The International Rebellion continues – Statement following meeting with Michael Gove

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NEW – What emergency? https://rebellion.earth/the-truth/the-emergency/  


  • The meeting showed why Extinction Rebellion protesters have been out on the street raising the alarm about the climate and ecological emergency we are facing. Michael Gove is committing “a moral and political failure” by not declaring a climate emergency
  • The meeting ended without the promise of concrete action that Extinction Rebellion had requested of Michael Gove
  • At 4.30pm members of Extinction Rebellion Families will be at the Treasury with their children, whose future hangs in the balance as a result of the decisions the Government makes now

“I’m frustrated that he [Michael Gove] avoided our demands and just spoke about what they’re already doing. Until our demands are met the rebellion has to continue” said Felix Ottaway O’Mahony, 14, secondary school student and member of XR Youth, who was in the room with Michael Gove with the other representatives from Extinction Rebellion.

“It was less shit than I thought it would be, but only mildly,” said Clare Farrell of Extinction Rebellion who was also in the room: “I was surprised to hear a radical reflection on our economic paradigm from Michael Gove when he talked about how our model is extractive and destructive – and that we need to move to a circular model. And that similarly a debt based economy doesn’t do right by young people, that it is creating a huge debt for them and that it has to change.

“Unfortunately what failed to emerge was an actual way forward. I’d like to remind him that we have a 1 percent chance of hitting 1.5 degrees – that urgency wasn’t in the room.”

“The game seems to be up that the UK is a leader on climate change, the reality is we are just not”  Rupert Read, 53, Professor of Environmental Philosophy and member of the Political Strategy Team

On 31 October last year, Extinction Rebellion declared a rebellion against the UK Government due to its criminal inaction on the ecological and climate emergency. Since then, more than 1,300 people have been arrested in the UK alone raising the alarm on this cause.

Unfortunately, today’s meeting with Michael Gove – Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs at DEFRA – proved to be ‘disappointing’. Also in attendance were Lord Randall, former member of Environment Sub-Committee, Minister Jenrick, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury and Richard Benwell, policy advisor.

We feel that Michael has missed a moment, a moment where Britain could have begun its first step telling the truth and acting on it.

Extinction Rebellion representatives challenged Michael on the Government’s track-record on climate change and his party’s lack of action in declaring a climate and ecological emergency. Extinction Rebellion sought specific action from Michael, inviting him to join cross-party talks with youth activists and others – asking him to commit DEFRA to declaring a climate and ecological emergency.

The meeting ended without the promise of concrete action that Extinction Rebellion had requested of Michael Gove. Michael did however commit to discussing a Citizen’s Assembly with Sadiq Khan, but this is not enough.

Sam Knights of Extinction Rebellion said: “Theresa May has so far refused to participate in cross-party discussion on climate breakdown, so it is really significant that Michael Gove today agreed to reach out to Sadiq Khan and cooperate on this issue. He also agreed to meet us again within a month so that we can hold him to account and continue exerting pressure on our political class. We welcome these steps.”


The meeting showed why Extinction Rebellion protesters have been out on the street raising the alarm about the climate and ecological emergency we are facing. Michael Gove is committing “a moral and political failure” by not declaring a climate emergency.

Gove claimed the need for agreement across Government before he will declare a climate emergency. This is out of step with the two-thirds of the British public who believe we are in the midst of a climate emergency [1]

There was acceptance from everyone in the room that UK is not a world leader on climate.

Extinction Rebellion looks forward to cross-party engagement between London Mayor and Government. Michael has committed to a further meeting with Extinction Rebellion in one month’s time and we keep pushing him to make progress.

Extinction Rebellion are calling on people to “write to their MPs and flood their offices”. More meetings will be set up, so political conversation will continue.

Until then, the International Rebellion will continue.

Michael Gove’s voting record on environmental issues precedes him: between 2008 -2016, Gove voted 12 times AGAINST measures to prevent climate change, was absent for 11 votes and cast just 5 votes in favour. [2]

Guidance from the Movement

Prior to the meeting, Extinction Rebellion surveyed its members via the Action Network to find out what the movement wanted to come out of the meeting. A huge number of members – nearly 6000 – responded to the survey:

  • 54% of the movement said that a declaration of climate and ecological emergency by DEFRA was the single most important thing that could come out of this meeting.
  • 42% said the most wanted to see Gove agree to take our three demands to the Cabinet
  • 66% said that ending fossil fuel subsidies is the single most important thing Government can do in the face of the Climate Emergency, followed by 14% for ending fracking and 7% for cancelling Heathrow expansion.

4.30pm Extinction Rebellion Families at The Treasury – End fossil fuel subsidies to give our children a future

Following Extinction Rebellion’s glue-on action last week at the Treasury, Extinction Rebellion Families will be returning at 4.30pm on Tuesday 30th April with their children to show the Treasury whose future hangs in the balance as a result of its decisions.

They say: “As politicians start to meet Extinction Rebellion, this is a crucial moment for our voices to be heard. It is outrageous that despite the UK Government claiming to be a leader on climate change, it is still giving tax breaks worth billions of pounds to oil and gas companies.

“There are not enough people in government taking climate change and species extinction seriously. That is why we, as ordinary citizens, have decided to bring our children to Westminster after school to demand that our taxes are no longer used to help oil and gas companies extract more deadly fossil fuels. These subsidies reinforce a toxic web of fossil fuel infrastructure that keeps us addicted to oil and gas; an addiction which leads to 40,000 early deaths a year through air pollution, not to mention climate breakdown.

“Ministers repeatedly hold their hands up in horror about air pollution but have so far taken no responsibility for their role in reinforcing its causes.

“Our taxes should be used to create a healthy society for our children to grow up in. The Treasury should be investing our taxes in renewable energy, public transport and the short-term replacement of all diesel and petrol vehicles.”

Notes to editors

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/apr/30/two-thirds-of-britons-agree-planet-is-in-a-climate-emergency

[2] Gove’s has generally votes against measures to prevent climate change and has voted against financial incentives for low carbon emission electricity generation methods

https://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/11858/michael_gove/surrey_heath/votes

[2] Representatives of Extinction Rebellion who attended the meeting were:

  • Felix Ottaway O’Mahony, 14, secondary school student and member of XR Youth
  • Sam Knights, 22, writer and recent graduate, member of the Political Strategy Team and the Media and Messaging Team
  • Clare Farrell, 36, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion and lecturer on Sustainable Fashion, coordinator of the Art Team and sits on the Action Strategy Team
  • Rupert Read, 53, Professor of Environmental Philosophy and member of the Political Strategy Team
  • Farhana Yamin, 54, climate change lawyer and former lead author of the IPCC, coordinator of the Political Strategy Team and experienced UN negotiator.

[2]  Currently the government supports fossil fuels with over £10 billion of taxpayers money, significantly more than the £7 billion spent on renewables. Despite the government’s pledges in the 2019 Spring Statement regarding “clean growth”, the UK still has the largest fossil fuel subsidies in the EU.

(UK has biggest fossil fuel subsidies in the EU, finds commission / The Guardian, 23 January 2019)

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jan/23/uk-has-biggest-fossil-fuel-subsidies-in-the-eu-finds-commission

[3] As part of its ongoing support to the fossil fuel sector the government has put in place a scheme to provide £24 billion for tax relief for oil and gas companies to remove wells, rigs and pipelines in the North Sea. This figure could increase significantly as companies may not meet the costs of decommissioning.

(Taxpayers likely to pay £24 billion for scrapping oil rigs / (Financial Times, 25 January 2019)

https://www.ft.com/content/8670e752-1fe7-11e9-b126-46fc3ad87c65

[4] Despite losing three court cases the UK government has failed to act on the causes of air pollution.

(Government loses clean air court case / BBC, 21 February 2018)

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-43141467

About Extinction Rebellion:

Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction and abrupt, runaway climate change. Societal collapse and mass death are seen as inevitable by scientists and other credible voices, with human extinction also a possibility, if rapid action is not taken.

Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.

Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:

  1. Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
  2. Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
  3. Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

UK website: https://rebellion.earth/

International website: https://xrebellion.org/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ExtinctionRebellion/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ExtinctionR hashtag #ExtinctionRebellion

Declaration of Rebellion: https://rebellion.earth/declaration/

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About Rising Up!

Extinction Rebellion is an initiative of the Rising Up! network, which promotes a fundamental change of our political and economic system to one which maximises well-being and minimises harm. Change needs to be nurtured in a culture of reverence, gratitude and inclusion; whilst the tools of civil disobedience and direct action are used to express our collective power.

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