TODAY: Extinction Rebellion London to launch a “Tax Rebellion”

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  • Today, 5pm Thursday 18 July, Extinction Rebellion announce a Tax Rebellion aimed at the Greater London Authority (GLA) calling on them to act in accordance with the Mayor of London’s declaration of climate emergency
  • Rebels will assemble outside GLA offices in City Hall from 5pm to deliver a letter to the Mayor of London and the GLA
  • Londoners will be asked to withhold 22% of one month’s council tax – the average proportion which would go to the GLA

The Mayor of London declared a Climate Emergency in December, failure to act accordingly threatens the lives of millions of Londoners. This demands action…

Following the London Mayors declaration of climate emergency, Londoners are being asked to support a Tax Rebellion to demand action not rhetoric. Talks and feedback sessions will be held over the next six weeks to galvanise support for the Tax Rebellion. 

As five cities unite in a Summer Uprising, Extinction Rebellion London will hold a public launch of the Tax Rebellion, assembling at 5pm on Thursday 18 July, in front of City Hall, where they will declare their intention to strike and convey their demands in a letter to the Mayor of London and the GLA. [1] Talks will be held on the tradition of tax strikes as a form of civil disobedience and demands for a greener, fairer London will be outlined. 

So far more than 50 people have pledged to join the strike and withhold 22% of one month’s council tax. Money withheld will be redirected to a Tax Rebellion Fund, to be managed by an independent body. Collection of funds will only begin once 2700 people have pledged to join. 

Emma Wills, 35, Producer, who has pledged to take part in the Tax Rebellion said: “The GLA is using our money to fund construction, waste and transport projects that are making the climate crisis worse instead of better. 

“The position of the Tax Rebellion is simple: we think that they should be spending our cash educating us – and that means a truly representative cross section of society not just the politically engaged – on the issues we are facing; enabling us to react to those issues swiftly and decisively with a legitimate public mandate so we can stop wasting time and get on with transforming this city into a world leader in biodiversity rehabilitation, carbon reduction policy and projects.”

The Tax Rebellion will continue until the GLA agrees to:

  1. To immediately stop all infrastructure projects inconsistent with achieving carbon neutrality by 2025. In particular, the development of the Silvertown Tunnel, the Bow East concrete plant in Newham and the Edmonton incinerator in Enfield must all be stopped.
  2. To empower a London Citizens’ Assembly to create an Emergency London Plan, replacing the 2020 London Plan.

Unless the GLA agrees to meet our demands, the Tax Rebellion Fund will be used to finance a London Citizens’ Assembly to rewrite the 2020 London Plan into an Emergency London Plan, putting biodiversity, climate change resilience, and human wellbeing at the forefront of a strategy to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025. 

Notes to editors

[1] Letter to the Greater London Assembly

City Hall, More London Riverside, London SE1 2AA

Thursday 18 July 2019

To the Mayor of London and members of the Greater London Authority (GLA) assembly, 

You have said yourself, we are in a climate and ecological emergency. After meeting with you in April, we hoped you understood what this means; we saw your appeal to the central government to do more and the investment in the ULEZ scheme. Indeed we saw a clean, just and more beautiful London on the horizon. 

Today we declare our Tax Rebellion with love for this dream of a city in our hearts, a city that nurtures life over death and concrete. We declare our Tax Rebellion with rage for the reality that you have forced upon us. 

The city of our dreams challenges the developed world’s march towards extinction, it does not profit from the destruction of nature, the deaths of millions in the majority world, it does not inflame the lungs of our children. This city of our dreams is the hope of a better world, it is shaped by all of its citizens, it cares for all its inhabitants, human and non-human, living or yet to be born. It is a city that stands up for life.

Whilst London’s most powerful authority raises a greedy, profit-driven, progress-blind machine, we will rebel. Our money will not support an institution complicit in ecological destruction in London and across the world. 

That is why, over the next few months, we will not pay the GLA’s precept until you:

  1. Immediately stop and oppose all infrastructure projects inconsistent with achieving carbon net zero by 2025. This means halting the development of the Silvertown Tunnel, the Bow East concrete plant and the Edmonton incinerator.
  2. Empower a London Citizens’ Assembly to create an Emergency London Plan for climate and ecological justice, replacing the 2020 London Plan, and prioritizing the needs of London’s most vulnerable.

We believe in the importance of tax; it is our mutual investment in society. But your vision for London threatens our futures. If you fail to act on our demands, the funds withheld will be redirected to fund our own London-wide Citizen’s Assembly to design an Emergency London Plan. This would place biodiversity, climate change resilience, and human wellbeing for everyone at the forefront of a strategy to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025. 

We fear for our lives and our children’s lives. We are left with no option but to disobey. We act now, in love and rage.

Extinction Rebellion 

Why the GLA?

The GLA and the Mayor’s Office are responsible for London’s overall vision, air quality, spatial development and transport. The London Plan is the document that sets out the policy for these areas, directing the planning of London’s 33 councils. This makes it a key target for driving large-scale change across London, with a new version due for release in 2020. 

If the GLA fails to address XR’s demands, the redirected tax funds shall be used to fund an impartial Citizens’ Assembly to draft an Emergency London Plan. More details on Citizens’ Assemblies, including how they are designed and run can be found here

The GLA budget is partially raised through a ‘precept’ on council tax across the London boroughs. On average, 22% of Londoners’ council tax funds the GLA. It is this portion that London rebels are being asked to withhold and redirect to fund a London Citizens’ Assembly. The remit of this Citizens’ Assembly will be to re-write the London Plan into an Emergency London Plan commensurate with the reality of the Climate and Ecological Emergency, prioritising a socially just transition.

When 2,700 have pledged to join, the Tax Rebellion will start!

What is a tax strike? 

Taxation underpins democracy – it is our mutual investment in society.  Refusing to pay tax has been used historically as an act of resistance against unjust leadership. For example: the Suffragettes’ “no vote, no tax”; the refusal to pay Thatcher’s poll tax; and salt tax resistance in colonial British India. There a clear historical precedent for what Extinction Rebellion are proposing. The ecocidal policies of the UK Government and the complicity of the Greater London Authority justify this peaceful act of civil disobedience. 

More recently, tax rebellion has also been utilised by Rising Up, with the “Golden Rule Tax Disobedience” intending to mobilise people against systemic injustice. In addition, an Extinction Rebellion rebel, Imogen May, has refused to pay council tax to raise awareness of the need to use tax for sustainable projects.

Information about the three developments: 

  1. The proposed Silvertown Tunnel – a twin-bore road tunnel under the Thames in east London that will link the Greenwich Peninsula and Silvertown. Construction could begin in late 2019 or 2020, with the new tunnel expected to open from 2025. The aim is to reduce congestion at the Blackwall tunnel, but this fails to acknowledge studies showing that new roads fill to capacity. The project is thus likely to increase pollution in South East London, harming local residents’ health. 
  2. The construction of a new waste plant in Edmonton – as the current Edmonton incinerator closes down, plans have been made to replace it with one of the largest incinerators in Europe. The new incinerator is planned under the aegis of the North London Waste Authority (NLWA). The estimated cost is £650 million, burning 700,000 tonnes of waste, much of which is recyclable, every year. This massive investment would be better spent on increased recycling and composting, and reducing waste.
  3. Bow East concrete plant – having successfully resisted a concrete batching and asphalt factory proposed in Bow Goods Yard in 2016, communities in East London now face a renewed onslaught from developers attempting to place another concrete plant at the same site. Production of cement, the key ingredient in concrete, accounts for up to 8% of global carbon emissions, so reducing its use is of critical importance in fighting climate change. The new plant would have an adverse impact on local air quality, health and the environment, and demonstrates disdain for the wishes of local residents who have already made their feelings clear.

More about Extinction Rebellion:

Extinction Rebellion’s top-line demands:

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

What emergency? | Extinction Rebellion in Numbers

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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 while the tools of civil disobedience and direct action are used to express our collective power.

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