Newsletter 20 – Parliament meets our First Demand…well almost.
May 03, 2019 by Newsletter team
Welcome back to the newsletter! It’s been an unbelievable few weeks since our last official issue. Since April 15 we’ve been doing our best to keep up with the blistering pace of events in our daily updates, but from now it’s back to regular service – we hope you like our 20th newsletter!
Before anything else, we’d like to extend a heartfelt welcome to the many ‘green’ rebels who’ve joined us recently. A feature common to the many actions below has been seasoned rebels (by now pretty tired!) receiving invaluable support – be it emotional, technical or numerical – from fresh new colleagues.
It might not make headlines, but this vibrant new energy could be among the past few weeks’ most important developments: local XR branches across the UK are reporting double or triple attendance (Bristol, for example, rocketing from 140 to 300!) London actions are implausibly well-peopled, and this newsletter is reaching twice the number of readers!
There’s plenty of more obvious good news, though – most prominently Parliament’s declaration of climate and environment emergency. The preceding debate seemed almost self-evident – of course politicians would be taking such an urgent matter seriously – but even months ago it was a very different picture. Eagle-eared rebels will also have noted an influx of XR-related themes and language, from the declaration’s ‘and environment’ to the building talk of Citizens’ Assemblies. Make no mistake – this would not have happened without us.
Before we scuttle the Pink Boat and cross Demand One off our list, a note of caution: Parliament may have followed the lead of Scotland and Wales, but the UK government at large is still a long way short of ‘telling the truth’. We’re not done yet.
All the better, then, that in the preceding week we’ve been meeting with high-level government officials (see below), which also makes now an unusually good time to pile in with petitions. At the same time we’ve been showing off our stamina and keeping up the pressure with actions all over London, from swarming in the City to supporting the amazing Colne Valley protesters (also see below).
For all the excitement, there’s now a general move towards a regenerative, resting phase: the London office is almost empty in evenings (beyond the odd newsletter-writer!), and set to remain quiet through next week. This very much applies for the Media and Messaging team, who are under strict orders to take it easy. It’s with this in mind that we’re happy to bring you another bumper crop of regen resources: for arrestees, for people who’d like to show some love to arrestees, and indeed for everyone.
Not that it’s all quiet: even as many in XR UK get ready to rest, XR at large remains seriously active. The weekend saw simultaneous mass die-ins led by XR Berlin and joined by thousands of rebels across over fifteen countries, with yet more international actions in the course of the week. Upcoming international antics include an International Mother’s Day March and a Global Strike for Future (see below).
As the dust settles and the fumes rise again, it’s clear that we’re in a new chapter of XR’s incredible journey. If you’d like to get more involved, please check out our simple guide. If you can’t spare time, but can donate money instead, please see our fundraiser page.
You can check out upcoming events on our website here. Or create your own event by filling in our talks and trainings form!
For previous newsletter issues, please see here – or for the story of the International Rebellion as told in our updates, see here.
- Political Progress
- Recent Activity
- Upcoming Activity
- Act now
- International Highlights
- News & Recommended Content
Last night, the UK parliament voted unanimously to declare a climate emergency – the first country in the world to do so. Thanks to some exquisite acts of sustained mass disruption in London, across the UK, and around the world, along with the sterling efforts of the Youth Climate Strikers, Greta Thunberg, and David Attenborough, the oncoming environmental apocalypse is coursing through the public and political consciousness.
A recent poll commissioned by Greenpeace found that two-thirds of people in the UK now recognise there is a climate emergency and over three quarters say that they would cast their vote differently to protect the planet. We now need to build on this historic decision and maintain momentum to ensure that our other demands are met and that we continue to hold our lawmakers to account.
LONDON MAYOR SADIQ KHAN
Three members of the XR Political Strategy team were welcomed into the Mayor’s office this week for an hour and a half meeting wherein Mayor Sadiq Khan agreed to explore the idea of a Citizens’ Assembly for Londoners. Though Mayor Khan had already declared a climate and ecological emergency in December at the behest of the London Assembly, following November’s Bridge Rebellion, he showed a more censorious reaction to the recent 11 day London Rebellion. His demand that the capital should return to “business as usual” resulted in quite the Twitter storm. In this week’s meeting, he conceded he needed to do more to champion action on climate change both in London and on the world stage. Welcome words then, but as yet, no radical actions. Both sides described the talks as “positive” and discussions are set to continue.
BBC report here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZNTJDFyArQ
JOHN MCDONNELL MP
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer John McDonnell was the latest in a line of high-profile Labour MPs to show solidarity with XR, whether that be via supportive speeches in Parliament, meeting rebels on the streets, or writing positive opinion pieces in the press.
In the meeting, McDonnell acknowledged how previous Labour environmental policy had failed to meet the vast challenges ahead, and promised to set up a series of follow-on meetings where XR could present core demands to the entire Shadow Cabinet, the Shadow Environment Committee, and the Shadow Treasury Team. Three XR representatives, which included a delegate from XR Youth, also met with Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Environment Secretary Sue Hayman to discuss the imminent ‘climate emergency’ motion.
While neither John McDonnell nor Jeremy Corbyn would commit to changing the proposed date in the motion, which aims to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, McDonnell did agree to consider a new target of 2030.
Again, the XR representatives felt the meeting was positive and their demands were heard, but other than the promise of further meetings, not much ground was won.
MICHAEL GOVE MP
The third and final door for our representatives to knock was the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Two days after the government’s shale gas commissioner resigned in frustration (probably not helped by our disruption of an event where she was speaking) the Environment Secretary Michael Gove, flanked by Government ministers from other departments including the Treasury, welcomed XR.
In any other situation, a man of Gove’s background and voting habits might be applauded for meeting with activists fresh from an eleven day blockade of the capital, but when the topic in hand is the mass extinction of life on this planet, such praise would ring hollow.
The five rebels were a characteristically eclectic mix – a schoolboy, a recent graduate, a lecturer, a professor, and a climate change lawyer. They came armed with the results of an online XR survey specifically tailored to understand what rebels wanted from the meeting, and filled in by nearly 6000 of us the previous day.
According to the XR hive-mind, the single most important thing was to get DEFRA to declare a climate and ecological emergency. Other popular goals included getting Gove to take XRs three core demands to his Cabinet colleagues, and getting the government to end fossil fuel subsidies. These priorities steered the rebel representatives in their strategy for the talks.
Despite this enlightened approach, the meeting was deemed ‘disappointing’ ‘frustrating’ and “less shit than I thought it would be, but only mildly” by the rebels in attendance. The Secretary of State refused to declare a climate emergency, maintaining that he needed collective agreement across Government before taking such a position though this in the end did not prevent a climate emergency being declared by parliament yesterday evening. He also turned down the chance to join cross-party talks with climate youth activists. Gove did however commit to discussing a Citizens’ Assembly with Sadiq Khan, and also agreed to a second round of talks with the XR representatives in a month’s time. So a faint silver-lining to this first foray in negotiating with Her Majesty’s Government. A special XR podcast where the five representatives give their thoughts on the Michael Gove meeting can be listened to here or Watch XR’s full video of the meeting here.
XR is keen on hearing and incorporating your feedback on this meeting for future strategy and action. We will be reaching out for feedback on all of this in the coming weeks.
THE LABOUR MOTION
While the Welsh and Scottish Government’s had speedily announced a climate emergency earlier in the week, on Wednesday came the opportunity for the UK Government to join the club, triggered by the aforementioned Labour Party motion that was put to MPs for an afternoon debate and evening vote.
In preparation, 38 Degrees had urged 1.5 million voters to write to their local MPs and encourage them to attend (the House was nearly empty in the last climate change debate). While Opposition benches were filled to the rafters, the Government showing was lacklustre, with neither Claire Perry (Minister for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) nor Prime Minister Theresa May able to attend (family illness and Brexit, respectively).
Corbyn called for concerted government action to rescue our environment (albeit the more cautious goal of net zero by 2050), and a green industrial revolution to reprogram our entire economy. He also underlined the fact that an emergency doesn’t have to be a catastrophe. It is an opportunity to create jobs and improve living standards, and yes, it can be done.
Gove’s response was more complex. He started by dishing out praise to various members of the House for their work on climate change, and to Corbyn for triggering the debate. Citing the Government’s track record on tackling climate change, he then skewed partisan and hailed Thatcher as the first world leader to warn of the issue, made a piss-poor attempt at linking socialism to environmental destruction, and free market enterprise to green recovery, indulged at length with colleagues on how Brexit might help Britain reach theoretically ‘ambitious’ climate targets, joked how he could convince Trump to change his climate attitude over dinner (Corbyn had refused his seat at the coming State visit), and maintained that Conservative local councils had a better recycling record than Labour ones. As he ended his response with a plea that party politics be put to one side for the sake of the environment, one was left with the impression that this master of rhetoric couldn’t, in fact, transcend party politics as usual. You could cut the complacency with a knife.
As of 8:00pm, MPs have endorsed the Labour motion and the UK Parliament is now the first in the world to declare a climate and environment emergency! Conservative MPs were told not to oppose the motion and it passed without a formal vote.
As Extinction Rebellion members, we should all take a moment to appreciate how our actions, efforts and sacrifices have caused the halls of power to echo with debates and decisions such as these. But be under no illusions – this is a symbolic victory. The Government has conceded no extra funds and no new policies. Indeed, it is clear that the Secretary of State still cannot and will not address the dark clouds of apocalypse looming on the horizon. There is a long, long way to go before we see the policies that this planet needs enacted in a Queen’s Speech. But it is also true that with every high profile meeting involving XR representatives, and every motion passed that reflects XRs radical message, the bounds of what is politically possible expands, and the avoidance of what is scientifically necessary becomes ever more difficult.
So well done rebels! Today was undoubtedly another great leap on the path to climate justice.
Last Friday came media reports that nine XR rebels would be standing in the upcoming European elections, raising difficult questions for the XR community. Was Extinction Rebellion now a political party? Were XR funds now being used for election campaigning? Might this move just split the vote?
To be absolutely clear – these individuals are not acting on behalf of Extinction Rebellion. All those involved in the Euro elections are immediately stepping down from their roles in XR and will not be able to call upon XR resources, infrastructure, or funds for the duration of their involvement. Those taking part are doing so on a personal basis that is explicitly separate from XR.
XR is striving to evolve and organise in a way that, while allowing as much grassroots freedom as possible, makes all its members feel consulted and listened to – whether that be regionally or between groups across the world. It is an awesome task, both organisationally and technologically, but it is surmountable, and we urge any rebel with time and skills to spare to get involved as we put our wild, beautiful, sprawling house in order. In the meantime, compassion and thoughtful feedback will help us keep on learning as we work together towards a balance of between personal autonomy and collective responsibility.
We are not, and will never be, a political party.
Last Monday night a Nightingale sang in Berkeley Square
Cutting through the clamour of Mayfair on Monday evening, the sound of Nightingale song and human voices joined together in lament and warning at Berkeley square. Regret at the loss of so many species from our natural world and a foretelling of what is still yet to come if we continue as a society down the road of ecological destruction. Studies by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) show a 90% loss in Nightingale numbers in the UK, estimating the current number of singing males to currently be between 5,095 – 5,983 individuals. Current calculations by the BTO show that the Nightingale is set to disappear from the UK within the next 20 to 30 years.
Monday night was a collaboration between Nightingale song and rebels, the Nest Collective (http://thenestcollective.co.uk/about/) and Sam Lee, and a myriad different artists, musicians and poets.
At the start of the evening the rebels gathered and sang together as one large group. Many voices joined together in a chorus of evening bird song. Later in the evening rebels split into smaller groups, joined by various artists, performers, musicians and poets who circulated through the groups throughout the evening. Rebels within these groups shared poems, music and reflections. Here they expressed the hopes and fears we all share for the future.
Sam Lee led the songs at the start of the evening. For the last 5 years he has been leading ‘Singing with Nightingales’ concerts in the woods of Sussex, Kent, Essex and Gloucestershire; but last night, Nightingales were heard in Berkeley Square, albeit in digital format. Rebels gathered sang a collection of songs, one of the most moving being a remix of Vera Lynn’s ‘A Nightingale sang in Berkeley square‘.
A Bit of Background
Sam’s ‘Singing with Nightingales’ concerts follow in the footsteps of Beatrice Harrison, whose first live birdsong concert was broadcast on the BBC from her garden in Surrey in 1923. Beatrice would play her cello accompanied to the sound of the Nightingales’ courtship song every year on Spring evenings. It was the first ever live outdoor radio transmission and it captured the hearts of many who heard it. Lord Reith, the general director of the BBC at the time, wrote after the second live broadcast that the Nightingale ‘has swept the country…with a wave of something closely akin to emotionalism, and a glamour of romance has flashed across the prosaic round of many a life’.
The live broadcast of Nightingale song continued until 1942. That year the broadcast was cut short by the drone of RAF bombers on their way to Mannheim and from that point on the Nightingale broadcasts ceased.
Frighteningly, the situation is not so different today. In 1942, the Nightingales were silenced by the horrors and inhumanity of warfare; today in 2019 it is the blindness to catastrophe of our modern day society that is silencing the Nightingales. And we know now without real action the silence will be permanent. It was with this in mind that songs were sung in Berkeley square last night for the many species we have already lost. The figure of 200 species on this planet becoming extinct a day hitting home hard.
This is why the RSPB have released the single ‘Let Nature Sing,’ a single composed of birdsong to highlight this emergency. The hope is that if the single can make number 1 in the charts it can help highlight the issue to as many people as possible.
Martin Harper the RSPB’s director of conservation said that:
‘Over the last few days, thousands of people have bought and streamed our track to hear nature’s finest singers and show that they love bird song. This has started a national conversation as millions will have heard, seen and read the facts showing that, shockingly, nature is in crisis in the UK. The response to “Let Nature Sing” sends a powerful message that yes, nature is amazing but it is also in trouble. The good news is that it is not too late, we know what needs to be done and together we can take action to restore it for us and for future generation.’
(Here is a link to the RSPB website where you can purchase and download the single! ..https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/campaigning/let-nature-sing/)
‘Let Nature Sing’ was one of the songs played on Monday night. And it was rally cry from nature herself. After 2 weeks of direct action throughout London and with the current climate emergency moving up the political agenda and into public awareness, there was a sense of hope and agency in the air. For the rebels sat on the grass of Berkeley square it was a night to take stock of how far XR has come over the last fortnight and how far it still has to go. It was a night of reflection and visioning. XR is a learning movement and our key values state that ‘we value reflection and learning’ and that ‘we have a shared vision of change.’ (https://rebellion.earth/the-truth/about-us/)
While there was grieving and sadness at what has already been lost, the reason to keep fighting shone brightly. A reason to steady us even though the situation is scary and overwhelming. That reason being will make our voices heard so that future generations won’t have to listen to a recording of Nightingale song. So that our children and their children might too wander out into nature on a cool spring evening and hear the gentle song of Nightingales’ floating through the air. We will not let this be their swansong.
Following the huge success of the Rebel Riders’ cycling ‘cavalry’ during the international rebellion, last week around 200 rebels reclaimed the streets in the first joint XR-critical mass event: ‘Critical swarm’. The two groups joined forces and performed a cycle tour of London which culminated in a mass die-in outside the Tate Modern. The demonstration aimed to highlight the catastrophic rates of bee colony collapse due to climate change, pesticide use, habitat destruction and other human influences. Before the action the public was reminded that bees and other pollinators are worth billions to the global economy, and that every third bite of food we eat exists thanks to these remarkable creatures.
The swarm itself began at Waterloo Bridge, with rebels cycling past some iconic London landmarks proudly flying bright yellow bee flags from their backs. The swarm buzzed through a busy Parliament square, occupied Oxford Circus, and chanted outside the BBC before descending on the Tate modern. Joining the vanguard of on-foot activists, the ‘hive’ performed a die-in reminiscent of a sudden colony collapse. Bodies low, flags high, and speakers buzzing, the activists attracted a great deal of public and media attention outside one of Britain’s most popular and influential cultural institutions.
Although supported by the Tate, the location was chosen to highlight the exploitation of the Global South both historically and as a result of modern climate catastrophe. The swarm attracted many rebels – and similarly to other recent die-ins, attracted a large number of newcomers who were new to both XR and to direct action. The swarm was described as a ‘safe, joyful, fun, and yet poignant day’ by one first-time activist – it looks likely that this model of action will be replicated in the future.
London Financial Sector Take Over
Last Thursday, 25th April, XR rebels turned their attention to the Financial Sector with a series of actions to demand that the finance industry tell the truth about the devastating impact it has on our planet. The first action took place at the London Stock Exchange, where rebels glued themselves to each other or to the ground to prevent access to the building. Stretching right across the front entrance, seven brave rebels cut a dramatic figure in dark suits and masks with a XR symbol painted in gold, a financial ticker-style LED screen across their chests reading ‘tell the truth’, ‘climate emergency’ and ‘you can’t eat money’. More rebels blocked the back entrance.
Meanwhile, five rebels climbed onto a train at Canary Wharf, on the eastern edge of the City. Standing on top of a rush-hour train, rebels held up banners saying “Business as Usual = Death” and “Don’t Jail the Canaries”, in solidarity with the three rebels held on remand for the previous week’s DLR/Canary Wharf action. Members of the group also emphasised that there would be no return to ‘business as usual’ until meaningful action was taken on the ecological crisis. Among the rebels atop the DRL train was 83 year-old grandfather Phil Kingston, by now a familiar figure of the rebellion. Inevitably, British Transport Police made their way to the train and removed the rebels, but not before major commuter disruptions.
After a mass induction in the early morning, a total of 300 to 400 rebels swarmed St Paul’s and various parts of the City until around 2PM that afternoon, causing massive tail-backs and considerable disruption. As one rebel commented, the scale of the swarms truly ‘shows what can be achieved with commitment and determination’.
The final action in the financial district took place outside HM Treasury, where another nine rebels glued themselves to form a chain of people and prevented others from entering the building. Holding a banner which says ‘Business as Usual = Death’ – the group aimed to highlight the role the Treasury has played and continues to play in climate change and ecological breakdown.
Guarding Trees in Colne Valley
A group of rebels turned up on Saturday 27 April, fresh from protesting at Marble Arch, to support local protesters who’ve spent many months fighting to protect Colne Valley. The rebels joined local protesters in climbing up into the trees and preventing the contractors from felling them. Holding out for two days, the protesters blocked contractors, who will have to apply for new permits that take 20 days to process.
Why do we care? First, biodiversity loss. Cut down one tree and those that depend on it will be damaged, as well as the creatures who live in, on and around it. Cut down a bunch of trees and you’ve destroyed an entire mini-environment. There are also concerns about the water table in the area being damaged, potentially putting 22% of London’s water supply at risk of pollution. And we’ll never manage to become CO2 neutral if we carry on building yet more fossil fuel-led infrastructure of debatable public value and cutting greenery. The press covered the story positively, but this is an ongoing tragedy.
Local Colne activist Sarah Green is dedicated to protecting the beautiful trees threatened by the new HS2 train line. She’s been arrested for her actions and faces a court case in June or July this year. She said,
“Today (Tuesday), huge areas of grassland are being taken again, churned up by massive diggers. They’ve been pristine grassland since the 15th century, but everything is being destroyed”.
The recent weekend protests were so successful that Sarah has just been served with an injunction along with a few other protestors. Apparently they’re due in the High Court some time in mid-May and the opposition will be petitioning for the protestors to pay court costs.
You can read more about the work being done to save Colne Valley here.
Carn-Evil of Chaos
The Dan Spanner Big Band, XR Drummers and musicians, London XR Samba and dance groups, and colourfully dressed rebels gathered outside the Brazilian Embassy in London Monday night, 1st May, for a massive Carnival “Rio” style street party in solidarity with the people of Brazil, fighting to defend the planet’s ecosystem against rampant human greed. Something like a hundred people gathered and marched towards the Embassy, holding the street and disrupting traffic for a few minutes before the cops pushed the group to the curb. Vivienne Westwood made an appearance and spoke to the crowd in front of the Embassy.
The newly elected president of Brazil, Jair M. Bolsonaro, is wrecking biodiversity for financial gain. Bolsonaro’s destructive plan aims to ransack indigenous lands in order to build a motorway through the Amazon rainforest. The impact of such mammoth deforestation would be disastrous, not only for the indigenous people of Brazil whose very existence is under threat, but for the global ecosystem. Bolsonaro also promises to weaken the enforcement of environmental laws, whilst criminalising activism. Brazil is already an extremely dangerous place for environmental protectors.
The event concluded with the ceremonial raising of the ‘new’ Brazilian flag, designed by the artist Paleface, which reflects and condemns Bolsonaro’s right-wing government. The flag acts as a symbolic challenge to the moral bankruptcy of the Brazilian government, particularly in regard to the mistreatment of the environment and indigenous people.
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 email@example.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 Legal Support
11 MAY | 11:00am | XR Euston Office
Court familiarisation, witness, and defence training, to be held on Saturday, May 11. The day is primarily for those who have been charged with an offence following an XR action. It will include an overview of court layout, personnel and procedures, and offer some pointers to being an effective witness in your own defence. These areas will, we hope, be useful to all defendants, whether represented or self-representing.
The second part of the day will focus on the structure of a self-represented defence for those who have decided to, or are thinking about, representing themselves at trial. We hope to draw on a range of experience and advice.
If you would like to come, or would like further information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Court Training’ in the subject line.
With love XR Legal Support
P.S. If any activist has experienced employment difficulties as a result of involvement with XR actions, please get in touch using email@example.com. We have been offered specialist legal advice in this area.
International Mother’s Day March
SUN 12 MAY | 12 noon | Trafalgar Square to Parliament Square
Facebook event page here
95 countries celebrate INTERNATIONAL MOTHER’S DAY on Sunday May 12th. Many of them in the global South are already affected by climate change. By marching on this significant date we will show our solidarity with mothers in love and rebellion around the world! With pushchairs and song we will march from Trafalgar Square to Westminster and unleash the mighty roar of the lioness. We will demand that our Government takes immediate, drastic action for a just transition to sustainable way of life. We will work together to forge a future worthy of our children.
Action: We will form a circle of love and protection around a large oversized pushchair on Parliament Square, where a beautiful ceremony of speeches and song will be held in solidarity for mothers already affected by climate change.
All are welcome to protest: grandmothers, aunties, childminders, friends, dads, grandfathers, uncles, brothers, those who are yet to have children, those who can’t, those who have chosen not to. Everyone counts!
Bring: decorated pushchairs (empty or occupied), your children’s paintings, banners, your voice, creativity and energy.
Help would be appreciated with creating, organising or promoting this event. Please spread the word and get in touch if you’d like to get involved. Contact – firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any contacts abroad that could help organise a march or get mothers to come together in some other context on this day, please get in touch. Let’s reach out and unite across the globe! Contact – email@example.com
Global Strike for Future
FRI 24 MAY | Various times/locations
The massive global school strike movement #fridaysforfuture is calling for all sectors of the economy to participate in their deep global strike on May 24, 2019! Join Greta Thunberg and the powerful and courageous schoolchildrens’ climate movement. They invite you to start your local event as soon as possible and spread the word so they can centralize all events on the world map dedicated and beat all records. See https://www.facebook.com/events/313546356029054/ and https://www.fridaysforfuture.org for map of events and further details.
1. Greenpeace Climate Manifesto
As well as commissioning a pretty fascinating public poll this week, Greenpeace also unveiled their climate manifesto – a detailed roadmap of 134 practical actions the UK Government should take immediately to ensure the country achieves net zero carbon emissions as soon as possible.
Measures include tripling wind and solar power to ensure 80% of electricity comes from renewables, phasing out petrol and diesel cars by 2030, and major building insulation and habitat restoration drives.
The manifesto has been sent to MPs and policymakers and is open to public critique. While you read/comment, you could also sign their climate emergency petition.
Although we’ve very much secured the first part! Far from rendering this petition obsolete, this week’s declaration gives even more reason to sign it and share it.
The implications of what a declaration of climate emergency actually means are still yet to be decided. It’s up to us to help shape what this looks like in practice, and the Greenpeace suggestions (beginning with banning all new oil and gas production) are a great place to start.
2. Call To Action: Petitioning For The Third Demand
Now that MPs have officially declared a Climate and Ecological Emergency, a vital next step is for them to establish a formal UK Citizens’ Assembly to deal with it. Gove, Khan, Corbyn and countless others are already talking about doing this – now’s the time to show how much we want it!
We are calling on all rebels to shower their MPs with e-mails and letters urging them to support this urgent call for the establishment of a Citizens’ Assembly to address the Climate and Ecological Emergency.
To find your MP: https://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/
By email: find address via link above or via www.writetothem.com (easy to use site but you must compose your own message).
By letter: Name of MP, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA
Further info on Citizens’ Assemblies: https://rebellion.earth/the-truth/demands/#beyond-politics
You could write something like this:
Long-term, sustainable, fair and bold decisions are urgently needed to address the climate and ecological crises we now face. UK policies are actively stifling the government’s responsibility to care for the wellbeing and future of its citizens by continuing harmful fossil fuel subsidies, airport expansion etc.
A Citizens’ Assembly will ensure that any recommendations will represent the best interests of the whole country, and are fair and socially just.
I call upon you, as my representative in the House of Commons, to support this urgent call for the establishment of a Citizens’ Assembly to address the climate and ecological emergency.
Children’s postcard writing campaign: Write a postcard, draw a picture to tell MPs they want action on climate and to halt the ecological annihilation.
International Mass Die In
Around the world thousands of rebels participated in an International Mass Die In over the weekend to denounce the disappearance of countless plant and animal species during the sixth mass extinction in progress. Led by XR Berlin, the call was answered by rebels from cities in France, Australia, New Zealand, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Austria, Poland, Denmark, Turkey and likely many more. In the UK, die-ins were reported in Norwich, Glasgow, Southampton, Kingston, Brighton, Aberystwyth amongst others, with numbers of rebels ranging from a few handfuls to the hundreds.
At 12.05pm exactly, rebels young and old fell to the ground – in museums, shopping centres or pedestrianised high streets, railway stations, on the steps of historical monuments and even in the middle of the road! Rebels lay still, in silence – some had opted for 11 minutes to symbolise the 11 years remaining to avert ecological disaster, others for a longer duration – but everywhere the lifeless bodies let banners do the talking: ‘Are we next?’, ‘Rebel for Life’, ‘Let’s choose survival’ and the stark reminder, ‘The greatest threat to our planet is the belief someone else will save it’, ‘Act Now’.
When the silence was finally broken, rebels rose up in celebration – a celebration of life and even more so perhaps a celebration of the difference we, as XR rebels, are beginning to make.
A couple of hundred rebels staged a die in at an HSBC bank having held a funeral for our future through the city streets.
Rebels beneath Dippy the dinosaur at Kelvingrove art gallery and museum.
Rebels from all over France staged a symbolic die in depicting the urgent need to act to save the living world that is dying: Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Rouen and in Grenoble’s grand palace shopping centre (video).
“Because every individual counts, because every missing species counts, because every minute counts” XR France
XR Norway held die-ins at various locations including the main train station in Olso, where they received applause from commuters, outside the opera house and in a shopping centre to highlight that the clothing industry is the second largest polluter after the oil industry.
XR Sweden staged die-ins outside Stockholm’s famous NK department store and in central Lund.
Berlin, Leipzig, and Frankfurt
Extinction Rebellion Cologne also took to the street, swarming at four different locations in the city. The team distributed flyers and vegan biscuits to delayed drivers and interested passer-bys.
After a closing rally on the site of the Old Synagogue with many speeches and music contributions, 50 rebels swarmed to block a street in Freiburg in the pouring rain. 22 rebels were arrested after 2 hours. “Pissed, scared, passionate & determined. We won’t stop until Climate Emergency and 6th mass extinction are being addressed by a Citizens’ Assembly.”
XR Nuremberg also held a Funeral march at end of international rebellion week. “It was important to us to bring this topic in everyday life and to mourn together in public.”
An XR island of sanity was created at the centre of a traffic roundabout with message for those passing by “Don’t just sit there, do something”.
During the royal family’s tour of Amersfoort on King’s Day, 27th April, XR rebels jumped into the water and unfurled a banner saying: “Amersfoort will get wet feet when it is next to the sea.” (video) The action garnered waves from the royals and front page coverage in the Dutch national newspaper.
Students from International Institute of Social Studies, held a die-in.
XR Australia also held their 2nd Camp out For Climate in Melbourne, 30 Apr-1 May, on the steps of Parliament House where they intend to “…make our presence known in peaceful and fun-loving protest”.
Elsewhere, a group of rebels braved the autumn weather for a water die in outside the NGV art gallery in Melbourne. And a a temporary memorial was created for just some of the species Australia has lost in the past 200 years.
It’s not technically XR, but the youth-led climate movement Zero Hour have just announced “a historic weekend of international youth climate action” at the Miami #ThisIsZeroHour Youth Climate Summit, happening July 12th-14th. For those who can’t make it to Miami, stay tuned for a guide on organizing for climate action in your community.
Finding and Supporting Our Arrestees
With over 1000 rebels arrested, 70 charged and court dates looming it is vital we give legal, media and wellbeing support. If you or someone you know were arrested please, please, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and read this document for arrestees or those who want to help.
Love letters for Rebels
Over 1000 people have been arrested in this movement to stand for the vitality of the earth. Let them know they are loved! (Facebook page)
You are invited to write an anonymous ‘love-letter’ of gratitude to a rebel who has been sacrificing on the front line or spending time in a cell to protect what we all love and rely on for life.
Writing a short note of thanks, love and solidarity may only take 5 mins, but it can be hugely supportive to receive and lets them know they are seen and valued.
Address your letter “Dear Rebel” and send to: XRemail@example.com
We will collect them and distribute them to arrestees and rebels who have been giving their all.
NOTE: Feel free to include your name at the end (without Surname) but we will be removing your email address and any identifying details when we forward on the note.
Doctors Against Climate Change
Please share and sign if you are a medically qualified individual. In the words of one of our members leading the campaign – himself a former GP: “We need to widen the net to involve professional and other groups. Here is a letter designed to garner support from a large group of doctors. 1000 signatures from a group of scientifically savvy yet caring professionals could lend authority and leverage. The health implications of climate change are well documented, already massive, potentially devastating and hardly discussed within the profession.
Please copy this link to any medically qualified individuals or groups you may have contact with. It’s carefully worded to appeal to a conservative group.” https://cancerofclimatechange.org
Lost and Found in the Rebellion
Help your stuff help us find one another!
If you are wondering what happened to your only sleeping bag – or your favourite smartphone – during the rebellion, you are not alone. So are we! A plot so twisted couldn’t have been dreamed under the influence of nature’s most potent medicines or Hollywood’s least predictable AI.
If you’ve been dutifully holding onto something who belongs with someone else, you are invited to fill out this found items form.
Close to 200 individual bags and items of baggage have been photographed and listed on the Baggage Reclaim FB page.
If you are missing something more sensitive, such as a diary, phone or wallet, or if your item hasn’t appeared in a photo, we have this lost belongings form which can be quickly filled out in case your things come looking. If you need help with the form or anything else, you can try calling our dedicated Lost and Found phone line (07494128076) for rebels and things.
Also try all the usual channels, such as asking around, and local police. You just never know!
Finally if you really want the best chance of getting something back, why not offer to spend an afternoon helping out? More hands make light work yada yada….
XR Newsletter Needs Translators
A global movement is a polyglot movement! If you’re able to put in a bit of time once a week to translate the XR newsletter into your language, please let us know. We are particularly interested in Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Italian, Cantonese, Mandarin, Arabic, Urdu, Hindi, and Russian translators, but reaching rebels everywhere is essential so your expertise in any language is welcome. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What would a Citizens’ Assembly look like? Episode 3 of the XR Podcast features Matthew Taylor, Sarah Allan and Rupert Read, and is all about Citizens’ Assemblies.
And this week there is also a special bonus XR Podcast featuring the thoughts of the XR representatives who met with the Environment Secretary Michael Gove. You lucky rebels!
If music is more your thing, here’s a link to a brilliant DJ mix specifically tailored to be the soundtrack of the rebellion. Featuring Massive Attack, Portishead, Coldcut and many more, plus words of warning from Greta Thunberg and Noam Chomsky amongst others…
Want to get the inside track on developments in XR UK? If you’d like to be added to the internal newsletter, please email email@example.com with ‘Internal subscribe’ in the subject line.
News & Recommended Content
‘[W]e are not talking about a wildfire season – we are getting significant wildfires happening throughout the year […] I would argue that those statistics suggest that we are already experiencing climate change and that it has already led to increasing wildfire risk’
‘Judge Gary Hickinbottom said he did not accept the arguments made by environmentalists […] The court held that none of the climate change grounds was arguable’. Plan B and XR joint statement here.
‘Part of the overall problem with climate change is a problem of injustice: the people who didn’t cause the problem are typically those facing the worst impact […] To ask them – the poorest, the most vulnerable people – to then take a loan for the loss and damage resulting from climate change is just an outrageous doubling down of the injustice of climate change”.
‘More than 4,000 indigenous people from hundreds of tribes across the country are expected to camp out in front of government buildings for three days of native celebrations and protests’. Survival International petition here. Meanwhile the Waorani people have won a legal battle preventing the government of Ecuador from auctioning their lands to oil companies.
Useful background on this nasty industry from Drill or Drop. Apparently ‘a perfectly viable industry is being wasted because of a Government policy driven by environmental lobbying rather than science, evidence and a desire to see UK industry flourish.’ A subsequent article shows that, employed to provide a ‘point of contact with residents’, she only spent 10% of her appointments were with local people vs. over a quarter with businesses ‘including oil and gas operators’, suspiciously deleting emails and meeting notes afterwards.
‘People like myself are very dogged and determined […] I cannot allow these things to sway me. There are too few people standing up and fighting to protect our environment, our landscape, our wildlife.’ See also his brilliant response to the ‘two-headed tadpole’ he received and is now auctioning off to support Wild Justice’s next legal challenge. Bidding closes May 6th!
Some lessons here from another mass movement of civil disobedience, currently being completely ignored by the UK mass media. They don’t want us to get the wrong ideas, I suppose… XR gets an honorary mention in the concluding paragraph.
‘Increased prostate, kidney and ovarian diseases, as well as heightened obesity and birth abnormalities were found in the offspring of lab rats exposed to glyphosate, a scientific study has found.’ Related: this article by ecologist Colin Tosh explores the ‘abusive relationship’ that agriculture has with insect life especially in ‘developed’ countries where intensively managed, chemical dependent, arable and pasture land (around 70% of England) now barely supports any wildlife at all. With over 2.6 million hectares sprayed with glyphosate in the UK in 2016 ‘there is no way we can expect to have a healthy population of insects and the animals that eat them’.
Excellent two-part summary by Media Lens. What does it have to do with Extinction Rebellion? It shows what the dominant culture does to its truth tellers and to dissidents who step beyond the bounds of Acceptable Discourse and actually challenge power. Remember: Wikileaks were once feted by the Guardian too. Not so much lately. See here for leaks published over the years on the subject of global warming. Petition against his extradition here, now over 300,000 signatures.
Lovely in-depth piece by Dougald Hine from the latest Dark Mountain book, exploring the common ground between XR and DM, especially on the importance of facing up to grief and not relying on false hopes. I also liked his description about ‘negotiating the surrender of our whole way of living’ but there are too many important insights to not read it in full!
Thank you for reading. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
This newsletter was written collaboratively by a hivemind of 12 rebels.
As we enter this crucial 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.
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