Newsletter 22 – Get ready for a Civil Summer!
May 30, 2019 by Rebel Writers
A human artwork from XR France
Welcome to our 22nd newsletter!
This week saw some inspiring non-XR actions from the Youth Climate Strike and Greenpeace, and there are more to come, with exciting plans shaping up from Ende G and the Vienna climate camp. These actions are met by XR with support and solidarity.
The change we want to see requires a whole movement of movements, and we are continually grateful to the many non-XR activists out there in the global north and global south, who are organising tirelessly and demanding urgent action from those in power. With this in mind we give our warmest thanks to Green and Black Cross, who have announced their decision to withdraw from XR UK for the time being. You can see our official response here.
Within XR, we celebrate another week of wonderful actions that continue to spring up from every corner of our active global community. We’ve also been deep in planning for the next full-scale Rebellion. The international conversation has begun to settle on late September for when the next round of big actions will kick off. Given that XR has tripled in size since April, it seems a safe bet that autumn will witness an altogether new level of conscientious protection, even as our loving motives (and award-refusing aesthetics!) remain unchanged.
As our global presence grows, UK rebels are happy to work as one contingent alongside so many others, united by one banner and one vision. We look forward to many collaborative international actions between now and September. Indeed, one such action is already planned, set to feature several European partners and an iconic seaside location…Stay tuned for more details!
In the meantime, XR UK is drawing to the close of its post-April regeneration: at the national scale, action proposals are beginning to form (which we’ll be eager to present here for your feedback, as soon as they are available!), while our 100+ local branches are buzzing with their own plans for summer disruption.
We’ll do well to fit it all in by September! To watch us try, keep reading these newsletters – and if you’ve been forwarded this issue, you can sign up for your very own copy here.
‘Spring is the time of plans and projects.’―Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
If you’d like to learn more about how you can help, please check out our guide – or see Announcements.
To connect to rebels in your local area, get in touch with your nearest XR group. If there’s no active group near you, you can start your own! Stay up to date with local upcoming events here, or start your own event by filling in our talks and trainings form!
If you can’t spare time, but can donate money instead, please see our fundraiser page.
If you’d like to help us organise on a national level, we could use your skills in all sorts of areas from writing to tech to ideas to logistics. To join the effort enroll in ‘XR University’, a buddy scheme for integrating new rebels into the ranks.
If you’re new, or haven’t fully got to grips with everything XR, have a read of this to get to know our history and the principles and values that guide our work.
- Recent Activity
- Upcoming Activity
- Act now
- International Highlights
- News & Recommended Content
The Youth of the World Strikes Back
24 MAY | Whole Globe (150 countries!)
Greta addresses a 40,000-strong crowd in Copenhagen. Standard. Photo: Greta Thunberg.
Last Friday, an estimated 1.5 million young people around the world showed up for their planet in the biggest Youth Climate Strike yet. Things have certainly snowballed since 15-year-old Greta Thunberg first sat alone outside the Swedish Parliament last August, calling on her government to take action. Since then, school children from all over the planet have joined Greta in her ‘Fridays for Future’ strike from lessons every week.
This week saw huge turnout in Copenhagen, Lisbon, Turin, Rome, Lausanne, Brussels, Paris, Cologne, Madrid, London, Edinburgh, Manchester, and the movement is flourishing outside Europe in a very big way. Students came out in their thousands all through North and South America, from Nunavut and Alaska down to Tierra del Fuego on the southernmost tip of Argentina.
Activists are mobilising through the power of social media in Islamabad, Jerusalem, Cairo, Melbourne, Sydney, New Delhi, Gurugram, Rawalpindi, Kampala, Mbale, Babanusa, Beirut, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, Manila, Yangon, Kaohsiung City. (Honestly, it’s too many to name – check out this Fridays for Future map and #FridaysForFuture on Twitter to get a better picture of the global youth strike community.)
We’ll try to spotlight some of the amazing stories that are coming out of the Youth Strikes.
Strike in Jerusalem. Photo by Michael Backlund.
In Jerusalem, Israeli and Palestinian teenagers are putting their differences aside and joining together for the climate crisis. Their signs read ‘This is bigger’.
Over 500 young people joined organiser Michael Backlund to protest outside the Knesset for their government to prioritise the climate crisis.
Students from Szabist University in Islamabad are building the movement in Pakistan. Photo via Gulf News.
University students in cities across Pakistan are speaking out because they feel they are getting an unfair deal. An organiser Iqbal Badruddin says: ‘We are protesting because we feel the government is not doing enough. We have hardly contributed to the crisis and yet we’re going to suffer. We demand climate justice.’
The climate emergency is not so much a distant fear but a reality for these students. Iqbal goes on: ‘It is important because the effects of the climate crisis are already affecting Pakistan in the form of frequent floods, melting of glaciers, droughts, rising sea levels, air pollution and health risks.’
The world’s youth are fighting to be heard in what is tentatively being called the biggest environmental protest in history. Who are some of the bravest activists out on the front line? That’s right, it’s teenagers.
Greenpeace BP Action
20 MAY | British Petroleum HQ, London, UK
BP is responsible for 1.5% of all global emissions since 1988. This is a staggering amount for a single company. And, with a $52 million budget earmarked for oil exploration in the next decade, not much looks set to change for BP, despite their PR team working hard on their ‘eco’ public image.
Last week, Greenpeace activists blocked entrances to the BP London headquarters with 5 large concrete containers, each holding a pair of Greenpeace activists. The brave activists planned to live in these tiny containers for up to a week, and arrived with a supply of food, water and Netflix.
The operation began in the early hours of Monday morning last week when the containers were put in place using cranes.
Climbers scaled the building with banners declaring the climate emergency. Other activists chained themselves to railings outside the building.
Unfortunately, arrests came quickly and the blockade was removed by the evening. We salute Greenpeace’s boldness and their courage to take risks, even if it could result in significant personal sacrifice.
The world is rebelling. XR rebels, Greenpeace activists and Youth Strikers, we stand together.
British Petroleum needs to change its ways for our planet to be saved. Check out this 1-minute video from Greenpeace that shines a light on BP’s climate crimes.
XR Hackney Families Against Glyphosate
17 MAY | Hackney Town Hall, London, UK
On Monday 20th May, families gathered in Hackney to demand their local council stop using the toxic weed killer glyphosate. Glyphosate is the most widely sold and most used pesticide in the world, but new studies suggest it could be damaging the gut bacteria of honeybees. There are also concerns about the chemical’s effect on human health.
Families of rebels swarmed outside the town hall dressed as bees and butterflies, council gardeners and toxic substances (above), and staged a die-in on the steps. They demand the council switch to a safer alternative for spraying around the borough’s parks and playgrounds – one that doesn’t make life even worse for bees.
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, and you’ve got a story to share, please email email@example.com with ‘Story Contribution’ in the subject line. For major bonus points, write the story as you’d like it to appear in the newsletter!
Manchester’s latest Youth 4 Climate Strike on Friday was an exciting event, as hundreds of protestors brought the city centre to a standstill. The protest was supported by Mayor Andy Burnham and Gorton MP Afzal Khan.
The Mayor spoke to the school strikers, encouraging them to keep fighting for their future and upholding the strong tradition of activism in Manchester. Watch his full speech here, including a moving interruption by 9-year-old Lillia. She climbed up onto the platform, politely borrowing the mic to ask: ‘Will you promise to help us?’
‘I do promise to help you’, he replied.
Time to Bankrupt Climate Change
On Saturday, XR Manchester protested at Barclays in a joint action with Momentum. According to the BankTrack group, Barclays is the top European banker of fracking and coal, financing fossil fuel companies by $85 billion in the last three years.
Joe describes the event: ‘We leafletted the public first, but it was pretty depressing, most people on Market Street walk straight past. The moment we started the die-in, we were suddenly getting a lot of attention. People could still get into the bank, but they had to pick their way over our bodies. We were aiming for a 10-minute die-in, but everyone was pretty comfortable so we stayed for an hour.’
Sunday night saw a pretty unique set of voting results from the EU elections, and while this newsletter is no place for Brexit analysis (thank Gaia) it is certainly worth noting that the Green Party campaigned on the dual ticket of being firmly pro Remain and pro action on the climate crisis, and they had their best election result in 30 years, sending a total of seven MEPs to Brussels (an increase of four) and coming top in two local authority areas (Bristol and Brighton & Hove).
This national Green surge was mirrored across the continent. In Ireland they trebled their vote share, in Germany they nearly doubled it to become the second biggest party, while in France the greens came third overall, a major upset of the status quo.
Although it caused some confusion and consternation, required a fair amount of clarification, and will certainly not be carried out in the same way again, nine well-meaning rebels did formally separate from Extinction Rebellion to stand as Climate Emergency Independents in the EU elections – seven in the London region, and two in SW England. The individual figures can be perused in this twitter thread but in summary the activists collected a total just shy of 10,000 votes. Ultimately, it will be left to those seven Green MEPs to take the climate emergency message from the UK to Brussels.
Last Friday saw the biggest wave of school climate strikes yet, and inspired by the demands of the young activists taking part, Labour have pledged to make the global climate emergency a key part of the school curriculum from primary school onwards. The Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner promised a curriculum that would not just educate young people about the ecological and social impact of the climate crisis, but also prepare them for the renewable energy and green technology jobs of the future.
Labour also announced plans to fit solar panels to 1.75 million homes. The panel programme will focus on social housing and low-income households and is part of its ‘green industrial revolution’ policy platform that promises to be a core part of its next manifesto.
Turning to the Conservatives, the Environment Secretary Michael Gove has announced he will be running in the upcoming leadership elections. With a dozen candidates all setting out their stalls as to why they should be Britain’s next Prime Minister, a 60-strong group of moderate Tory MPs have urged the contenders to put the climate crisis, not Brexit, at the forefront of the contest. Now is the perfect time for Michael to put some weight behind his honeyed words of support during the parliamentary debate that led to the climate emergency announcement…
Whoever ends up being Prime Minister, one thing we can be sure of is that plastic straws, drink stirrers, and cotton buds will be banned from sale in England from April 2020. Here’s hoping this welcome piece of legislation is just the first of many that the government uses to phase out plastics and stop them polluting our waterways.
One local story underlining how close we are to this looming climate crisis is the news that a Welsh council is already making preparations to rehouse 850 residents and allow their coastal village to return to salt marsh due to rising sea levels. In 26 years or less, Britain will see its first community become a nomadic group of climate refugees.
Finally, we should take a moment to commiserate with our rebel friends down under. Their coal-loving incumbent government has been re-elected, defying expectations expressed by media pundits, although polls had been stuck within the margin of error around 51-49 for many months.
Labor suffered from a scare campaign and its own ambiguous environmental messages, (see proposed Adani coal mine) while the Liberals’ pro-coal message resonated with Queenslanders amidst high unemployment. The Greens, on the other hand, gained about 2% nationwide in Senate votes, perhaps vaguely mirroring EU results. Labor is licking its wounds, trying to decide whether to go strong pro-environment or retreat to fight the Liberals in the coal pits. The silver lining is that ex-PM Tony ‘Climate-change-is-crap’ Abbott lost his seat, as did neo-Nazi Fraser Anning. XR Australia and allies need to work hard the next three years to achieve a real climate-change election!
Trump visits the UK
3-5 June | UK
US President Donald Trump will be visiting the UK next week. One of our core values is to avoid blaming and shaming individuals, but there can be no question that the political interests of which Trump is a symptom and servant have led to some seriously bad environmental policies. It’s no surprise, then, that Extinction Rebellion has been invited to join in the many protests marking this visit. We’ve decided against organising protest actions on a national level, but UK rebels are totally encouraged to the demonstrations.
Ende Gelände. Stop Coal – Protect the Climate
19-24 June | Rhineland, Germany
The mother of all climate camps, Ende Gelände (stop here!) is gearing up in Germany from 19 to 24 June. Fighters for climate justice from across different movements all over Europe are coming together to take the coal-phase out into our own hands and block the coal infrastructure in the Rhineland. Tired of waiting for politicians to say no to coal? Take direct action at Europe’s largest CO2 source! Find out more here. Actions in the UK are planned for late July.
Mass Lobby on Climate Change
26 June | Parliament
Thousands of concerned citizens will descend on Parliament on Wednesday 26 June to meet their MPs and ask them to act on the ecological emergency. Be part of it! Tell your MP about the crisis and ask them to put pressure on our Government to recognise and act on the emergency. Sign up here. This action is not organised by XR, but by a coalition of organisations.
Can’t take the day off? Write a letter to your MP instead, explain why you think the Government needs to act on the climate emergency now and highlight the three demands of our rebellion:
- Tell the truth: Government must tell the truth by declaring on the climate emergency, working with other institutions, including the media, to communicate the urgency for change.
- Act now: Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
- Beyond politics: Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizen’s Assembly on climate and ecological justice.
You can easily find your MP’s address here by typing in your postcode.
Sign a petition to prevent a new coal mine in the UK
Can’t make it to Germany? Fight coal in the UK! The Government is considering opening a opencast coal mine in Druridge Bay, Northumbria – even though the proposal was rejected last year. Tell them that the last thing we need is another coal mine, we should be investing in renewables instead. Sign the petition.
16 May | Melbourne
Five rebels glued on outside coal lobbyist group Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) demanding government tell the truth about the climate emergency. The activists caused disruptions during the lunch hour protesting the negligence of the current Australian government in protecting its people, environment, and depleting natural resources in the face of the global climate emergency.
Ahoy, rebels! Last Friday, Extinction Rebellion and Vote For The Planet pirates took over the iconic Sydney Harbour to tell Australians to vote for their future in the federal election.
Here’s some quick videos of the action for your pirate viewing pleasure.
19 May – Brussels
Nine rebels peacefully disrupted a live broadcast of De Zevende Dag TV-program at the VRT News HQ in Brussels. They wore T-shirts representing the 9 planetary boundaries and silently stepped in to bring these to the discussion table in an effort to demand the truth from media and politicians.
21 May – Munich
Rebels and FFF Munich came together to occupy an open space in the city, planning to camp out for a week.
22 May – Heidelberg
Rebels blockaded a bridge in Heidelberg.
XR MULTIPLE CITIES
More than 1.5 million young people in over 2000 cities of 125 countries across world in a Global Climate Strike for the Future on May 24. Below are some photos from international XR groups’ participation:
More than a thousand people have marched through Melbourne’s CBD and staged a mock “die-in” for climate change. The protest disrupted tram services across the CBD including Swanston, Collins and Bourke streets as well as City Circle trams. About a thousand people gathered outside the Victorian Parliament at the start of the protest
XR Gambia preparing for the strike.
XR Delhi preparing for the strike.
Rebels in Delhi took to the streets to demand action from those in power.
26 May – Brisbane
Around 250 environmental activists have laid down among the dinosaurs at the Queensland Museum.
27 May Montreal
Rebels glued their hands onto the doors at the Quebec Oil and Gas Association.
XR Taiwan and China
WANTED: Rebels with on point organisation and epic admin skills!
If you have a laptop and at least 15 hours a week to give to the admin side of the Rebellion then please fill out THIS FORM!
Separately – A team at XR UK are piloting a Self Organising System to run the organisation and need more rebels to test it out. If you are already part of the XR machine, have frustrations over how things are currently organised, and are interested in ways to improve them, then the team want to here from you! You can read more and sign up here.
XR Statement on local citizens’ assemblies
The National Citizens’ Assembly Working Group has written a statement about their position on local/regional citizens’ assemblies. Proper deliberative democracy is at the heart of XR’s vision for change; it’s a tool to help us fix this broken system and save the planet. The group has set up an online area for discussion and sharing best practice. Please direct any questions, comments and ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
An Organisational Platform project group has formed in order to enable greater online organisation, idea generation, deliberation and decision-making both within groups and across the movement.
The team will:
- Learn about XR’s self-organising system
- Research platforms (e.g., Basecamp, Loomio and Pol.is) and identify (and potentially adapt) platforms which best fit with our self-organising system
- Ensure that the self-organising system structure is maintained when people start using the platforms, i.e., how to introduce them to it
If you would like to be added to the Basecamp project, please click here
Writing for Rebellion
A new working group is looking for experienced and/or enthusiastic writers. We’re hoping to become a wellspring of written materials, prioritising longer-form considerations of XR and the cultural, political and scientific aspects of the world around it. These will be for publication in this newsletter, on the XR blog, and the main website (and possibly also in mainstream journalistic publications). If you’d like to help us with writing or editing, please email email@example.com with ‘Writing’ in the subject line.
XR Finance – Crowdfunding news
The support we have received during the International Rebellion has been extraordinary. We would like to thank all our donors again from the bottom of our heart. We are changing the world together! (climate interest spike)
We have received over half a million pounds this year in donations. Three quarters of these were between £10 and £50.
We are entering a new chapter in the life of Extinction Rebellion. We are growing at an amazing pace and our working groups as well as our international groups are going to need our financial support in the months to come.
This is one of the numerous comments we received from our generous donors:
‘I have been so impressed by the smart, organised and passionate commitment of the extinction rebellion to take a non-violent civil action. They have ignited change through creativity and kindness. Climate change has been pushed into the political agenda as a direct result of national and international focused action. I have never witnessed such a carefully considered, passionate and organised protest for change.’
Arrestee welfare: Can you help?
On Wednesday 24th April at 9.50pm a very vulnerable person was arrested by police at the Shell petrol station on Bayswater Road, Kensington Gardens, W2. This person was lying down underneath a petrol tanker in support of the International Rebellion. We urgently need to find witnesses to his arrest.
If you were there and may be able to help please contact XR’s arrestee welfare team at Xr-PerennialRegen@protonmail.com, marking your email ‘URGENT: witness for arrestee’. With love and gratitude, Kitty from XR’s Arrestee Welfare team.’
XR @ Glastonbury
Hello fellow Rebels! So really exciting stuff is bubbling away for XR’s presence at Glastonbury.
We will be having our Fully scheduled XR tent in the Green Futures field, as well as taking over Shanghai-la with our art, Bimble Inn on the Saturday night, XR billboards on either side of the Pyramid stage, and lastly: starting at the Park Stage at 4:00pm – we will be leading an Extinction march through Glastonbury led by the pink boat, ending at the stone circle to do the extinction symbol with hundreds of humans! – there’s also some wonderful surprises that are in the pipeline (the pink boat is ending up on a 65m gold pier for one!) so watch this space.
Now, since the rebellion, everybody wants a piece of us, but we’ve only managed to scrape together enough tickets for a skeleton crew (no more tickets! I repeat….) so if you are ALREADY going to Glastonbury and can do a talk, train, are Regen etc. Get in touch! Everywhere wants someone to talk, and we need all the help we can get to bombard our messaging to all four corners of this thing, as well as as many XR people as possible for a possible Pyramid stage invasion….
Reply to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, we will be creating some beautiful moments at the festival and are looking for content makers to document them, so rebels across the world can join the experience.
If you’re a videographer, photographer, writer or social media whizz and would like to help out, please get in touch with email@example.com.
XR Business – a public correction
XR Co-Founder Gail Bradbrook has written a public correction about XR Business, a controversial project that aimed to unite Extinction Rebellion with businesses keen to address the climate crisis. The announcement can be read in full here.
XR has blossomed into a wonderful complex sprawling network of rebels, working groups and subgroups, so it can be hard to keep up with everything that’s going on.
Sign up to the internal newsletter for a weekly round-up of activity from the national working groups.
With all the amazing work going on, this is a chance to touch base, get alongside each other, and make sure we’re moving forward together.
News & Recommended Content
‘The four-year conflict in Yemen which has pushed huge swathes of the population close to famine has also left the country with a severe fuel crisis[…] millions of trees are likely being lost as a result of excessive firewood gathering by communities facing an acute shortage of natural gas.’ To re-purpose a phrase: the future is already here – it’s just unevenly distributed.
After extensive research Lisa Song found that ‘In case after case […] carbon credits hadn’t offset the amount of pollution they were supposed to, or they had brought gains that were quickly reversed or that couldn’t be accurately measured to begin with. Ultimately, the polluters got a guilt-free pass to keep emitting CO₂, but the forest preservation that was supposed to balance the ledger either never came or didn’t last.’
‘By comparing ancient sediment cores to modern-day plankton distribution data, the research concludes that zooplankton communities across the globe have shifted by an average of 602km since pre-industrial times […] the degree of displacement ranged from 45 to 2,557km – dependent on the degree of sea surface temperature change’. Meanwhile lab tests have worryingly shown harmful effects of plastic pollution on Prochlorococcus, ‘the most abundant photosynthetic organism on Earth, with a global population of around three octillion (~1027)’ which generate around 10% of all the oxygen in the atmosphere.
No confirmation seen yet but ‘[a] bank holiday, school half-term, the Monaco Grand Prix, and Cannes Film Festival have added to the spike’ on May 24th, ironically on the same day as the youth strike for the climate.
Two PhD researchers at the University of Cambridge recently published this article in ‘The Conversation’. The article might provide a useful primer for members of Extinction Rebellion on the topic which lays out the main pitfalls of ‘green growth’.
The world says goodbye to Tam, one of ‘fewer than 80’ remaining Sumatran rhinos in existence. This species is in critical danger of extinction, mainly due to poaching and general human encroachment on their habitat, which has limited their breeding and decreased numbers by 70% in the last 20 years.
Real Media presents criticism of the paper for its reliance on high-carbon advertising and the normalisation of high-end consumer lifestyles this fosters. Other interviewees would like to see greater leadership and more of a sense of urgency in pro-actively tackling the issue: ‘Until our media is funded in ways that don’t rely on fossil-fuel and high-carbon sponsors, or on state-controlled ownership, then we have a serious problem in conveying the urgency of the climate and ecological crisis.’
The author and co-founder of the Dark Mountain Project expresses some of his key points about modern environmentalism, arguing for a return to ecocentric thought and action rather than playing the losing game of adopting the language and priorities of capitalism (‘green growth’, ‘sustainable development’, ‘ecosystem services’ etc.) Good to see snapshots of his family life too, showing the difficult skill of how to speak honestly to children about climate change and exploring the troubling issues around how (or if!) to raise them.
Finally, apologies to Stephanie McMillan
…for not properly attributing to her the cartoon which ended newsletter #20. You can see more of her excellent, thought-provoking work via her website, and, if you have a spare 50 minutes, this talk from the Earth At Risk conference is well worth watching for the at-times breathtaking clarity of her analysis, especially on the need for revolutionary change:
‘Indeed it’s not going to be easy. We can’t conjure this movement out of thin air and it won’t be exactly what we want or we think we need. It will emerge from our current reality, flawed, chaotic and largely unpredictable. It’s not going to follow any formula but we’re not flying completely blind either. Worldwide we have a rich history of resistance and revolutionary theory to draw from.’ (watch from around 34:45)
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.
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