action because the more action we have, the more we can do.

“I try and stay positive because if we let it drag us down we are not going to have energy to do the things we need to do, we are not going to have that fire inside us that we need to keep burning.”

 

Adults won’t take climate change seriously. So we, the youth, are forced to strike.

By Maddy Fernands, Isra Hirsi, Haven Coleman, Alexandria Villaseñor (The authors are the lead organizers of US Youth Climate Strike) We, the youth of America, are fed up with decades of inaction on climate change. On Friday, March 15, young people like us across the United States will strike from school. We strike to bring attention to the millions of our generation who will most suffer the consequences of increased global temperatures, rising seas, and extreme weather. But this isn’t a message only to America. It’s a message from the world, to the world, as students in dozens of countries on every continent will be striking together for the first time. For decades, the fossil fuel industry has pumped greenhouse gas emissions into our atmosphere. Thirty years ago, climate scientist James Hansen warned Congress about climate change. Now, according to the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on global temperature rise, we have only 11 years to prevent even worse effects of climate change. And that is why we strike. We strike to support the Green New Deal. Outrage has swept across the United States over the proposed legislation. Some balk at the cost of transitioning the country to renewable energy, while others recognize its far greater benefit to society as a whole. The Green New Deal is an investment in our future—and the future of generations beyond us—that will provide jobs, critical new infrastructure and most importantly, the drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions essential to limit global warming. And that is why we strike. To many people, the Green New Deal seems like a radical, dangerous idea. That same sentiment was felt in 1933, when Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed the New Deal—a drastic piece of legislation credited with ending the Great Depression that threatened (and cost) many lives in this country. Robber-barons, ordinary citizens, and many in between were enraged by the policies enacted by the New Deal. But looking back at how it changed the United States, it’s impossible to ignore that the New Deal brought an end to the worst economic disaster in history by creating fundamental programs like Social Security and establishing new regulatory agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Works Progress Administration mobilized workers across the nation to build important infrastructure—including thousands of schools—that has improved Americans’ everyday life for generations. Change is always difficult, but it shouldn’t be feared or shied away from. Even for its detractors, Roosevelt’s New Deal ended up working out quite well. The United States led the world’s economy throughout the many decades since. The changes proposed in the Green New Deal will help ensure our entire species has the opportunity to thrive in the decades (and centuries) to come. As the original New Deal was to the declining US economy, the Green New Deal is to our changing climate. And that is why we strike. The popular arguments against the Green New Deal include preposterous claims that it will ban airplanes, burgers, and cow flatulence—claims that are spread even by some of the most powerful leaders in our nation like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Although these outlandish claims are clearly false, they reveal a larger truth apparent in the American, and world, populations: Instead of taking action on the imminent threat of climate change, our leaders play political games. Because adults won’t take our future seriously, we, the youth, are forced to. And that is why we strike. The alarming symptoms of Climate Denialism—a serious condition affecting both the hallways of government and the general population—mark our current historical crossroads of make-it-or-break-it action on climate change. Although there are many reasons for this affliction—such as difficulty grasping the abstract concept of a globally changed climate, or paralysis in the face of overwhelming environmental catastrophe—the primary mode of Climate Denialism contagion involves lies spouted by politicians, large corporations, and interest groups. People in power, like Senator McConnell and the Koch brothers, have used money and power to strategically shift the narrative on climate change and spread lies that allow themselves and other fossil fuel industry beneficiaries to keep the fortunes they’ve built on burning fossil fuels and degrading the environment. The current US president is a rabid climate change denier himself. President Trump pulled out of the historic Paris Agreement and repeatedly tweets about weather phenomena that he claims somehow disprove the existence of climate change—despite the fact that his own administration has reported the facts of climate change and its impact on the United States. We are also concerned that top Democrats demonstrate their own lack of urgency about the existential threat of climate change. California senator Dianne Feinstein’s recent dismissal of a group of schoolchildren visiting her office to beg her support for the Green New Deal was very disturbing for us young people. Feinstein will not have to face the consequences of her inaction on climate change. She suggested that the children one day run for the Senate themselves if they wish to pass aggressive climate legislation. Sadly, that may not be an option for us, if she and other Democrats, like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, continue to dismiss the pleas of our generation. Faced with politicians on both sides of the aisle who belittle and ignore us, we’re forced to take a stand, and we’re doing it together on a global scale. And that is why we strike. We strike because our world leaders haven’t acknowledged, prioritized, or properly addressed the climate crisis. We strike because marginalized communities across our nation—especially communities of color and low income communities—are already disproportionately impacted by climate change. We strike because if the societal order is disrupted by our refusal to attend school, then influential adults will be forced to take note, face the urgency of the climate crisis, and enact change. With our future at stake, we call for radical legislative action—now—to combat climate change and its countless detrimental effects on the American people. We strike for the Green New Deal, for a fair and just transition to a 100 percent renewable economy, and to stop creation of new fossil fuel infrastructure. We strike because we believe the climate crisis should be called what it really is: A national emergency, because we are running out of time. The letter was published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Newsletter #14 – Going Global

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Welcome to the 14th Extinction Rebellion Newsletter!

In the global north, spring is almost here – but Extinction Rebellion is blooming in both hemispheres, bringing our ideas and energy to minds and streets around the world.

In time for the new season, we’ve publicly released our strategy for the coming months – you can read it here. Branching out from the main strategy is a specific actions overview, from which in turn has branched an actions how-to guide which will help empower people all over the world to organise their own rebellions against our criminally complacent systems.

Speaking of guidance, the snowballing Earth March has also released a guide to help rebels everywhere in joining or establishing a March near them.

And in case that isn’t enough preparation, the Spring Uprising festival, coming up on the 16th of March, will welcome rebels from across the UK (or even beyond!) to take part in a weekend of training, celebration and community. You can book tickets here.

 

But it’s not all preparation – in fact there’s been so much going on over the past few weeks that it’s been hard to keep up. Actions include XR launching in many new countries and cities, rebel teachers marching on the Department of Education in London, XR members blocking coal ports in Australia, and a week of rebellion across Canada.

More and more citizens across the globe are joining our movement and standing up to rebel for life; in celebration of this global solidarity, this week we’re giving special prominence to the actions of our fellow rebels all over the world.

 

We’re entering a pivotal moment in history – if you’d like to get involved, our volunteers page has just published an exciting new round of available roles which we’d really love to fill. To help out in your area, get in touch with your nearest XR group. If you can’t spare time, but can donate money instead, please see our fundraiser page.

Check out what’s on near you with our full list of upcoming events, available to view on our website rebellion.earth/events. Or create your own event by filling in our talks and trainings form. If you’re new, or haven’t already seen it, remember to check out our Campaign Overview Document.

If you’d like to look back through the newsletter archive, you can find it here.

Please help us improve the newsletter by telling us what you think about its current content, format and what are the most important things we should be including. Take the 4 minute survey.

 

Contents

  • International Highlights
  • Recent UK Activity
  • Upcoming Activity
  • Announcements
  • Extreme Weather
  • Latest News and Data
  • Recommended Content
  • Regenerative Culture / Good News Stories

International Highlights

South Africa – February 7, March 15 and 23

Rebels used South Africa’s recent state-of-the-nation address to raise awareness of Extinction Rebellion’s demands, by holding a mock parliament and making their own address to the nation. There’s an ongoing, dynamic discussion about how XR can best tackle South Africa’s unique challenges, and help people affected by climate breakdown.

As well as participating in the upcoming international actions, Extinction Rebellion South Africa has two upcoming events:

March 15 Co-hosting the Cape Town Climate Strike, in solidarity with school students.

March 23 Funeral for the earth events in Cape Town, Jo’burg, Durban and more.

Italy – February 10

Rebels performed a die-in at a Mall in Milan. It was a rainy Sunday afternoon so the mall was busy, and the protest garnered a lot of attention. You can watch Extinction Rebellion Italy’s beautifully produced video here.

Canada – February 10-17

An Extinction Rebellion week in Canada saw a variety of creative actions across the country. As well as road-blocks and die-ins, XR attempted to deliver 4180 dumpster-dived candy canes to a politician to highlight the problem of food waste, and used the occasion of Valentine’s day to invite people to write love letters to trees.

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Switzerland – February 12 and 23

Lausanne saw its first Extinction Rebellion action on February 12, when Rebels enacted a silent grieving in front of the city hall. This powerful demonstration asked arriving councillors to vote yes on a resolution that would declare a climate emergency, and prioritise measures to combat climate breakdown. The resolution was postponed but the Swiss rebels remain undeterred, declaring “the pressure on the government is only the beginning”.

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Meanwhile, in Zurich, on February 23, Rebels performed a series of die-ins in the city’s main shopping area. More than 25 participants simultaneously dropped to the ground and remained motionless for five minutes, while others spoke to people in the crowd. Despite some negative (though comical) comments such as “you should be at home making babies!”, the response was generally positive.

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Belgium – February 19

In a spectacular first action for their country, Rebels protested outside a high-level international climate conference in Brussels. Rebels challenged the attending world leaders to set more ambitious targets on the oceans and climate change; they also managed to infiltrate the conference and interrupt the opening speech by Prime Minister Charles Michel (you can see a video of that here and more coverage on their facebook page). Their protest received significant media coverage: see here, here, here, and here for a few examples (not in English).

Sweden – February 22

Teachers in Stockholm demonstrated in front of their Department of Education in solidarity with protesting UK teachers and pupils, demanding the declaration of a state of emergency and the prioritization of the climate crisis in education. Students must be taught the truth about the ongoing catastrophe, they insisted, and all student climate strikes must be permitted.

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Ireland – February 10

Extinction Rebellion Ireland, in coalition with other groups, held a die-in in Dublin on February 10, to protest a proposed gas terminal. This was covered in the media, including on page two of the Irish Independent, a prominent newspaper (picture shown here).

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The Irish Rebels have also been busy holding various meetings and community talks.

Germany – February 23

In Hamburg, Rebels held a ‘funeral’ march in memory of all of the species that have gone extinct due to human activity. It was the first action in Hamburg; Rebels found it to be a good chance to meet each other and plan for the future. This video gives good coverage of the event.

Czech Republic – February 26

Extinction Rebellion CZ had a high visibility action when they dropped a banner in Prague old town square, calling upon the City of Prague to declare a climate emergency. Bravo!
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Australia

Recently, having blocked a coal terminal in Australia for several days, protesters were greeted by a row of police at the gates to Abbot point, Adani. One protester had suspended himself on a giant tripod above the railway line that feeds key Adani infrastructures.

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Spain – March 1 and 5

Extinction Rebellion Spain University group, along with FridaysForFuture and Youth4Climate, held a sit-in at the Congress of Deputies in Madrid.

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Now, Rebels are inviting climate and ecocide protesters to join them on the March 5th at 7.30pm in Madrid. They plan to hold a ‘jam’ in the city centre and are inviting everyone to share their creative skills. This could involve music, dance, circus skills and art on the streets. For more information click here.

France – March 24

French working groups are busy preparing for the “Jour de Declaration de Rebellion” (JDR) on 24 March, which will mark the start of Extinction Rebellion action there. It will take place at 2pm at the Place de la Bourse, in Paris, and will urge the government to meet Extinction Rebellion’s demands. A declaration statement will go out as a press release on March 20. The event page is here.

Planning is already underway for follow-up civil disobedience locally and nationally, and Rebels are conducting training in non-violent direct action and discussing how best to respond to the questions of the media and individuals.

Recent Activity

London Rebels Disrupt International Petroleum Week

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On Wednesday 27th February, Extinction Rebels disrupted International Petroleum Week by blocking access to the hotel hosting an international gathering of fossil fuel companies, meeting to network and form new partnerships. Global finance’s cynical continuation of the status quo at the cost of life on this planet cannot continue unchecked, and we are supremely grateful to the brave Rebels who took action to disrupt the event and draw attention to the crimes of Big Oil. And despite the ideological clash, some delegates expressed support for Extinction Rebellion and took up the chanting inside.

Filmmaker Jack Harries was among nine arrested at the peaceful action, where activists glued themselves to the glass front doors of the hotel.

 

The Blue Wave, Glasgow

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On March 2nd people flooded into Glasgow dressed in blue and green to draw attention to the rising sea-levels and flooding caused by the changing climate. They came together to demand that Glasgow City Council join local authorities across the country in making a Declaration of Climate Emergency.

 

XR Media Briefing

On 25th February, Extinction Rebellion held its first mass press briefing at its new London offices. Attended by media from across the world, the briefing shared Extinction Rebellion’s plans for the months ahead in order to ensure maximum coverage of our upcoming actions. Please keep an eye on our Upcoming Activity section and the press section of the website to keep up to date with these developments.

 

Teachers March on Department of Education

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Friday 22nd of February teachers and students of all ages, supported by Extinction Rebellion, marched on the Department of Education in London to demand that climate and ecological emergency is made an educational priority. The protest came in the wake of  a letter signed by more than 200 academics in support of the Youth Strike 4 Climate. As it stands a student can go through the state education system and only hear climate change mentioned up to 10 out of approximately 10,000 lessons.

After some inspiring speeches from activists of all ages, teacher and Extinction Rebellion member Tim Jones spray-painted “Tell the Truth” outside the door of the Department. The peaceful act of protest was followed by a children’s sit-in outside the building, where they sang protest songs.

Speakers at the event included Professor David Humphreys (Open University), Dr Anne Andrews (Cambridge University) and Dr Alison Green, who recently stepped down from her Pro Vice-Chancellor role to focus on full-time climate activism and who authored the academic letter published last week.

 

Fashion Designer Clare Farrell Banned from London Fashion Week

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During the opening of London Fashion Week on Sunday 17th February, Extinction Rebellion began a day of disruption by swarming outside Victoria Beckham’s show at the Tate Britain.

Following the protest, Extinction Rebellion member, organiser and fashion designer, Clare Farrell was barred from entering London Fashion Week, even though she was a Product Developer for the event. A police officer approached Farrell in the queue for the show, addressing her by name and informing her that she would not be allowed to enter as they did not want anyone from Extinction Rebellion to attend.

 

Local contributions

Decentralisation is a key element of XR’s ethos. So while high-profile actions will often take place in the big cities, we’re eager to celebrate all the amazing actions across the country and the world every week. If you’re involved in your local XR scene, in whatever part of the world, and if you’ve got a story to share, please email xr-newsletter@protonmail.com with ‘Story Contribution’ in the subject line. For major bonus points, it’d also be really helpful if you could write the story as you’d like it to appear in the newsletter!

XR Canterbury

Extinction Rebellion campaigners held a mock funeral parade through Canterbury to raise awareness about climate change. At the end of the procession, the traffic was blocked near Westgate Towers, drawing praise as well as anger from drivers.

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XR Shrewsbury

XR Shrewsbury organised a climate march through the town centre on February the 16th, and it was so much better attended than we were expecting. It was a fabulous day!

Marlborough

Rebels in Marlborough have been spreading the message of emergency with leaflets, letters in bottles, and a banner right outside the town hall.

 

Halifax

On the 17th of February 150 rebels in Halifax, Canada, shut down multiple intersections – and then went on radio to talk about it. They’ve since disrupted a local legislature meeting.

 

Upcoming Activity

The Blood of our Children: an Act of Civil Disobedience, March 9th  

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Join our bloody but non-violent civil disobedience at a central London government location. The science is done. We are in a climate and ecological emergency. We’re sending our children into a future likely to involve mental breakdown, starvation, war and early death. There are no words to describe the horrors we risk if we do not make governments act immediately. So we all have a responsibility and duty to take action. Even if that means breaking the law.

So whatever your age, beliefs, or background, Extinction Rebellion is calling for you to come and pour (artificial) blood on the ground outside a key government location. We’ll make the gravity of the crisis viscerally clear and show that we’re prepared to make the sacrifice of our own freedom by being arrested. This is now what’s required. We also wish to apologise to the next generation for our complicity in bequeathing them the toxic legacy of climate and ecological breakdown.

The event page is here. Say you are “going” or “interested” on this page and we will message you with a full briefing. Please share and spread the word. If you have any questions, email us at boocxr@gmail.com.

 

Wales Rising Up: Carnival of Animals, March 9th

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Extinction Rebellion Wales will be taking over some central streets in Cardiff with a colourful eclectic carnival of insects, animals, and plant life.  People across Wales will come together to openly declare rebellion and to call on the Welsh Government to declare a Climate Emergency. There will be music, costumes, performance and more. Check out their Facebook page for more info.

 

XR Rig Rebellion – Edinburgh, March 8th

On Friday 8th of March, the Scottish Oil Club, an exclusive body representing the international oil and gas industry, will hold their annual celebratory dinner at the National Museum of Scotland.

A major driver of the climate emergency, the fossil fuel industry should not be celebrated, and definitely not on International Women’s Day! Women across the globe are on the front line of facing climate chaos, while rarely being the drivers of it.

Extinction Rebellion Scotland will protest this event through a dance-demonstration, driven by love, music and compassion. We’ll be dancing, singing, speaking and sharing – bring music, instruments, and your dancing feet!

Facebook event here.

 

Second UK-Wide Youth Strike – March 15th

Last month saw 10,000 young people across the UK rising up and demanding change, as part of the Global Youth Strike. Their voices caught national media and political attention. Unfortunately, the Government hasn’t received the message yet, as No.10 tweeted that it was a “waste of lesson time”. Together, we can show that that the inaction of political leaders for the past 30 years is much worse, as Greta rightfully pointed out. Join your local strike next Friday, found out more here.

 

Spring Uprising – Festival – March 16th

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WINTER IS OVER, WAKE UP – THERE’S A REBELLION ON

LET’S GET TOGETHER, CELEBRATE XR, GET TRAINED, GET ORGANISED

AND HAVE A DAMN GOOD TIME DOING IT

The weekend of 16/17 March in Bristol, Extinction Rebellion will put on its first ever festival of rebellion, activism and music – dubbed ‘Spring Uprising’ – at which up to 1,000 people at a time will be trained in peaceful non-violent civil disobedience.

Bringing together an unprecedented gathering of people from different backgrounds for nonviolent direct action workshops, music and art, the festival to be held in Bristol’s Motion venue (74-78 Avon Street, Bristol, BS2 0PX) is part of Extinction Rebellion’s planning for what is expected to be one of the largest non-violent civil disobedience acts in decades – International Rebellion beginning 15 April 2019.

The event is supported by music industry and festival organisers such as Boomtown Festival, Buddhafield, Ninja Tune Records, Alfresco Disco, The Green Gathering, Woman Fest and Burn Punk, and over a dozen musical acts have so far been confirmed.

Don’t miss it!

See the website for details – and bookings!

Facebook event-page here.

 

Announcements

 

Legal – Arrest Watch

Extinction Rebels are getting arrested all over the country at a speed that makes it impossible to train up new legal observers fast enough. So what to do?

The XR Legal working group has designed a training to skill up a new team for your local group: The Arrest Watch! Those who do an arrest watch training are not fully trained legal observers. Instead, they know of the whole arrestee support system, from pre-action day preparation to solidarity at the court, and make sure that no arrest goes unwatched.

The Arrest Watch training is intended to prepare you to support fellow rebels by:

– watching and reporting arrests at the time of the action

– answering the arrest phone in a back office

– making sure that no rebel has to go to court on their own

– setting up a legal team in your local XR group

We want to enable every local XR group to set up their own Arrest Watch Team for their actions. So even if you can’t get hold of a legal  observer, you still have a system in place to support your arrestees as best as you can.

Please send 1-2 representative(s) from your local XR group down to the arrest watch training on Saturday, 23rd March, from 10am-3pm.

 

Affinity Groups

NVDA trainings are steaming ahead and Affinity Groups are popping up all over.  Our network is growing so fast! If there are any Affinity Groups out there, who haven’t had a call from a member of the Affinity Group Support Team, please do get in touch with us at xrgroupsnetwork@gmail.com

 

Culture Group

‘Bringing Extinction Rebellion to Arts and Culture’ is a group that will mobilise the power of art and artists for International Rebellion

This group is calling together artists – music, theatre, dance, circus and every other imaginable art – to raise the Rebellion and engage people in a way that protest and actions alone cannot. Ideas are snowballing. Guerrilla arts events to generate a buzz in the weeks up to 15th April – musical flashmobs, poetry slams, and more. Here’s just some of the projects bursting into life…. if you are an artist/arts worker and would like to join this group, get in touch via email to lola@lolaperr.in  We meet on Thursday evenings in the XR London office.

The Silence Ends – an emotive mass spoken chorus with music taken up by multiple groups.

Street Explosion – an explosion of pop-up and street theatre across London featuring new works by famous writers.

Play Piano for International Rebellion – Pianists outdoors in a prominent London street; watch the film.

Sound the rebellion!!! – Flashmobs gather to make a lot of noise and fill the air with sound and fury in the days running up to the 15th.

Sounding Twelve Years – Groups of hand-bell ringers and metal clangers sound the warning knell in locations all over London, ringing out the 12 years we have left.

Moments of power and beauty. Poets and musicians drift into numerous place and engage people with their own personal brief moments of power and beauty to remind people what a precious world we may lose.

And there’s plenty more…  Come and join us and help us make the Rebellion a creative force!

 

Earth March

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The idea of the Earth March is spreading fast, with over 700 people already involved in planning marches from all over the UK. To make things easier, we’ve written a guide which we’ll be progressively filling with tips and advice – organisation, logistics, press, and plenty more. The first march leaves from Land’s End on the 11th of March – once this has started, we’ll be able to write up the lessons we learn onto this guide.

If you’d like to get involved in Earth March but don’t know if it’s feasible, don’t worry! For those already in living in London, and for those a long way a way, we’ll be encouraging all XR UK members to join the last leg of the March as Earth Marchers enter London in time for the International Rebellion. Stay tuned for details on when and where as we get closer to April and London.

If you’re outside the UK and are interested in setting up an Earth March in your own country, please email earthmarch@protonmail.com for support.

 

Flyposting in London

See what fly-posting and leafleting is on in London over the coming days here. Any questions email xrflyeringlondon@gmail.com

If you’re not in London but would like advice on starting up your own fly-posting scene, please contact the same address.

 

Zero Hour – Young People’s Brief

Zero Hour is a US-based movement aiming to give greater prominence to young voices in the conversation on climate change; we’re filing an Amicus Brief for the Juliana v. United States Lawsuit and we are hoping to get 100,000 young people to sign their names onto it showing their support.

In 2015, 21 young people became plaintiffs in a case against the U.S. government. They filed the Constitutional climate lawsuit called Juliana v. United States. These 21 young men and women sued the government demanding action against climate change.

Zero Hour will file the Young People’s Brief with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals so that the Juliana Plaintiffs will be heard.

The Juliana Plaintiffs want to hold the US government accountable. The young people believe that the government’s affirmative action has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, while also failing to protect essential public trust resources.

We are launching a planetwide drive to get thousands of young people to add their names to a Young People’s Brief in support of the Juliana Plaintiffs. Over 25,000 people have signed their name so far.

Add your name to the brief here to be a part of history!

 

XR Seniors

A new group has been launched for XR seniors – for more information, please contact xr.seniors@gmail.com.

 

XR Blog

XR Blog seeks submissions on an ongoing basis, from rebels from all walks of life. Minimal writing experience is required. If you’re stuck for content we can provide a variety of writing briefs. Please contact us on xrblog@protonmail.com

 

Extreme Weather

According to a new report commissioned by Care International, the majority of humanitarian crises in the last year were caused by extreme weather. During 2018, as a result of extreme weather conditions, worldwide 5000 lives were lost and 29 million people were left in need of humanitarian aid and emergency assistance.

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Areas of the UK experienced the hottest February day. The Met Office recorded temperatures of 20.8°C at Porthmadog in Wales, 21.2°C at Kew Gardens in England and 18.3°C at Aboyne in Scotland. The new figures are the warmest on record for the UK at this time of year.

Australia’s summer smashes seasonal heat records – ‘Australia has posted its hottest summer and the first season in which temperatures exceeded two degrees above the long-term averages, according to the Bureau of Meteorology’ (no mention of climate change by the Sydney Morning Herald)

Apocalyptic scenes as Saddleworth Moor burns.

 

Latest News and Data

 

Cuadrilla loses planning appeal for second UK site

The Government has recently refused Cuadrilla’s application to open a second fracking site in Lancashire. This follows the company’s admission that commercial fracking is impossible in the UK unless rules on minor earthquakes are relaxed. The government has shown no interest in changing the regulations previously agreed upon by the fracking industry. We are extremely grateful to all those on the frontline of anti-fracking campaigns all over the country that have banjaxed the possibility of active fracking in the UK.

‘We need more bullets’

Shocking losses to wildlife and livestock in Queensland, Australia after seven years of drought are interrupted by freezing winds and ‘three years worth of rain in 10 days’. News.com report with upsetting images and no mention of climate change here.

“Disaster” as Indian Supreme Court orders eviction of “8 million” tribespeople

Survival International Director Stephen Corry: ‘This judgement is a death sentence for millions of tribal people in India, land theft on an epic scale, and a monumental injustice […] it will do nothing to save the forests which these tribespeople have protected for generations.’

Drax Can’t Grow Trees Fast Enough — Biomass is Not a Climate Solution

‘Drax often makes the misleading claim that they save over 80 percent of carbon emissions compared to coal. This is far from the truth, because it is not counting the emissions from combustion, which are 3 percent higher than burning coal’

New evidence linking mass strandings of beaked whales to military sonar

‘Scientists have long known that some beaked whales beach themselves and die in agony after exposure to naval sonar, and now they know why: the giant sea mammals suffer decompression sickness, just like scuba divers.’

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One of the wildest parts of Britain is under threat

Coul Links dunes, heath and wetlands on the Sutherland coast at risk from ‘high impact’ golf course development, compromising its ecological integrity.

Record-level earthquake in Newdigate, Surrey – calls for reopening of inquiry into links to oil industry

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First debate about global warming in the houses of parliament for two years. Heartwarming to see how much our elected representatives care about our future and that of the living world! h/t Andrew Harmer

Recommended Content

This is a really interesting graphic from the New York Times, showing what would happen to US CO2 emissions if they were to adopt seven ambitious climate change policies from around the world.

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New research on clouds, indicating that atmospheric CO2 concentrations of around 1200ppm can cause them to break up and lead to a dramatic tipping point where they no longer provide a cooling effect by shading the surface and reflecting heat back into space, leading to excess warming of up to 8°C. This might explain why earlier periods of rapid warming such as during the Eocene were much hotter than models otherwise would suggest. Not a cause for immediate concern at the current 410ppm, but a nightmare possibility if the dominant culture were to ‘massively expand coal use and eschew any climate mitigation’ until 2100. Longer report here – Ian

 

Victory For The Chagos Islanders as the International Court of Justice rules that the UK is ‘under an obligation to bring an end to its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible’. The UK foreign office is regarding it as ‘an advisory opinion, not a judgment’, and brazenly insists that the US military base on Diego Garcia is necessary ‘to protect people here in Britain and around the world from terrorist threats, organised crime and piracy’ (have they looked in the mirror lately?) This continues its longstanding policy of seeking any means to deny justice to the Chagossians, from antiquated Royal Prerogatives to a marine reserve deliberately designed to ‘prevent the resettlement’ of ‘Man Fridays’ on the islands. This was a cynical move to play environmentalists off against human rights supporters, because ‘the UK environmental lobby is far more powerful than the Chagossians’ advocates’ according to confidential cables published by Wikileaks in 2010. John Pilger (see opening link) and historian Mark Curtis are well worth checking out on this shameful story. Former diplomat Craig Murray will be commenting in depth on the ICJ judgement shortly but has this to say for now. Hopefully the Chagossians are now a step closer to establishing their right to return to the islands they were expelled from just over 50 years ago. – Ian

 

Regenerative Culture / Good News Stories

 

Following a speech by Greta Thunberg at the plenary session of the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker has pledged that a quarter of the EU’s budget will now go towards tackling Climate Change.

Wild Justice is a new organisation set up to take legal cases on behalf of wildlife against public bodies where they are failing to protect species and/or habitats. Wild Justice is working with legal teams in England and Scotland. Legal action will be funded by public donations and crowdfunding appeals. One of the founders, broadcaster and wildlife campaigner Chris Packham said ‘Wild. Justice. Because the wild needs justice more than ever before.’

Clothing firm Patagonia has made an additional $10 million in profits since President Trump slashed corporate tax rates in the US from 35% to 21% last year. But instead of ploughing these profits back into the business, the company has just announced it will be giving the money away to grassroots campaigns to fight against climate change.

 


 

Thank you for reading this, our 14th newsletter. There’s so much exciting stuff going on that we barely have time to write this sign-off. Keep up the good work! If you have any questions or queries, please get in touch at xr-newsletter@protonmail.com.

 

This newsletter was written collaboratively by a hivemind of 12 rebels.

 


 

As we enter this crucial and potentially final phase in human history, our Rebellion will need money to make sure our message is heard. Anything you can give is appreciated. Please visit our Fundrazr page.

Alternatively, standing orders or money transfers should be made to our Triodos Bank Account (Sort code: 16-58-10 Account No: 20737912) in the name of Compassionate Revolution Ltd (the holding company for Rising Up!).

Alternatively, if you’re a PayPal user (or more comfortable with PayPal), PayPal payments can be made to info@risingup.org.uk.

For queries contact Dave Nicks (dave.nicks@btinternet.com).

 

Youth of XR #2

My first protest

by Holly Errington, 14 years old

On Thursday February 21st, I went to my first ever protest; it was to influence and spread awareness about how Devon needs to become carbon neutral by 2030. I was excited yet nervous as I walked up to the old building where the event was taking place, I went with two other girls and two guys my age. When I arrived on the sunlight flooded field at midday, I finally realised the importance of the issues we are facing. We need to join together and do more to get our voices heard so that in years to come, our great grandchildren will be eternally grateful by the effort we put into saving their future. People of all ages were united. Families, teens, and the elderly. It was a beautiful experience to share with such passionate like-minded people. Everyone who was there had the same goal and wanted to work as a team to achieve it, which is a concept that is truly inspiring to me. It was amazing to meet so many interesting people from all different backgrounds. We chanted, we sang, and we stood our ground. I was asked to come to other protests in the area and I was also approached by many older people telling me well done for coming, because as a young person this decision will affect me the most. Seeing the colourful posters with encouraging messages only made me more determined to carry on this fight until the very end. The main symbol that got stuck in my mind that day was a timer. Climate change is something that will affect all of us, and I would desperately encourage you to go out and play your part, whether that be through protesting or something else. We can do this, but we need to act fast.

Picture by Lauren Fenton
February 21th, 2019

12 Years to Avoid Climate Catastrophe

by Lauren Fenton, 18 years old

In an age where news is filtered for entertainment and reality TV takes over our lives, it is easy to forget the real issues at hand. In November 2018, the largest and deadliest forest fire in California states record broke out, classed as the costliest disaster in the world, 2018; despite this, only 4% of networks broadcasted the disaster. On February 25th, 2019 the UK experience the hottest day in February on record, the BBC announced that if this doubling in temperature continued into the summer we could experience severe drought. These events and disasters are no coincidence, they have a direct link to our increasingly changing climate.                  

We are creating a positive feedback system:

We need to mitigate this feedback loop to prevent global warming from spiralling out of control.

The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has warned that we must cap temperature rise at 1.5 degrees C, which is classed as ‘the tipping point’, if exceeded the temperature will increase uncontrollably and we will be past the point of mitigation. If the climate warming exceeds 1.5 degrees C, the great barrier reef will be destroyed, droughts and hurricanes will become the norm and the melting of ice sheets will cause major flooding. During the summer months the arctic will experience an increase of 2.5 degrees C, the alps, already warming more than twice as fast as the rest of Europe, will cause annual droughts, as experienced in 2018. Furthermore, in the last decade 600 meters of glacial ice has been reduced in this region and it is predicted that by the end of the century, glaciers will disappear completely, leaving only a few in mountain summits.

We have the facts. We have the power. We will have climate justice

Works Cited:

ABC News (Australia). (2019, February 26th). Can we hack climate change to save us all? | Foreign Correspondent. Retrieved February 2019, from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZIC6hJ_fCE&t=1462s

Climeworks. (n.d.). About us. Retrieved February 28th , 2019, from Climeworks: http://www.climeworks.com/about/

Global News. (2019, Janurary 31st). Climate change: Why people aren’t taking more action to stop it? Retrieved February 2019, from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AV4BdgEIOLE

National Statistics. (2017). 2017 UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Retrieved February 28th, 2019, from GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/final-uk-greenhouse-gas-emissions-national-statistics-1990-2017

A Salute to the School Strikers

by Robert Alcock, Extinction Rebellion activist and father

You’ll have noticed that there’s never any shortage of grown-ups who are eager to tell you their opinions about whatever you happen to be doing. That’s especially true when tens of thousands of you—including my daughter, I’m proud to say—skip school to protest about the state your elders are leaving the planet in.

Quite a few “responsible” adults—as in “the ones who are responsible for the mess we’re in”—have made it clear they think the Climate Strike is really just an excuse to skip school. Well, duh! Obviously it’s much more fun and educational to be out in the streets changing the world than sitting in class being taught about it. You’ve written slogans and designed placards, organised with friends and debated with opponents, made appearances on TV and in social media, made new friends and bumped into old ones you had no idea were involved. Try fitting all that into a timetable and a lesson plan.

Theresa May had this to say about the School Strike: “…Disruption increases teachers’ workloads and wastes lesson time that teachers have carefully prepared for. That time is crucial for young people precisely so that they can develop into the top scientists, engineers and advocates that we need to help tackle this problem.”

Sorry, Theresa, but I’ll have to give you an F for that answer. This is a global ecological emergency! We need action NOW, not in 30 years’ time when a lucky few among today’s teenagers have managed to reach positions of power and influence. Anyway the vast majority of schools don’t give kids the kind of education they need to gain access to those positions. And the wise young people who were on the streets on Friday know full well that what’s needed today isn’t more technical solutions, but the political will to put the solutions we already have into practice, in a way that’s socially just and ecologically sustainable. No amount of studying is going to achieve that.

My educational journey

When it comes to the cost and value of formal education, I know what I’m talking about. I left school in 1988, the year the IPCC was founded; I studied science at university, graduating in 1992, the year of the Rio Earth Summit, went on to do a masters in ecology, then a PhD, studying the effects of climate change on rocky shore organisms.

In November 2002, the very same weekend I completed my fieldwork, the beautiful coast of northern Spain was devastated by the Prestige oil spill—the worst environmental disaster in Spain’s history—which covered the whole shore in a thick layer of toxic black fuel oil, poisoning the seaweed and shellfish I’d spent three years studying.

After all that, I still couldn’t get a job changing the world, so I had to do it on my own time, supporting myself as an writer, editor and translator while also building a house for my family—all skills that I learned mostly outside the formal education system.

Meanwhile, in those 30 years since I left school, the global economy has emitted more CO2 than it did during the whole of human history up to that point, and still shows no sign of slowing down, while ecosystems worldwide are on the point of collapse. If anyone had told me back then that we’d be in this predicament now, I think I would have done less studying and more protesting.

(But here we are.)

Unlike George Monbiot, I don’t feel inclined to apologise to your generation on behalf of my own for having fucked up the world. I’ve been doing what I can. Let everyone look to their own conscience.

But nor do I want to put the burden of the future entirely on your shoulders. Greta Thunberg has something to say about that: “It’s sometimes annoying when people say, ‘Oh you children, you young people are the hope. You will save the world.’ I think it would be helpful if you could help us just a little bit.”

Hearing you loud and clear, Greta. On behalf of the adults of Extinction Rebellion (XR)—and I think I’m safe in speaking for the whole movement here—I want to say to the school strikers: we’ve got your back. We’re here to help. We don’t want to take control of the Climate Strike, profit from it, or use it as part of our nefarious plot to take over the world (well, ok, maybe just a little bit ;-). You’ve done a great job so far, and it has to continue to be driven and organised by you, the young people. But we want to offer you our whole-hearted support to help the Climate Strike grow bigger and better every Friday, and make the next mass action, on Friday March 15th, absolutely impossible to ignore.

In a very practical sense, XR has a lot of resources that you can draw on. (Of course, we’re also aware of the safeguarding and legal issues around adults working with children and other vulnerable groups.) We can offer training and support in a load of different areas: media and messaging, legal advice, how to plan and cary out NVDA (non-violent direct action), how to facilitate meetings and assemblies, prevent burnout, resolve conflicts, and make sure we are all having a good time, how to make effective and beautiful graphics, signs, puppets, music… Really, pretty much everything your movement needs to grow and flourish, except your own passion, wisdom and dedication—and you already have that in abundance.

What about Monday morning?

It’s great that you’re out on the streets protesting on Fridays. I hope you keep it up and diversify what you do during the protests. Marching, waving banners and shouting slogans gets a bit boring after a while. How about holding (Young) People’s Assemblies to talk about the ecological emergency and what we should be doing about it? Extend the conversation you’ve started with your brilliant signs and slogans.

But I think what matters just as much is what you’re going to be doing Monday to Thursday. Many of you are about to go back to school after the half-term break: going from schooling adults in how to change the world, to having to ask to use the bathroom.

Despite the excellent intentions and efforts of many teachers, the vast majority of schools are simply not fit for purpose. They just aren’t set up to empower and inform the young people who are going to create a restorative future for Planet Earth. Rather, for the most part, they foster a culture of domination, disempowerment, passivity, and hopelessness: in fact, the culture at the root of the ecological crisis. The system persists through our resignation and acceptance. Systemic change is needed, starting where each of us is best placed to act. For you, that’s likely to be in your school.

The climate crisis is a great rallying point, though our predicament is a whole lot bigger than just the climate. From oceans to insects, forests to cities, health to justice, no aspect of life on Earth is untouched. You can create a student-led assembly to demand your school declare an climate emergency, and discuss what to do about it: whether that means planting a school forest, tackling air pollution, eliminating plastics, stopping the use of pesticides, sourcing healthy local food for school lunches or growing your own… or reaching out into your local communities. But at the same time, you’ll likely find yourselves talking about, and coming up with solutions for, a lot of other problems—from bullying to child poverty to boring lessons—once you start to see how they are all connected.

Three words to remember: NEVER. ASK. PERMISSION.

I don’t mean you should be rude or arrogant in your behaviour. Be respectful at all times—especially to your opponents; but make it clear that you’re going to do what you believe is right, whether those in power grant permission or not. Most adults will be on your side, even if they might be afraid to say so openly.

Another world is possible. See you there!

For the Earth,

Robert Alcock
Extinction Rebellion Edinburgh
@AbrazoHouse (twitter)

STANDING ROCK SPIRIT ON EVERY STREET CORNER

By Thanissara Weinberg

Being in a living prayer. The art of collective resistance; carrying forward the sacred flame of Great Spirit; honouring Mother Nature and Grandmother Earth. Taking to heart Seven Lakota Values and Guidelines.

 

Standing Rock was a training ground to resist the march of eco-destruction that is now triggering mass extinction and the collapse of human civilisation. Seasoned activists taught new comers, like me, how to withstand militarised police and private militia, clean out tear gas from tender eyes, treat rubber bullets; how to huddle together, to move as one, arms locked, to circle and protect the vulnerable and those targeted first, Indigenous and People of Colour. While a real stretch from my regular safe world, it made perfect sense within the context of our dystopian future that is fast arriving. Interlocking my arms awkwardly while in a clumsy shuffle, a moment of prescience flashed, we will all likely find ourselves at a “Standing Rock” before too long. Perhaps downtown on Main Street, at the shopping mall, outside a slaughter house, protecting a forest, at a fracking site, outside a bank, in any country, at any time, on any and at every street corner.

Two years after Standing Rock, at a climate protest in London, I was handed the bold green black Extinction Rebellion leaflet. For a split second I was back on those frozen lands of North Dakota. Of course, it made perfect sense. The spirit of Standing Rock was on the streets of London, was spreading around the globe through various forms of civil disobedience, protests, acts of challenge, and clear, brave words ringing out loud. The lines are drawn, internally and externally, and the fight for nature, for existence in all its astonishing diversity, is on. The question is what will be our response and contribution?

Standing Rock brought everything to utter simplicity. There was no money to exchange or things to buy, none of our usual café’s and eating houses, no central heating or sheltered houses. It ran on sharing, on appreciation for a shaft of sunlight, a cup of hot tea, a shared meal, the warmth of human connection, and the passionate struggle for life, for justice, for a different world that we know is possible.

Mni Wiconi –Water is Life. It is an immense thing to try and understand that we are about to pull over the great planetary cauldron of life, bubbling for billions of years, and spill it into the dust. “How has it come to this?” as King Théoden said at Helm’s Deep, just before riding out, straight into the grotesque and overwhelming army of terrifying Orcs. The odds of success are low, the power of those who destroy is enormous; the seduction of money and the desire to control everything is wired so profoundly into the brain, we hardly see its insidious mechanisms. However, there is another power that shone through with great brilliance at Standing Rock. The power of the spirit, of heart, of the collective, and of a learnt Indigenous history of what it means to survive centuries of extreme oppression while keeping the sacred fire alive.

Standing Rock is an Indigenous led resistance through the power of collective prayer and ceremony. Its context is the 500-year long impact of Colonialism on First Nation People, which inflicted one of the largest genocides in human history, alongside mass invasion of Native lands, a litany of broken treaties, legislated cultural oppression including removal of children through forced Christianised education at boarding “schools”, and on-going marginalisation of Indigenous rights. This generational domination remains firmly in place illustrated by the State of North Dakota attempting to force, through intimidation and violence, the Sioux Tribe to accept what white society, a few dozen miles upriver at Bismarck city, rejected; the Dakota Pipeline through the heart of their community.

The assurance of Energy Transfers Partnership, who laid the pipeline, that there will not be an oil spill into the Missouri River, which the pipeline traverses, are empty given that that there have been hundreds, if not thousands of pipeline spills, including those from ETP pipelines. In the fierce confrontation that unfolded, Standing Rock also became a learning ground for Energy Companies who are now ramping up their strategies with more violent and insidious tactics.

Standing Rock, one of the most unique gatherings ever, also was a front line against the most powerful corporation ever, the Oil Industry. It was the first time, since the Battle of Little Bighorn in the 1800’s that Seven Lakota and Dakota Nations came together, alongside over 30 other Indigenous Nations. This gathering of Indigenous Nations from all over Turtle Island (the Native name for America) has not been known in historical memory. The tribes represented were joined by First Nation peoples from South America, New Zealand, and beyond, and allies from around America and further afield. Over two thousand military veterans who vowed to protect this courageous and determined community also joined up.

At the heart of this resistance is a commitment to break the cycles of violence born of a colonial mind-set, which feels entitled to extract for self-benefit regardless of the impact. This mind-set is now the front line everywhere, within and around us all. Increasingly, our choices are influenced by a colonising, psychopathic corporate agenda servicing extortionate amounts of wealth for a tiny percentage of the global population (26 people now own as much as 50% of the world’s poorest). But we can also make different choices. Mindful choices that aid a necessary resistance upon which our survival now depends. At its core, Standing Rock rooted itself in an indigenous template for wise choice informed by seven Lakota values around which the community orientated itself. These values speak to collective resistance as both an inner training as well as guidelines for family, community, society, and business. This is how I heard them.

1. Prayer: Honour and respect the sacred within all life, which includes nature, the earth, the elements of fire, water, air, and those living beings that are not two legged. (The reductive term animals is not in indigenous language, instead the term ‘our relatives’ is used.) Purify the heart, connect with ancestors, and the overall indwelling spirit of creation while aligning within community through ceremony. This involves resistance as ceremony.

2. Respect: Respect begins with deferential listening, and from that, a willingness to shift into new ways internally and behaviour externally. It means not pushing ego agendas and strategies. Instead be willing to listen to wise elders, to feedback, to what is needed for the overall good of the community.

3. Compassion: Take care of one another. Be compassionate towards ones self, and to self and others when making mistakes. The stronger let the physically weaker go first, for example, at meals, the elders, women and children go first. As a practice, step aside from assuming entitlement due to race, gender, class, wealth, and instead tune into the needs of the marginalised and vulnerable.

4. Honesty: Be true and authentic with each other, while being self honest about our conditioning and how that plays out in ways that generate harm, even subtly, to others and the environment.

5. Generosity: Put in more than you take out. Generosity is not just sharing physical goods, but is essential to generating sustainable life for all. It is the direct opposite of colonisation, which is based in domination and ownership at the expense of others.

6. Humility: Be grounded in your own being, while checking your expectations of others and what is around you. Hold off from pushing your agenda, particularly if it is dominating the space with “I have a better way” or “My idea is best.” Be sensitive to internalised colonised conditioning, and be willing to own it.

7. Wisdom: We all carry wisdom within us, but within the context of Indigenous or Elder wisdom spaces, listen and be guided by the understandings offered. Resist an “extractive” mind-set, or cultural appropriation of what is not offered. Be respectful of elders and learn to listen to all voices, even those you don’t agree with.

Bring it Home! Not everyone can get to Standing Rock, and not everyone at Standing Rock can go on the front lines. But every one of us must now pay heed to what unfolded there, because we all need to play our part to ensure a liveable planet for future generations. We are on a precipice and the lights are going out. We are losing the Arctic, the Great Barrier Reef, the great forests, most wild life, and we are being threatened by a craven political and corporate agenda that cares for no one, except it’s own profit. Those who crave money will find out soon that they cannot eat their money. But, as said the Elders, those at Standing Rock stand for them too, and for their children and their grandchildren.

At the heart of this sacred, prayerful and ceremonial resistance at Standing Rock is a commitment to complete non-violence. My understanding of this, from what I witnessed, heard, and experienced, is that there is an invitation to align with a deeper power. This power, articulated as guidance of ancestors, forces of nature, and the overall guiding intelligence of the Great Spirit, pulses within us. At Standing Rock, the heart was stripped down to its essential rawness. In place of socialisation strategies, what arose was strength of authenticity, of sharing, of camaraderie, and a wonder at the resilience of human beings rising up.

Here’s what I heard from an Indigenous man who is a Water Protector and leader of the heart and spirit.

What should be remembered about Standing Rock is that it began with children calling us to pray with them. Elders too. We must mean and do what we say. Fighting from violence disrespects the ancestors. The ancestors are fighting the battle also, and they need us to be here without violence. You must pray for yourself, to take out your pain and have love put in your heart instead. As we unify with nature, she will heal us. Respect Mother Earth.

He also said,

One day, at the height of the Iraq War, an Elder Grandmother prayed to the ancestors at the sacred fire to ask that the war stop. They responded by saying to her that her prayer was a good prayer, but it was not enough. That everyone must pray to stop war. We are at a precipice. Everyone must now pray.

Water is Life. This meme is the underlying stream of consciousness at Standing Rock. The pipeline threatens the clear and beautiful waters of the Missouri River. Every morning, as day broke with its icy chill, the pre-dawn circle around the sacred fire, buoyed by shared wisdom from Elders and water protectors, enacted a ceremonial and collective walk to the frozen bank of the river. There, offerings are made. Sometimes we saw formations of geese fly across the limpid snow grey sky over the still glass waters and sometimes we felt spirit of the Missouri respond. It was felt as a subtle jubilant uplift within the heart. This earth is alive and she feels our intentions, our actions, and our hearts. The evocative experience of this living prayer was an invitation for us all to reclaim a sacred relationship to water, air, earth, fire, and to be attentive to our indwelling consciousness.

Everyday we use water. We depend on it for life, and yet we entirely take it for granted. One late afternoon, a woman spoke at the sacred circle fire. She had come from Flint, Michigan to join forces. She spoke of poisoned water in her city, of people drinking and having their teeth dissolve, of people getting sick, dying, and of her own infertility and pain at not being able to mother children due to the poisoned water.

Standing Rock is not just about Standing Rock. It is about everywhere and our struggle to reclaim the sacredness of water, of the elements, and of Grandmother Earth. It speaks to our need to reconnect with each other in more direct, generous, authentic and respectful ways, and it speaks to our true spirit, which seeks to release from the mechanistic, disassociated, drudgery of a desacralised life by undertaking acts of loving service and sacrifice. We do this for all of us. Chief Arvol Looking Horse asked us to join together at Standing Rock in prayer and ceremony. To do so can help to help avert our catastrophe. We must continue to honour his request.

chiefarvollookinghorse

Standing Rock and its blazing heart lives on, through the voluminous, potent seeds that were planted long ago, as I was told, by the ancestors of that very land who knew these times would come. The seeds are now fast growing as collective resistance. The Indigenous People are showing the way, as have many oppressed people throughout history, and for this, words of gratitude seem paltry. The gift of Standing Rock bequeathed a clarified, strong, heart burning with a light of commitment and passion in the face of such wanton destruction, hate, and ignorance. This then, is our offering of gratitude. To pick up that flame of hope, and to carry it long into the shadowy night that is fast circling us all.

Internal newsletter 3

Hi all,

The build-up to April is underway. With the swarming of Fashion Week, and a whole range of regional actions including street parties in London and Bristol, Extinction Rebellion is re-entering mainstream consciousness. This return will be made official in a large-scale media briefing this Tuesday (see ‘Press’ for details), when we will announce our upcoming plans to the general public.

As we enter ‘Phase 2’, it’s only fitting that XR London should be moving into a new office. After weeks of anticipation, the necessary papers have at last been signed and we’ve been told to expect just a few days more anticipation before receiving the keys.

But there’s plenty more to anticipate: the Spring Uprising has been confirmed and will be happening on March the 16th, we’ll be mass fly-posting by the end of that month, while plans for April just got even more exciting with a March for Life.

More immediately, our next big event is coming this Friday at the Department for Education; but those who can’t make it to this – or who just can’t wait to start pressuring the government into action on climate – will be happy to find a new group aiming to use collective complaints to improve the BBC’s coverage of ecological catastrophe.

It looks like an exciting few months!

Internal news

Actions, Art and Logistics

Actions

After successful actions at Fashion Week this Sunday, and a street party in Hackney last weekend, the actions team is now preparing for this Friday’s event outside the Department for Education. Detailed plans are also being made for the Blood of Our Children event on the 9th of March.

Art

Art dept have been busy as usual!

  • Working on new lino cuts, and new artworks for the next round of flags, banners and placards.
  • Special edition artworks for London Fashion week including fashion ad hijacks.
  • A new Performance focussed working group has formed, hatching plans for ‘a breathtaking street presence’ for April.
  • Rolling out workshops in art schools where clothing is printed and placards are made alongside a talk on rebellion.
  • Sourcing reclaimed fabrics for future autonomous art factories of the future, check out the prototype from last autumn here,
  • Working on the new website.

 

M&M

Social media

  • We’ve passed 60k followers on Facebook, over 30k on Instagram, and are nearly at 50k on Twitter – thanks for your support!
  • NEW EVENT UP! We’re kick-starting the callout for a worldwide week of MASS FLYPOSTING to tell the truth on the climate emergency and ecological collapse, starting from March 30th in the leadup to International Rebellion.
  • Over 7,500 Rebels are already listed as Going or Interested to the Facebook event
  • for International Rebellion event starting April 15th!

Press

The press team has been busy covering recent actions, while also preparing for a large-scale media briefing on Tuesday the 26th, similar to a successful briefing held by us in November. During this we will present our strategy for April along with details of planned events. We are also working on a features strategy to ensure more coverage independent of actions.

Spokes and Notables circle

We have notables supporting us from the academic/ scientific /conservation/political communities and the mainstream celebrity communities. We are also starting to reach out to influencers in the local communities. The normal people who are doing extraordinary things and inspiring others to take action. We are currently planning an event in North Wales on April the 8th. The world class climber James McHaffie will be naming a new climb after XR , this will be a route never before attempted and will be known henceforth to the climbing world as the Extinction Rebellion climb. He will also be hoisting a huge banner. Please come along and offer support and use social media to share this event. Multi award winning National Geographic contracted photographer and conservationist Ami Vitale and Emmy winning filmmaker/ecologist Chris Morgan are also supporting the climb.

We will give directions to the exact locations at a later date. If anyone has any direct links to any celebrities or influencers who are passionate about the environment please contact us at xrnotables@gmail.com.

Blog

A subgroup of XR Blog has been formed: !XRWINS! (Writers’ International Networks). The purpose of !XRWINS! is to create a spider’s web of back-links across the net by approaching a large number and diversity of individual websites to feature a small diplomatic statement about XR in the context of the toxic media and democratisation of the net, along with clickable links back to xrebellion.org, rebellion.earth and xrblog.org. Media and Messaging WG will be consulted on the content of this statement, which within months we intend to see all over the net.

 

Regen

The London Regen group had a fantastic discussion at the weekly Wednesday meeting in response to the question of ‘Why does our group exist? Why regenerative culture? And what does that mean for our activities as a group?’ The following text has been stitched together from the minutes of that meeting:

Regenerative culture breaks away from the mainstream, depletive culture that is driving the ecological disaster. A rebellion of culture against our sick society. Let’s make time for embodiment. For connection. Deep connection. With the Earth, with each other and with ourselves. We must balance the urgency of our task with the pertinence of each present moment. Each soul with which we share this task.

The coming together of LIFE. ‘A depth of Wellness’. Avoiding blame. Community. Libraries. Reaching out. Breaking through the dismal spectacle of our society. Rippling out. Calmness and kindness – revitalising and refreshing. An Antidote to alienation and individualism. Harmony. Beauty. Balance.

Land Respite

With the idea gathering momentum of marching on London from all quarters of the UK, Land and Respite is looking to provide some of the accommodation needs for marchers / walkers. This can be via Open Homes (private XR households) or land-based projects (eco-projects).

As marchers accumulate towards London the demand for accommodation will increase, so we particularly seek hosts to get in touch with us clustered within a thirty mile radius of the city. However please be clear that we are not organising any accommodation for activists during actions. This is the remit of a separate WG. Our remit is ‘before and after’. Write to xr-landandrespite@protonmail.com We have taken on extra admin capacity ready for an influx of offers from hosts. We have 50 so far, but at least 500 by mid-April, including 300 clustered around the city, is our aim.

Open Homes can double up as casual sofa-surfing hosts by arrangement for XR activists travelling around the country. See the map of current hosts here.

 

Legal

The XR Legal Support Team continues to support arrestees and defendants; we are also working on legal strategy that can be presented in court. Furthermore, we are gearing up for upcoming actions by preparing easy to read information sheet for potential arrestees. Please contact xr-legal@riseup.net if you have been arrested but haven’t heard from us yet.

 

Talks and Trainings

Rather excitingly, we have a new team of professional meeting facilitators working on an XR facilitation training which we will hopefully start to deliver in local XR groups by the end of February. If you’re a facilitator and would like to help us deliver these trainings, please get in touch with xr.talks.trainings@gmail.com .

Furthermore, speaker trainings on how to do the Heading for Extinction talk have been arranged in London, Oxford, Cambridge, Newcastle, Sheffield, and Birmingham for the coming weeks. Get in touch with the local coordinators if you would like to attend one of them.

 

Communities

Regional Development

Our team is growing and working well with the Intergration team in developing an efficient and thorough process for new groups to follow and then to become connected to their local xr network. Please send any new groups you become aware of to xr-regionaldevelopment@protonmail.com

We have been struggling to cover all areas of the UK with Regional Coordinators, especially in the midlands and the north of England. We need local coordinators who have a good view of the XR landscape of their region to join our working group.

Integration

The integration team have put together a Rebel Starter Pack for new members. This is part of a developing induction process that includes regular online Intro to XR sessions and weekly Working Group Integration sessions to bring people into UK working groups. An outline of this new process along with links to sign up to new sessions can be found on page 11 of the Rebel Starter Pack.

Newsletters

The newsletter team has been growing a lot, and is currently plotting a survey which should allow us to better understand what our readers value in what we produce. Related to this, we’re also considering a radical restructuring of our format to become more user-friendly. We sent out issue 13 last night; you can find it here. If you or your Working Group would like to feature an announcement in a future issue, please email xr-newsletter@protonmail.com.

Conflicting demands have hindered the author of the internal newsletter in the creation of this issue – he’s sorry about that, and grateful to all the working group contributors.

Tech

The Tech team have just recruited a bunch of new members and are making moves to become more visible within XR. Recently they have been working on a new website, potential technologies for ticketing and are currently in the process of overhauling the Basecamp structure and documentation to ease the onslaught of notifications and improve communication links within the movement.

Festivals

The Festivals Working Group have been active now since the end of December to create a range of festival offerings to create maximum impact & movement-building opportunities throughout the summer. Most of the festivals we are applying to will have an info stall as a focal point for roving engagement teams, plus a speaker slot(s) if there is an available platform, and will be staffed by our Local Group network. We also have our ‘Rebel Rebel’ offering comprising a bespoke, professional grouping of tented areas to create a versatile platform for talks, trainings, engagement activities & music. This is being targeted at key festivals such as Glastonbury, Shambala & Blue Dot, and will utilise volunteers from within the movement to create a vibrant, colourful & dynamic presence to help raise the profile of XR. More info in the next issue 😉

 

International Support

The international support team are setting up teams of regional liaisons to coordinate communication across different geographical areas in order to decentralise the international rebellion and we are looking for people who want to take on supporting the rebellion internationally through these roles. More information can be found here.

We have a support network to help new national groups setting up and if you have any questions or would like to get hold of us then send an email to xr-international@protonmail.com

 

Finance and Fundraising

We reached £10,000 for our 2019 crowdfunder: https://fundrazr.com/Global_XR

This needs everyone’s help sharing to help us reach the £250k we need for April’s rebellion.

 

Political Strategy

Citizens Assembly for the Climate Emergency

The Citizens Assembly for the Climate Emergency (CACE) working group were advised that the best way to approach the Government to form a Citizens Assembly is to argue that the CA can solve a problem the Gov’t are not able to themselves.

They have planned another webinar to explain citizens assemblies, agreed text describing citizens assemblies for the XR website and adjusted their mandate to reflect the need to lobby Gov’t for CACE, by both XR membership generally (for which a template letter is being drafted) and through a point of direct contact with MP’s. As such, the XR CACE working group ask that someone capable of fulfilling that role can join their team.

 

Self Organising System

The SOS team have been creating new ways for the XR Organism to work in the holacracy inspired principles of autonomy and decision making. For a full reference of this, please check out our new Self Organising System document (shorter version here). We have also been working to build on the structure of XR UK which you can check out here. At the moment this structure isn’t fixed- its all a work in progress to make sure we can start to set up an airtight, constitutional organisation by the time April 15th rolls around.

We had meetings with Movement, Actions and Political circle coordinators last week and are organising an Anchor circle meeting for this week. These meeting will be all be publicly available to watch afterwards and should be available to join as silent witnesses in the future.

Need to know who to get in touch with? Check out the XR Organism spreadsheet.

Please make sure you send us all the key documents and videos for your group to add to this spreadsheet. Info on how to do this here.

If you need help setting up the SOS system in your group please get in touch.

SOS out!

Photo: Hackney Street Party, February 9th

General Climate News

The Institute for Public Policy Research published a report last Wednesday condemning the lack of policy response to now ‘critical’ levels of climatic change and its ‘catastrophic outcomes’. Following this – and XR protests at fashion week – the Environmental Audit Committee released a report calling for fashion retailers to ‘take responsibility’ for their waste. Further research on insect decline made available in the journal Biological Conservation calls for an urgent rethinking of global agricultural practices.

In better news, 15,000 UK pupils walked out of schools on Friday, following Greta Thunberg’s example. Shale fracking firm Cuadrilla lost their second planning application in Lancashire, albeit due to traffic complaints. Lastly, Hornsea One offshore windfarm will start to supply this week and is set to be the largest of its kind when completed.

 

Briefing – Collective action vs. individual action

 

This week, Louisa Goodfellow discusses the notorious ‘collective vs individual’ framing of ecological action.

A commonly cited theory surrounding the ‘individual vs. collective’ is that of the Prisoners’ Dilemma; that two prisoners in solitary confinement inform on each other to lessen their sentence, resulting in both sentences being increased. It is applied in this context as an unwillingness to act if others are not, the consequences of which being a worsened situation for all. However, most research suggests we act as a result of socio-political norms and principles, not in solitary confinement.

Writing in the Guardian, Martin Lukacs argues that pervasive neo-liberalist ideals have led us to believe in individual climate mitigation, whereas the only solution is collective action against corporate institutions. Pervasive Thatcherite privatisation, de-regulation and tax cuts have created an environment in which 100 corporations emit 71% of global CO2 emissions. This doctrine of individualist consumption has perhaps been prioritised within environmental advocacy in recent years (‘Think global, act local’) – emphasizing independent lifestyle choices, when compared with the public outcry concerning pesticides in the 60’s post ‘Silent Spring’, for instance.

The 2009 pre-COP15 rally 350.org co-ordinated 181 simultaneous protests, perhaps the largest collaborative protest in history. More recently, outcry that 8 million plastics are annually dumped in the oceans in a campaign spearheaded David Attenborough has certainly pervaded the public consciousness. But pledges by firms to reduce single use plastics and increase R&D into recycling will be another example of private greenwashing unless there is continued and wilful civil impetus for an overhaul of practice.

This case and many others proves that mass remonstration can be significantly impactful. However, as Elizabeth Wainwright reasons, rejecting the ‘individual vs. collective’ dichotomy altogether will allow a celebration of individual stories and strengths, whilst ‘tackling the corporate powers collectively’. This reframing might be seen an important part of XR’s recent successes: seeking to collectively mobilize enough of the population in a democratic, de-centralized network to challenge socio-political norms, whilst not precluding individual action and responses.

To tackle the global, diffuse damage of environmental change an individualist approach cannot work. But an individual action will make a small difference and influence collective decision making. Therefore it stands to reason that much-needed cooperative global grassroots movements, comprising of individuals, will be integral to effectively challenge damaging economic and social institutions.