So...What is Extinction Rebellion?

June 4, 2019

A Rally for Climate Justice

You’ve probably heard of Extinction Rebellion, whether you’ve directly joined in on the action or you’ve just seen their name in the news. We talked to a member of Extinction Rebellion to get to the bottom of just what they are doing and why!

So, what is Extinction Rebellion?

On 31st October 2018, we assembled outside the UK Parliament to make a Declaration of Rebellion. Over one thousand people turned up to take part in peaceful civil disobedience. Amongst them, prominent writers, scientists and religious leaders- all convinced that it was no longer enough to use the ‘effective political campaign’ playbook; all ready to learn from historical examples of civil rights struggles; all willing to follow environmental activists in the global south. Since then, we have undertaken a range of actions-most during ‘Rebellion Week’ in April-underpinned by a regenerative culture of care; they are respectful and peaceful; playful yet solemn: they emphasise we are taking action and apologise for any inconvenience caused. We have seen a proliferation local groups across the UK and around the world- all adapting the Extinction Rebellion (XR) formula to suit their context. 

What are you trying to change?

We want to ensure that there is action to address ecological and climate breakdown that is commensurate with the urgency. We have three demands 

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

How are you trying to achieve that? 

Our eye-catching actions have captured the public’s imagination; the peaceful arrests of over a thousand of our activists have sent a clear message to the authorities; and we are already seeing more prominence given to ecological collapse and climate change in the mass media. Having opened space for difficult truths to be admitted, we are now encouraging governments and councils to declare a climate emergency. This is where our work begins; our system is not going to simply change overnight-even if the government set up a Citizen’s Assembly, it would then need to adopt recommendations to avoid decarbonise, reforest and re-wild. It would need to take its operation system apart nationally and globally and insist that others do the same. 

We envisage going through many cycles of action and negation. The question is: do we have enough time to make a real difference to humanity’s fate? 

Isn’t it just inconsiderate to make life difficult for people going about their daily business? 

The default answer to that question is that life is going to get immeasurably more difficult for us because we insist on going about our business (as usual.) 

But we do feel guilty about causing disruption which is why we are keeping it to the minimum needed to achieve our desired impact. One of the most heartening responses I have seen to our week of rebellion was from Londoners who appreciated the clean air and carnival atmosphere around our blockades. 

Do you think the government will listen to you?

Dialogue is beginning. Watch this space…   

For more information on Extinction Rebellion have a look at their website here