This could get controversial… and that’s okay. That’s how these things get heard. That’s how these things get understood. That’s how change happens. Time and time again, through history, civil disobedience has proven its effectiveness and I am proud to have been a part of the monumental marching that took place in April.
The day involved marching from about 11-4 with large groups of like-minded, beautiful people. Observing and learning, gaining a new lease of life and motivation, and pushing further into the future and change. Lots of people stayed overnight, some for weeks. Extinction Rebellion is a non-violent, peaceful group and this International Rebellion happened across 27 countries. I had a wonderful day. There seems to be a skewed idea about who XR are, perhaps due to the media, perhaps due to close-minded individuals refusing to acknowledge new ideas. So I thought I’d do my bit to clear that up…
Extinction Rebellion’s 3 demands are:
- Tell the truth: the government must tell the truth, declare a climate and ecological emergency and work with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
- Act now: the government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
- Beyond politics: the government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.
Shortly after the marches in April, the first demand was met (pretty much); parliament voted unanimously to declare a climate and environment emergency, which makes us the first country to do so. This simply would not have happened without the demonstrations by the people of XR a mere 2 weeks earlier. Greenpeace also carried out a poll which found that 2/3 of the UK now recognise that there is a climate emergency, and that 3/4 would cast their vote differently to protect our planet, which is incredibly promising.
XR have also met with Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, who admitted he needs to do more for both London and the world when it comes to climate change. John McDonnell, a Labour MP, met with XR and acknowledged that previous Labour environmental policy had failed to meet what was needed, and promised to set up follow-up meetings with XR so that they could present their demands to the entire shadow cabinet. There were also meetings with Jeremy Corbyn, and though neither would commit to changing the carbon emissions net zero date from 2050, they did agree to consider a new target of 2030.
Finally, XR met with environment secretary Michael Gove. He refused to declare a climate emergency, saying he couldn’t take such a position by himself. The only thing he agreed to was to meet with Sadiq Khan to discuss a Citizens’ Assembly, and a second round of talks with XR. So, not a total loss.
A big part of these demos were the arrests. This isn’t an aspect of all marches, but one that XR decided to include. I personally did not get arrested, but many people did – even a man in his 80s for sitting on top of a train carriage. If you are put off by the idea of this, please be assured it is not a necessity! Just a step that some demonstrators choose to take. If you attend XR meetings in your nearest town/city, they will talk you through the process of this and how to be arrested safely/not at all.
What Can I Do?
If you’re feeling inspired by the marches and other demos across the country – or even in other countries – check out the XR website linked at the top of this post and follow them for details on anything you might be able to join in on – demos are happening all the time. If you’re a little daunted by that, just follow them on social media and maybe do a few posts of support yourself. Spreading the word and telling the truth is just as important as anything else.
At the end of the day, all a march really involves is walking side by side with people who have the same deep-rooted, passionate beliefs that you do. Nothing else is required of you.
Extinction Rebellion are holding another International Rebellion starting on October 7th 2019. This is what they have to say about their plans: “In October 2018, we declared The Rebellion. In April 2019, we declared The Emergency. In October 2019, we will declare The Truth.” If you can, please please get involved however you can, and shout about it!