Newsletter 29 – Get Ready to Change the World
October 02, 2019 by Extinction Rebellion
We’ve got a big act to follow: last week saw the biggest climate mobilisation in history, with 7.6 million people in 185 countries marching and striking to call for a liveable climate.
The Global Climate Strike began three days before the UN Climate Action Summit in New York. For all the talk of “increased ambition” and a “surge of engagement”, the UN Secretary General was still frank that “we have a long way to go”.
The summit saw 77 countries commit to carbon zero by 2050. Even if this target wasn’t dramatically inconsistent with the IPCC’s own science, the commitments made are flimsy, naïve and inadequate. Once again, world leaders have shown their inability to take the survival of this species seriously.
With the Arctic sea ice now close to vanishing, financing of fossil fuels only increasing, and the broader ecological picture as grave as ever (for a summary see our new pocket-book), it’s clear that we need to reach a new level of action before it’s too late.
USA – XR raising the alarm in Washington DC
The Climate Strike alone was never going to be enough – we’ll need every person and every movement if we’re to win the change we need.
We’re so excited to share an incredible breadth of stories in this newsletter: actions held by Extinction Rebellion, Youth Strike, and so many other unions and movements; geographically ranging from Taipei to Lisbon, Beirut to Cape Town, and featuring countless other cities in an overflowing XR Unchained.
XR INDIA young people training in NVDA.
We changed the world in April – and we’ve grown a lot since then: in our numbers, in our global scale, and in the strength of our compassion. Those of our readers who were involved in events earlier this year will remember the elation, the exhaustion, and that unforgettable sense of empowered togetherness.
The next few weeks will be challenging, and things won’t always go well. But we are in this emergency together, and are here for each other: as individuals, as groups, and (as we saw this week) as humans all across the world, united in love.
NEPAL – Kathmandu monks say ‘Enough is enough!’
If you’d like to show love for and celebrate you fellow rebels all over the world, we’ve set up a Humans of XR group to help share and celebrate the many moving and uplifting stories which are the heart of our movement.
And if you’d like to share a creative response to the situation we’re in, we’re also excited to announce a new Creative Hub.
Speaking of creativity – here are some brilliant videos to share far and wide: a super-slick summary of why direct action works; an exploration of Citizens’ Assemblies; and inspiring teasers for October in English, French, Spanish, and Dutch.
We can’t wait to see what this International Rebellion will bring. We will be writing daily newsletters from October 7th to keep you updated on all the beautiful action happening around the world. Well, everything we can possibly fit into an email.
You are called on. If you do one thing with your life, do this. Not later, now.
Time is running out. Respect existence or expect resistance.
See you on the streets.
If you’d like to see previous newsletter issues, you can find them here.
As we enter this crucial phase in human history, our Rebellion will need money to make sure our message is heard. Anything you can give is appreciated.
Action Highlights (back to top)
Global Climate Strike
20 – 27 SEPT | WORLDWIDE
In the biggest climate mobilisation in history, over 7.6 million people took to the streets in 185 countries. This is more than we can cover – but below you’ll find a few examples of the countless events which took place as part of the strike.
Yellow-green convergence in France
21 SEPT | Near the Luxembourg Gardens, Paris, France
In the wake of the international Youth Strike for Climate, a special Marche pour le Climat 150,000 climate protesters strong took to the streets in France. The Parisian march ended with brave protesters, including our lovely French rebels, occupying a central bridge for over two hours.
The authorities, aware of this convergence and visibly afraid of it, strongly repressed this historic encounter by prohibiting all gatherings and deploying an excessive amount of police force. You can read a special report from one of our rebels in France here.
XR joins with Trade Unions to demand climate justice
26 SEP | 08:00 – 10:00 | Johannesburg, South Africa
Meanwhile in South Africa, Extinction Rebellion Gauteng made waves with their participation in the climate week of action. What made this incident particularly noteworthy was that rebels joined forces with SAFTU (South African Federation of Trade Unions) to coordinate an action outside the Department of Energy, demanding much-needed action on the climate and ecological crisis, as well as a transition to renewable energy. Leading the picket was Deputy General Secretary at SAFTU, Moleko Phakedi.
Campaigning for systemic change is a monumental task that requires everyone. Given the need for massive transformation, it was empowering for union voices to be represented and heard alongside Extinction Rebellion. The fight for environmental justice is also the fight for fair treatment of workers and communities, which is why the solidarity shown in Johannesburg is yet another indispensable facet of our efforts leading up to the International Rebellion. Watch an inspiring video capturing the action here!
XR Israel join thousands of protestors on the streets of Tel Aviv
27 SEP | Tel Aviv, Israel
Friday marked a new milestone for Israel’s burgeoning environmental movement, with thousands of climate strikers marching down a major road of Tel Aviv, blocking Israel’s financial centre with a die-in on the tarmac, and finally staging the country’s biggest ever action in a nearby public square – a second die-in involving 3000 protestors.
The march was fronted by XR Israel’s very own Red Brigade, who ravished onlookers on their Middle East debut with ethereal poses and a dashing sense of style. A large portion of the marchers were young School Strikers, but a coalition of Israeli environmental groups were also in attendance, including Green Course and Jewish-Arab movement Standing Together.
The event was not only especially well attended but also especially well reported, with all of Israel’s major media outlets giving the protest major coverage, a novelty in a region that has traditionally put security concerns over all others.
Israeli attitudes to the climate crisis is reaching a tipping point, with public awareness of the issue spreading like never before. Rebels reported a huge amount of support on the streets for their cause, and XR Israel is already preparing for bigger and bolder actions come October.
Rebels haunt Taipei
20 – 27 SEPT | Taipei, Taiwan
As part of the Global Climate Strike, rebels in Taipei, Taiwan fought the rain and participated in a climate march from the Legislative Yuan, around the city and back where they handed petitions to the government officials.
The group of performers were dressed in white and covered with white paint, representing the future victims of the climate crisis. They walked like spectres through the city sometimes crying and screaming. For a chilling taster, click here.
The protest was mainly attended by the youth, although there was a lot of support from ages. The organizers in Taipei pointed to the need for Taiwan to transition away from fossil fuels. They suggested that Taiwan could set an example of ‘Asian values’ by pushing renewable energy initiatives.
Lisbon rises like the water
27 SEPT | Bank of Portugal, Lisbon, Portugal
Last Friday, Portuguese rebels blocked one of Lisbon’s main avenues.
The action was led by XR Portugal and incorporated the Greve Climática Estudantil (students’ strike for climate) who also played a key role in helping to organise the action. Three unions supported the strike, one in social services and two teaching ones including what is arguably Portugal’s most powerful union.
The road chosen, Avenida Almirante Reis, is one of the most important routes through Lisbon. Rebels gathered immediately outside the country’s central bank, the Bank of Portugal. More than 500 people managed to hold the location for around four hours, sitting in the road and enjoying music, song and chanting, with a peaceful and joyful vibe, as beautifully captured in this video.
Police gave rebels three warnings to move, and organisers advised vulnerable people to leave. The many remaining peaceful rebels – some as young as 14 – eventually had to be carried away by police.
Police took rebels to a side road. This road therefore remained blocked for quite a while longer, but, after some time, their delegates plenary decided to demobilize, given the road they were now standing was not a key location, the terrain was steep and the police had confiscated their tents.
Portuguese media is reporting that the efforts of Portugal’s young people have attracted support from the president of the National Confederation of Parent Associations. João Reis of XR Portugal hopes that their call out at the end of the action will encourage more people to join XR Portugal ready for next time.
House of Placards
27 & 23 SEP | Washington DC, USA
Hundreds of climate strikers marched through the American capital on Friday, shutting down a major road during rush hour, waving XR banners, and dancing to a poignant roster of hits that included ‘Toxic’ by Britney Spears and ‘Gasolina’ by Daddy Yankee.
The shutdown was the work of a coalition of climate conscious groups that included Extinction Rebellion DC, Black Lives Matter, and the Sunrise Movement (a youth group that helped forge the Green New Deal).
The march followed a two mile route through downtown D.C. that passed the offices of major political and corporate actors seen as complicit in ecological breakdown. A speech demanding urgent action from America’s politicians was made outside the Trump International Hotel. Other stops were made at hedge fund giant BlackRock, Wells Fargo bank, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
While no arrests were made on the day, 32 DC rebels were arrested for a more widespread shut down earlier in the week, where 15 junctions were blocked causing citywide gridlock. A fetching half-pink, half-yellow Extinction Rebellion boat sailed in for the occasion, with police resorting to power tools to wrest the chained on crew from their galley. All arrested rebels were released later that night.
XR Lebanon cause a stir
14 SEP | Lebanon
This month saw the foundation of Extinction Rebellion’s first chapter in an Arabic-speaking country! XR Lebanon was set up just over two weeks ago, and has already staged two major public actions and attracted media interest.
The group marched through Beirut in solidarity with Fridays For Future Lebanon on the 20th to demand urgent climate action from the Lebanese government, and then took to the capital’s streets again the following Friday to close the week of global Climate Strikes.
Making our movement broader than ever, XR Lebanon we welcome you with open arms!
Since we can no longer fit all the beautiful, inspiring actions from the XR community into one email, we’ve created a new space called XR Unchained. Here, you can read all about actions that happen around the world, as the movement continues to grow and amaze.
This week featuring:
- Heaps of news from Spain
- Fashion week funeral
- Switzerland road block
- Luton Airport
SPAIN – Spanish rebels put on a creative performance in solidarity with the burning Amazon.
Finnish kayaks disrupt a luxury cruise ship. Small but effective. Full story here.
XR GAMBIA draw attention to the fires sweeping across Africa
SOUTH AFRICA – XR Mzansi prepares with workshops in Cape Town.
Military rebels standing to attention to the real threat.
UK – XR Doctors glue on to draw attention to the near-term consequences of the crisis for healthcare.
XR COLOMBIA rebels brought some brightness to a rainy day in Bogota.
XR HONG KONG rising like the water.
ARGENTINA – Rebels protest outside Cargill offices in Buenos Aires. See their October video here.
NEW ZEALAND rebels dress in black and line up to reach out to the public.
Announcements (back to top)
Packing your bags for October
Starting to pack for the Rebellion? Here’s a guide!
(Arrestees – take note that we suggest you bring steel cable ties. They’re more effective and less damaging than superglue at affixing human wrists to things)
Your newsletter (still) needs you!
The team behind this very email is gearing up for its most ambitious project yet: daily, international coverage for two weeks, starting October 7.
We’ve got a whole list of roles which need filling. All of them can be completed remotely, and very few need training or experience, meaning wherever you are, you can help. If you’re keen to help, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you like writing, but not newsletter writing, contact email@example.com – we love to hear from all manner of different voices.
1.5 FOR 1.5 Challenge
XR Amsterdam have proposed the ice bucket challenge of climate activism: hold your breath for 1.5 minutes on camera to show support for limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees.
Here are the simple steps you need to take part and help this campaign go viral on the 6th October.
Working Class Voices
Read a humbling and inspiring piece from a working class climate activist and urban farm owner, who shares their vision of a truly class conscious XR.
Humans of XR
‘When I read that many scientists are convinced that the catastrophe is unpreventable, I felt a kind of terror that I had never experienced before. I was alone in the library, around me everything was silent. What I had just read seemed unreal, like a nightmare. From my desk I could observe a perfect, peaceful world outside. The sea looked pure, the air smelled fresh. I asked myself how I could have ignored the problem for so long.’
The rest of Carlotta’s story, along with many others, can be found on the Humans of XR Facebook group.
News & Recommended Content (back to top)
58% of Europe’s endemic trees have been listed as ‘threatened’ in a new IUCN Red List. 15% were assessed as ‘critically endangered, or one step away from going extinct’. In North America, bird populations have suffered a net loss of 29 percent, or 2.9 billion birds since 1970.
And global wilderness areas have declined by 10% since the 1990s with the Amazon and Central Africa hardest hit. There’s a new report from the IPCC on the state of the oceans and the cryosphere (frozen water) unpacked by Carbon Brief here.
Meanwhile, the world’s largest banks have poured $1.9 trillion into fossil fuel financing since the Paris Agreement, Dr Rosemary Mason reports that Bayer is having secret meetings with the British government to determine which agrochemicals are to be used after Brexit, and it appears that between 2000 and 2016 global warming deniers were given around 50% more media coverage than climate scientists.
Even ‘green new deals’ could lead to a situation where ‘if we don’t take precautions, clean energy firms could become as destructive as fossil fuel companies’ according to Jason Hickel.
(Peñasquito silver mine in Mexico, proposed tailings dam – image source. Hickel: ‘To transition the global economy to renewables, we need to commission up to 130 more mines on the scale of Peñasquito. Just for silver.’)
Given this context Chris Hedges has argued that we ought not to be under any illusions but understand that saving the planet means overthrowing the ruling elites because ‘Voting, lobbying, petitioning and protesting to induce the ruling elites to respond rationally to the climate catastrophe have proved no more effective than scrofula victims’ appeals to Henry VIII to cure them with a royal touch.’
More prosaically, Max Wilbert points out that the recent drone attack on a Saudi oil processing facility resulted in a 50% drop in the country’s production, and by itself ‘has been more effective than the entire environmental movement, which has failed to stop the growth in fossil fuel production and consumption.’
This article calls for a re-framing of how we discuss the ecological crisis: ‘This Is Not the Sixth Extinction. It’s the First Extermination Event.‘ And Jonathan Cook has penned a useful article responding to cynicism from the left about the Greta Thunberg phenomenon.
Finally, Joanna Pocock writes about her time with Finisia Medrano, horseback rewilder on ‘the hoop’ in NW America, the Hutukara Yanaomami Association responds to President Bolsonaro’s speech to the UN General Assembly, and here’s the speech by 19-Year-Old indigenous climate activist Artemisa Xakriabá at the New York climate strike.
Thank you for reading. There’s so much exciting stuff going on that we barely have time to write this sign-off. Keep up the good work! If you have any questions or queries, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As we enter this crucial phase in human history, our Rebellion will need money to make sure our message is heard. Anything you can give is appreciated.