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Extinction Rebellion (abbreviated as XR) is a socio-political movement with the stated aim of using civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance to compel government action on climate breakdown, biodiversity loss, and the risk of social and ecological collapse.[1][3][4]

Extinction Rebellion
Extinction-rebellion.jpg
Named afterAnthropocene extinction
MottoRebel for life
Formation31 October 2018; 10 months ago (2018-10-31)
TypeCivil society campaign
PurposeClimate change mitigation
Nature conservation
Environmental protection
Region
International
MethodsNonviolent direct action
FieldsConservation movement
Environmental movement
AffiliationsRising Up![1]
The Climate Mobilization[2]
Websiterebellion.earth

Extinction Rebellion was established in the United Kingdom in May 2018 with about one hundred academics signing a call to action in support in October 2018,[5] and launched at the end of October by Roger Hallam and Gail Bradbrook, and other activists from the campaign group Rising Up!.[6] In November 2018, 5 bridges across the Thames River in London were blockaded.[7] In April 2019 Extinction Rebellion occupied 5 prominent sites in central London: Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Circus, Marble Arch, Waterloo Bridge and the area around Parliament Square.

Citing inspiration from grassroots movements such as Occupy, Satyagraha,[7] the suffragettes,[7] Gene Sharp,[8] and the civil rights movement,[7] Extinction Rebellion wants to rally support worldwide around a common sense of urgency to tackle climate breakdown.[9][7] A number of activists in the movement accept arrest and imprisonment,[10] similar to the mass arrest tactics of the Committee of 100 in 1961.

The movement uses a circled hourglass, known as the extinction symbol, to serve as a warning that time is rapidly running out for many species.[11][12]

ManifestoEdit

 
Extinction Rebellion placard. Its logotype with the "extinction symbol".

DemandsEdit

Extinction Rebellion's website states the following aims:[13][14]

  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.

Stated principlesEdit

XR states the following on its website and explains the following in its declaration:[15][3]

  1. "We have a shared vision of change—creating a world that is fit for generations to come.
  2. We set our mission on what is necessary—mobilising 3.5% of the population to achieve system change by using ideas such as "momentum-driven organising" to achieve this.
  3. We need a regenerative culture—creating a culture that is healthy, resilient, and adaptable.
  4. We openly challenge ourselves and this toxic system, leaving our comfort zones to take action for change.
  5. We value reflecting and learning, following a cycle of action, reflection, learning, and planning for more action (learning from other movements and contexts as well as our own experiences).
  6. We welcome everyone and every part of everyone—working actively to create safer and more accessible spaces.
  7. We actively mitigate for power—breaking down hierarchies of power for more equitable participation.
  8. We avoid blaming and shaming—we live in a toxic system, but no one individual is to blame.
  9. We are a non-violent network using non-violent strategy and tactics as the most effective way to bring about change.
  10. We are based on autonomy and decentralisation—we collectively create the structures we need to challenge power. Anyone who follows these core principles and values can take action in the name of Extinction Rebellion."[16]

BeginningsEdit

Extinction Rebellion was established in the United Kingdom in May 2018 with about one hundred academics signing a call to action in support in October 2018,[5] and launched at the end of October by Roger Hallam, Gail Bradbrook, Simon Bramwell, and other activists from the campaign group Rising Up![6]

Citing inspiration from grassroots movements such as Occupy, Gandhi's Satyagraha,[7] the suffragettes,[7] Gene Sharp,[8] Martin Luther King and others in the civil rights movement,[7] Extinction Rebellion wants to rally support worldwide around a common sense of urgency to tackle climate breakdown.[9] A number of activists in the movement accept arrest and imprisonment,[10] similar to the mass arrest tactics of the Committee of 100 in 1961.

On 9 December 2018, a second open letter of support signed by another hundred academics was published.[17]

ActionsEdit

 
"Rebellion Day" on Blackfriars Bridge, 17 November 2018

Extinction Rebellion has taken a variety of actions since 2018 in the UK, USA, Australia and elsewhere.

UK actionsEdit

An assembly of more than 1000 people took place at Parliament Square, London on 31 October 2018, to hear the "Declaration of Rebellion"[18] and occupy the road in front of the Houses of Parliament.[18] In November 2018, activists blockaded the UK's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy;[19] unveiled a banner over Westminster Bridge;[20] glued themselves to the gates of Downing Street;[21] and closed an access road to Trafalgar Square.[22] On "Rebellion Day" about 6,000 people blocked the five main bridges over the River Thames in London for several hours[7]The Guardian described it as "one of the biggest acts of peaceful civil disobedience in the UK in decades".[7][23] On "Rebellion Day 2", the roads around Parliament Square were blocked and a mock funeral march travelled to Downing Street and Buckingham Palace;[24] there were also actions in Manchester,[25] Sheffield,[26] Machynlleth[27] and Edinburgh.[28]

In January 2019, XR staged an occupation of the Scottish Parliament's debating chamber in Holyrood, Edinburgh.[29] In February council chambers were also occupied by XR groups in Norwich[30] and Gloucestershire.[31] A week later neighbouring Somerset County Council declared a climate emergency, citing school strikers and XR as having some input into the decision.[32] In late February, following an XR petition, Reading Borough Council also declared a climate emergency,[33] aiming to cut carbon emissions by 2030, a week after discussions with the XR Reading group[34] and a day after the warmest winter day on record in the UK.[35]

In February, 'Swarming' roadblocks were held outside London Fashion Week venues[36] and XR called on the British Fashion Council to declare a 'climate emergency', and for the industry to take a leading role in tackling climate change.[37] In March, around 400 protesters poured buckets of fake blood on the road outside Downing Street to represent the threatened lives of children.[38] On 1 April, protesters undressed and glued themselves to the glass in the House of Commons viewing gallery during a debate on Brexit.[39]

 
Extinction Rebellion, Oxford Circus, London, April 19, 2019

Starting Monday 15 April, Extinction Rebellion organised demonstrations in London, focusing on Oxford Circus, Marble Arch, Waterloo Bridge and the area around Parliament Square.[40][41] The intersection of Oxford Street and Regent Street (Oxford Circus) was blocked with a boat, to which activists glued themselves,[42] as well as gazebos, potted plants and trees, a mobile stage and a skate ramp. Sites at Marble Arch, Waterloo Bridge and the area around Parliament Square were also occupied[43] and Shell Oil Company's headquarters was targeted.[44] On 16 April on Waterloo Bridge, police stopped making arrests after running out of holding cells.[45] By the end of that day an estimated 500,000 people had been affected by the disruptions and 290 activists had been arrested in London.[46] In Scotland, more than 1,000 protesters occupied the North Bridge in Edinburgh for seven hours. On 17 April activists climbed onto the roof of a Docklands Light Railway train at Canary Wharf station whilst another glued himself to the side.[47] On 18 April, the fourth day of continuous occupations at the four locations, the arrest figure had risen to 428.[42] Also on 18 April activists held a series of swarming (short duration) roadblocks on Vauxhall Bridge.[48] On 19 April, around a dozen teenagers approached the access road to Heathrow Airport holding a banner.[49] Police partially cleared the Oxford Circus site, including removing the boat, whilst activists still occupied the road.[50] The police said 682 people had thus far been arrested in London.[49] On 25 April protesters glued themselves across the entrances to the London Stock Exchange,[51] whilst others climbed on to a Docklands Light Railway train at Canary Wharf holding banners.[51] Activists gathered at Hyde Park to end the 11-day demonstrations in London, during which 1,130 people had been arrested.[52]

In July in East London there was a series of seven-minute Dalston traffic blockades, a mass bike ride through the A10, Olympic park traffic blocks, and a people's assembly outside Hackney town hall.[53] Also in July, protests in Bristol, Leeds, Cardiff, Glasgow and London focused on different threats for each city, with a boat in each location.[54]

New York City actionsEdit

On January 26, 2019, Extinction Rebellion NYC activists formed the extinction symbol with their bodies on the ice at the Rockefeller Center ice skating rink. An activist climbed and hung a banner on the large gold Prometheus statue.[55] On April 17, 2019, over 60 activists were arrested at a die-in in the streets around New York City Hall.[56] On June 22, 2019, 70 activists were arrested for blocking traffic outside of The New York Times headquarters in midtown Manhattan.[57] On August 10, 2019, over 100 people were arrested at a joint-protest shutting down the West Side Highway, in protest at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency's human rights abuses at the US-Mexico border and its role in mass deportations.[58] On September 5, 2019, traffic was blocked at multiple intersections in midtown Manhattan to bring attention to the fires in Amazonia.[59] On September 6, 2019, an XR activist climbed the Unisphere in Queens, New York.[60]

Actions elsewhereEdit

 
"Declaration Day" at the Victorian State Government, 22 March 2019

Extinction Rebellion Australia held a "Declaration Day" on 22 March 2019 in Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney, and Brisbane.

In the week beginning 15 April 2019,[7] XR activists occupied the Parliament of Australia's House of Representatives[61] and part of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, forming human chains.[62] Similar actions took place in Berlin, Heidelberg, Brussels, Lausanne, Madrid,[63] Denver and Melbourne.[64] Also, a railway line in Brisbane, Australia was disrupted.[65]

Legal consequencesEdit

In June and July 2019 some of the Extinction Rebellion supporters arrested that April appeared in court in the UK. On 25 June a 68-year-old protester was convicted of breaching a section 14 order giving police the power to clear static protests from a specified area, and given a conditional discharge.[66] On 12 April over 30 protesters appeared in court, each charged with being a public assembly participant failing to comply with a condition imposed by a senior police officer at various locations on various dates. Some pleaded guilty, and were mostly given conditional discharges. The trials of those who pleaded not guilty are to take place in September and October.[67]

SupportEdit

During the 'International Rebellion' which started on 15 April 2019, actions and messages of support arrived from various sources, including a speech by actress Emma Thompson, a planned visit by school strike leader Greta Thunberg, and statements from former Nasa scientist James Hansen and linguist and activist Noam Chomsky.[42]

A study conducted during the first two days of the mid-April London occupation found that 46% of respondents supported the rebellion,[68] however a larger opinion poll later found that support had declined and that 52% of respondents now opposed actions aiming to "shut down London"[69] as the protests on 17 April blocked access to means of transport including buses, alienating travellers.[70][71]

In May 2019, Roger Hallam and eight others stood as candidates in the European Parliament elections in the London and the South West England constituencies as Climate Emergency Independents.[72][73] Between them, they won 7,416 out of the 3,917,854 total votes cast in the two constituencies.[74][75]

In June 2019, 1,000 healthcare professionals in the UK and elsewhere, including professors, public health figures, and former presidents of royal colleges, called for widespread non-violent civil disobedience in response to "woefully inadequate" government policies on the unfolding ecological emergency. They called on politicians and the news media to face the facts of the unfolding ecological emergency and take action. They supported the school strike movement and Extinction Rebellion.[76]

In July 2019 Trevor Neilson, Rory Kennedy and Aileen Getty launched the Climate Emergency Fund (CEF),[77][78] inspired by Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion protesters in the UK in April.[79] It donated almost half a million pounds to Extinction Rebellion groups in New York City and Los Angeles and school strike for climate groups in the US.[77][78][79] In September 2019 Getty pledged $600,000 (£487,000) to the Fund.[80]

CriticismEdit

The movement has been criticised by some for making unrealistic demands.[81] The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, which supports its course of strong action and demands, said that the timeframe being urged by XR was "an ambition that technically, economically and politically has absolutely no chance of being fulfilled." They calculated that to go net zero by 2025, flying would need to be scrapped and 38 million cars (both petrol and diesel) would need to be removed from the roads. In addition, 26 million gas boilers would need to be disconnected in six years.[82]

BibliographyEdit

  • This Is Not a Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook. London: Penguin, 2019. ISBN 9780141991443.[83][84]
  • Our Fight. By Juliana Muniz Westcott. 2019. ISBN 978-1793258366.

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit