Celebrities backing Extinction Rebellion say ‘yes, we are all hypocrites’ in open letter to media

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  • Open letter signed by more than 100 high-profile names, including actors Jude Law, Benedict Cumberbatch and Jamie Winstone, musicians Mel B, Natalie Imbruglia and Thom Yorke, and comedians Steve Coogan and Ruby Wax
  • List of notable names admit hypocrisy and urge that attention is drawn to the more pressing issue of the Climate and Ecological Emergency
  • Signatories stand firm that they will continue to speak out on the issue despite the criticisms they face from the media

Celebrities have issued a mea culpa to the media today in response to criticism that they are guilty of being hypocrites for backing Extinction Rebellion and continuing to live high carbon lives. The open letter has been signed by more than 100 high profile names, including actors, musicians, comedians, writers and even a former Archbishop of Canterbury.

Countless notable figures have chosen to back Extinction Rebellion in recent weeks, including a number who have visited the Rebellion sites. In almost all cases there has been a follow-up article in the media criticising them for being hypocrites.

Sarah Lunnon of Extinction Rebellion said: “We are so impressed by these personalities for coming forward. It’s easy to call people out for being hypocrites but that’s really a distraction from the much bigger, and perhaps more confronting conversation we need to have about the unworkable system in which we live. None of us is perfect. What matters is that more and more people are ready to talk about transforming how we relate to the planet, and we are prepared to put our liberty on the line to do so.”

The letter starts: 

Dear journalists who have called us hypocrites,

‘You’re right. 

‘We live high carbon lives and the industries that we are part of have huge carbon footprints. Like you – and everyone else – we are stuck in this fossil-fuel economy and without systemic change, our lifestyles will keep on causing climate and ecological harm.

Despite the criticism they face, the signatories say that they are resolute in still speaking out on the issue of the climate and ecological emergency. The letter also urges the media to do more to support the cause. The letter goes on to say: ‘The stories that you write calling us climate hypocrites will not silence us.

‘The media exists to tell the public the truth. Right now there has never been a more urgent need for you to educate yourselves on the CEE (Climate and Ecological Emergency) and to use your voices to reach new audiences with the truth.’

Steve Coogan said: “Extinction Rebellion is a grassroots movement that should be applauded for putting this issue at the top of the agenda where it belongs.

“I stand in full support of these brave, determined activists who are making a statement on behalf of us all.”

Actor Jaime Winstone said: “I will continue to change my life for the greater good for the planet.

“I will continue to push for climate justice…we all need to change the way we live our lives for a healthier living planet and stop living in denial that climate crisis isn’t real.

“It’s happening. We all need to make changes if we want to survive and our children to thrive.”

The full text of the letter reads:

Dear journalists who have called us hypocrites,

You’re right. 

We live high carbon lives and the industries that we are part of have huge carbon footprints. Like you – and everyone else – we are stuck in this fossil-fuel economy and without systemic change, our lifestyles will keep on causing climate and ecological harm. 

There is, however, a more urgent story that our profiles and platforms can draw attention to.

Life on earth is dying.  We are living in the midst of the 6th mass extinction. For those who still doubt the severity of our situation, here is the International Monetary Fund on 10th October 2019 :

“Global warming causes major damage to the global economy and the natural world and engenders risks of catastrophic and irreversible outcomes”

And here is Sir David Attenborough on 3rd December 2018 : 

“Right now, we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale. Our greatest threat in thousands of years. Climate change. If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.” 

Climate change is happening faster and more furiously than was predicted; millions of people are suffering, leaving their homes and arriving on our borders as refugees. 

Alongside these people who are already paying the price for our fossil fuelled economy, there are millions of children – called to action by Greta Thunberg – who are begging us, the people with power and influence, to stand up and fight for their already devastated future.

We cannot ignore their call.  Even if by answering them we put ourselves in your firing line.

The stories that you write calling us climate hypocrites will not silence us.  

The media exists to tell the public the truth. Right now there has never been a more urgent need for you to educate yourselves on the CEE (Climate and Ecological Emergency) and to use your voices to reach new audiences with the truth. 

We invite all people with platforms and profiles to join us and move beyond fear, to use your voices fearlessly to amplify the real story.

Thousands of ordinary people are risking their freedom by taking part in non-violent civil disobedience.  We’ve been inspired by their courage to speak out and join them. We beg you to do the same.

With love,

Riz Ahmed (actor), Simon Amstell (comedien), Mel B – Spice Girls (musician), Matt Berry (actor), Melanie Blatt – All Saints (musician), Baroness Rosie Boycott, Rory Bremner (comedien), Tom Burke (actor), David Byrne – Talking Heads (musician),  Peter Capaldi (actor), Jake Chapman (artist), Mary Charteris (model / musician/ DJ), Grace Chatto – Clean Bandit (musician), Adam Clayton – U2 (musician), Jarvis Cocker (musician), Lily Cole (actor & model), Steve Coogan (actor), Laura Crane (pro surfer & model), Alfonso Cuaron (director), Benedict Cumberbatch (actor), Stephen Daldry (director), Poppy Delevingne (actor / model), Jeremy Deller (artist), Emily Eavis (Glastonbury Festival), Katy England (fashion stylist), Brian Eno (musician),  Paapa Essiedu (actor), Livia Firth (Eco Age – founder), Jerome Flynn (actor), Stephen Frears (director), Bella Freud (designer), Sonia Friedman OBE (producer), Neil Gaiman (writer), Bob Geldof (musician and campaigner), Aileen Getty (activist and philanthropist),  Simon Green – Bonobo (musician), Natalie Imbruglia (singer), Helena Kennedy QC, Idris Khan OBE (artist), Vanessa Kirby (actor), Nan Goldin (artist), Antony Gormley (artist), Jack and Finn Harries (film-makers and influencers), MJ Harper (dancer), Paul and Phil Hartnoll – Orbital (musicians), Lena Headly (actor), Imogen Heap (musician), Dr. Pam Hogg (fashion designer), Jon Hopkins (musician), Nick Hornby (writer), Julietthe Larthe (producer), Jude Law (actor), Howard and Guy Lawrence – Disclosure (musicians), Daisy Lowe (model), Phil Manzanera – Roxy Music (musician), Simon McBurney OBE (theatre maker), Ian McEwan (writer), Fernando Meirelles (director), Sienna Miller (actor), George Monbiot (journalist), David Morrissey (actor), Sir Michael and Lady Clare Morpurgo (writer), Sophie Muller (director), Robert Del Naja – Massive Attack (musician), Andrea (Andi) Oliver (TV chef), Chris Packham (conservationist), Amanda Palmer (musician), Cornelia Ann Parker OBE (artist), Bill Paterson (actor), Caius Pawson (Young Turks – Founder and XL Recordings – A&R Director), Grayson Perry (artist & broadcaster),  Gilles Peterson (DJ & broadcaster), Yannis Philippakis and Edwin Congreave – Foals (musicians), Jason Pierce – Spiritualized (musician), Heydon Prowse (writer and director), Jonathan Pryce (actor), Gareth Pugh (designer), Sir Mark Rylance (actor), Nitin Sawney (musician), Tracey Seaward (film producer), Wilf Scolding (actor), Alison Steadman (actor), Juliet Stevenson (actor), Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi (Preen by Thornton Bregazzi, designers), Geoff Travis (Rough Trade, founder), Gavin Turk (artist), Mark Wallinger (artist), Ruby Wax (writer, performer and comedian), Rowan Williams (theologian), Jaime Winstone (actor), Ray Winstone (actor), Jeanette Winterstone (writer), Thom Yorke (musician), Dan Haggis, Matthew Murphy & Tord Øverland Knudsen – The Wombats (musicians), Deborah Curtis (artist),   and Lady Clare Morpurgo, Geoff Jukes (music manager), Joe Murphy (playwright), David Lan (theatre writer and producer), Alice Aedy (photographer), Kate Fahy (actor), Fay Milton – Savages (musician), Johnny Flynn (actor and musician), William Rees – Mystery Jets (musician), Flora Starkey (floral artist), MJ Delaney (director), Brian Ogle (architect),James Suckling (fashion consultant), Miquita Oliver (presenter), A Fletcher Cowan (presenter), Eliza Caird (musician), Lee Sharrock (PR and curator), Joe Robertson (playwright), Olivia Calverley (TV producer), Tia Grazette (creative director), Sam Conniff (author and pirate), Stefan Bartlett (designer), Matt Lambert (artist), J. Doyne Farmer (Baillie Gifford Professor, Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford), Carolyn Benson (Benson Studios Interior Design), Georgina Goodwin (broadcaster), Jon McClure – Reverend and the Makers (musician), Ruth Daniel (cultural producer), David Graeber (anthropologist and writer), George Hencken (film maker), Ebe Oke (musician), Evgeny Morozov (writer), Anthony Barnett, (Co-Founder, openDemocracy), Henry Porter (novelist), Warren Ellis – Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds (musician), Jonathan Reekie (Somerset House, director), Theresa Boden (actor/writer), Nick Welsh (designer/producer), Louis Savage (A&R rep), Guy Standing (economist), Pippa Small MBE (designer), Peter Marston (designer), Richard Sennett OBE FBA, Clare Kenny (musician), Ginevra Elkann (director), John Reynolds (music producer), Laurence Bell (Domino Records, founder), Margy Fenwick (landscape gardener), Seb Rochford (musician), Nick Laird-Clowes (musician), Roman Krznaric (philosopher), Will McEwan (scientist), Beth Orton (musician), Dawn Starin (anthropologist), Charlotte Trench (actor and director), Jonathan Glazer (director), Iain Forsyth (artist), Jane Pollard (artist), Ian Rickson (director),Sam Lee (musician), ​David Lan – ​DL (producer and writer), Liz Jensen (author), Michael Pawlyn (architect), Simon Stephens (playwrite), Kobi Prempeh (curator), Steve Tompkins (architect), Annie Morris (artist), Conrad Shawcross (artist), Mira Calix (artist), Andy Holden (artist), Andrew O’Hagan (writer), David Lan – DL (producer and writer), Alison Brooks (architect), Prof Sadie Morgan (architect), Ackroyd & Harvey (Artists), Eva Wiseman (editor), Mark Wallinger (artist), Carson McCol (artist), Ivan Harbour (architect), Angharad Cooper (producer), Jem Finer (musician and artist), Rauol Martinez (writer and filmmaker), Francesca Martinez (comedien and writer), Glen Hansard (musician), Frances Stoner Saunders (writer), Geeta Dayal (writer), Amanda Levete (architect) Jack Penate (singer) and Ted Cullinan MBE RDI RA (architect).

ENDS

Notes for Editors

About Extinction Rebellion:

Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, 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.

What emergency? | Extinction Rebellion in Numbers |This Is Not A Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook.

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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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