Newsletter 33: Good COP Bad COP
December 18, 2019 by XR Newsletter
Dearest rebels, welcome to the last XR Newsletter of the year – and indeed, the decade.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for everything you do. Whether you are a donor, volunteer, brave arrestable or quiet supporter, rest assured you are vital to the movement and XR would not exist without you. Thank you.
Today we bring you another mega-issue, bursting with stories from all around the world. Firstly, the results (or lack of them) during the COP in Madrid are proof enough that our leaders have abandoned their people. As you can read below, the whole event was characterized by a lack of decisiveness or positive action. Ultimately, chaos was the only obvious outcome of the Conference of the Parties.
After four weeks of exceptional endurance, courage and empathy on the part of the rebels, the Global Hunger Strike is now winding down, but it’s seen huge support from the worldwide community. As has an international wave of Civil-Discobedience, which seems to have struck a chord with rebels and the public alike, bringing people out onto the streets to celebrate life and hope through music and dance.
Other stories covered in this issue include: a Cube of Truth from XR Greece, a pipeline protest from XR Israel, the terrible mistreatment of French rebels in Lyon, and an inspiring action from XR Sri Lanka, who are replanting the rainforest!
Also, don’t miss this issue’s History Corner – discussing the rise of the Peaceful Revolution, the fall of the Berlin wall, and the part that an environmental newsletter played in changing history.
Finally, as we collectively draw a line under 2019, we invite you all to reflect on where we are as a species and as a people. The world is entering a new age of urgency. The next five to ten years will be a time of unparalleled global change, and we will certainly be tested, both as individuals and as a society.
Rest assured, dear rebels, we will be sharing this journey together, as we move, inexorably and peacefully, toward a new global paradigm.
If you’d like to see previous newsletter issues, you can find them here.
This Rebellion needs your support. If you can’t give time, consider giving money.
- Action Highlights
- XR Unchained
- History Corner
- XR Content
COP25 – The Good, the Bad & the Useless
2nd – 15th DEC | Madrid, Spain
“We are coming together to bear witness to the disaster of COP25”
There is a deep sense of sadness, disappointment and anger at the complete lack of tangible progress made by world leaders during the Conference of the Parties in Madrid. With an estimated 500,000 people taking to the streets, XR has been busy campaigning alongside Greta Thunberg, Fridays for Future, world scientists, indigeneous & grassroots climate leaders and many, many thousands more.
We have seen some outstanding actions, with rebels working incredibly hard to be noticed and heard: from the celebratory Discobedience to the sombre Marcha de los Mares Muertos, and even a pile of horse manure to acknowledge the end of the conference.
Watch a full round of actions at the COP here.
There is a sense that rich countries, who are principally responsible for the climate emergency have spent the talks dialing back ambition and blocking progress. Following the US pulling out of the Paris Agreement, they have been actively undermining the process.
“This is the worst I have seen in the last 10 years of me attending negotiations,” said Harjeet Singh, climate change specialist at Action Aid from New Delhi, India. “It can’t get worse than that. It’s arm-twisting and bullying at the highest level.”
In general, there is very strong and clear criticism from civil society about the way in which the talks have been conducted. The market-based suggestions brought forward are making things worse for people who are not responsible for this emergency situation.
“As we sit here, 45 million people in Africa are facing the wrath of climate change. And that is the reality […] Now, this system, the United Nations system on climate change, is broken. It has not been able to help these people.”
Global Hunger Strike – Four Weeks On
18th NOV – 14th DEC | Worldwide
On the 18th November, over 500 rebels in 28 countries joined in a Global Hunger Strike that highlighted the vulnerability of our food systems, and express solidarity with those already starving because of climate and ecological breakdown.
At the end of last week, now risking their long-term health, three hunger strikers in the UK and one in Australia continued their protest. The four rebels chose to stage their hunger strikes on the very doorstep of power: political party headquarters in the UK, Victoria State Parliament in Australia.
Rebels supporting the hunger strikers as well as high-profile visitors expressed how deeply moved they were by the strikes, describing the support and sense of community as “humbling and beautiful”.
However, political response to the strikes in the UK and Australia, has been sadly lukewarm. Though a small number of politicians came forward and engaged with the rebels on hunger strike, a large number, including political leaders, stayed away. On the night of the UK General Election, the striking rebels camped outside the re-elected PM’s party headquarters in freezing conditions. Disappointingly, the PM never once made eye contact with them.
Similarly, in Australia, hunger striker Dave was dismayed that after 28 days of visible presence – with flags and posters drawing attention to his frequently solitary hunger strike – only nine members of the State Parliament had come to meet him. He commented, “I felt it was the absolute minimum … and I am surprised at just how hard it has been.”
But the small number of politicians engaging with the hunger strikers does not mean it has been without impact. UK hunger striker Petra recalled how profound conversations took place on the pavement with members of the public, and also during hospital visits, with medical personnel attending to the hunger strikers.
At a broader level, she feels the hunger strike has foregrounded a crucial dimension of the movement – but one that sometimes gets lost in the heat of the action and the whirlwind of rebellious energy: that is XR’s emphasis on connection, on looking out for each other, and on gratitude.
The hunger strikes are now winding down: in the UK, hunger strikers ended their strike on Friday 13th and joined in a celebratory communal meal on Saturday 14th, four weeks after the launch of the Global Strike.
In Australia, though increasingly weak, Dave bravely intends to continue refusing food until he has heard from 12 members of the State Parliament or until Christmas day. Until that time, if you are in Melbourne, do drop by; alternatively, should you wish, you can send Dave messages of support by clicking here.
Brave like Lions
29th NOV | Lyon, France
This horrifying video shows French police brutalising Lyon rebels at a November 29 action to protest at Amazon’s new distribution hub east of the city of Lyon. The giant new warehouse will be 359 metres long and have the area of 22 football pitches.
XR Lyon said: “The disproportionate violence to remove our protesters was the unfortunate proof that we had chosen the right target. Upset the current economic system, which kills us little by little, and the State will make you pay dearly, asphyxiating you, dragging you through the mud, beating you.
But they should know, they should listen: we will not give up. We are as determined as ever.”
‘If I can’t dance, it’s not my revolution.’
Last spring, rebels from down under brought us the grooviest way to be rebellious. Their funky tunes and smooth moves are now catching on across the world. As rebels in 23 cities, including in Bali, Paris, Amsterdam, Sydney and New York put their dancing shoes on and turn normal city roads into our dancefloors.
At the COP in Madrid, hundreds blocked off the central shopping street Gran Via, ready for a dance off with world leaders challenging them to take urgent action on the climate and ecological crisis because we all want to be … stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.
Meanwhile, Christmas shoppers in Newcastle were surprised to meet a friendly dancing polar bear and many wigs.
If you need some extra exercise to work off all those festive sprouts, shake your hips and practice your moves here.
Cube of Truth
8th Dec | Athens, Greece
XR Hellas and XR Hellas Youth organised a Cube of Truth, to inform people about the climate crisis and the alternatives we can adopt in our daily lives. They describe a Cube of Truth as “a peaceful street activism action that aims to educate and inform the public about a specific topic through the use of video and dialogue.”
One team “forms the circle, displaying a device that plays graphic and powerful footage of environmental destruction. The activists who make up the circle remain silent, statuesque and blindfolded in a compelling and eye-catching static art piece.”
Meanwhile the outreach team engages with the public by asking interested onlookers questions about the footage they are looking at.”
People before Pipelines
1st DEC | Israel
Members of XR Israel took part in a blockade of the Maccabiah Energy and Business Conference to protest the EastMed gas pipeline, which is intended to be established between Israel, Cyprus, Greece and Italy for gas transmission and export to Europe.
Rebels said: “Building more infrastructure for fossil fuels, which is exacerbating the climate crisis while undermining the marine environment, is a crime against the world (…) While those who are expected to benefit from this are primarily gas companies, those who will suffer from the many damages and ecological dangers are citizens of Israel and our partner countries.
Those in charge must understand that we know what they are planning, and that our lives are worth more than their profits.”
23rd – 24th NOV | Rakwana, Sri Lanka
XR Sri Lanka successfully launched the first phase of its Reforest Rebellion in partnership with the Rainforest Protectors of Sri Lanka. Approximately 300 saplings of pioneer species (native/endemic) were successfully planted.
The site is in Rakwana, in the buffer zone of the Sinharaja Rainforest, where attempted tea planting during the colonial period left the land degraded. 14 volunteers (the youngest being 3 yrs old) braved the torrential rain, the leeches, the sunburn and the inaccessibility to a modern toilet to get the job done. A major part of this project was the involvement of the local estate workers and laborers.
The Rainforest Protectors have been building a relationship with them for the past years, and this is vital to ensuring the plants are kept alive. The locals saw and endured the intense physical strain it took to plant these trees, and they make revenue through this project so as to look after the saplings and prevent forest fires being lit.
Phase 2 of our Reforest Rebellion will take place in December, where they plan to conduct a community awareness programme amongst the villages near the Sinharaja Rainforest Reserve. Resident children will also be invited to participate in reforestation activities.
For more information, please support them on facebook.
As we face an unprecedented planetary crisis, XR Rebels from around the world continue their inspiring actions.
See more beautiful and courageous action from around the world in XR Unchained.
History Corner: How An Environmental Newsletter Toppled a Dictatorship & Unified Europe
The Peaceful Revolution of 1989 | East Germany
This year saw the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. This iconic event is often seen as part of a broader world history – the dissolution of the USSR, the opening up of Eastern Europe, the end of the Cold War.
But today we bring you the incredible and inspiring story of the underground environmental newsletter that became one of the key catalysts of the revolution.
Read in full here
- ‘Stand for the Trees’ – the Christmas advert you didn’t know you wanted, featuring the UK’s battle against HS2
- Read an interview with rebel Zion Lights on What Makes a Successful Protest. Published in Raconteur.
- Celebrate the success of XR’s very own newspaper: The Hourglass – publishing its 4th issue in January
- XRTV is here and it is beautiful.
- Indigenous Bolivia Ready to go to War Against Fascism
- Dahr Jamail’s retrospective on 2019 and thoughts on dealing with ‘climate PTSD’
- Greta Thunberg’s speech to COP25 in Madrid
- Global Warning – A new podcast examines how Extinction Rebellion has spread across the world.
Humans of XR
Claire, at the COP in Madrid
‘I lived in Myanmar for four years and I saw a lot of devastating impacts with regards to climate change over there, especially drought and increased incidences of floods and cyclones.
I came back to Tasmania and was really adamant that I wanted to do activism because I thought that it’s my responsibility as a citizen. I saw that extinction rebellion was tweeted by George Monbiot and I’ve always really admired his writing and thought that if he likes it, then it’s going to be a cool activist group.
In Tasmania, the increased ocean temperatures mean that we are losing a lot of our shellfish and fishing industries. Also, invasive species are taking over, so something like twenty million sea urchins have creeped in to the coasts and are wiping out local marine species.
There are now also increased incidents of bushfires. There are really bad ones in the Gondwanan world heritage rainforest: Eucalyptus burns and regenerates, but this Gondwanan vegetation is ancient. When it burns it never returns.
I just want people to think about other countries and other people living in those countries as humans just like their family members.
Same with the species: we are all connected and all rely on one another so just have some empathy and think of them when making decisions and using industries that may make decisions that are not sustainable for our future.’
The newsletter is recruiting!
As XR grows, so too does the number of actions and incredible acts of bravery that need reporting from across the world. Frequently under-reported in mainstream media, these stories are carefully collected and written up by a team of volunteers and reach 250 thousand rebels worldwide.
If you have enjoyed reading the XR newsletters, ever felt inspired by them, and wanted to contribute to telling the story of the Rebellion, now is your chance: the newsletter is recruiting!
We are looking for volunteers in a variety of roles. Not all roles involve writing or editing – just as important are admin and more technical roles; networking, newswatching and much more! All roles can be done remotely.
Find out more about the roles here and get in touch by emailing us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for reading. With one week before Christmas, we at the newsletter couldn’t resist the opportunity to sign off with a little festive cheer. Merry Christmas all, and happy new paradigm!
If you have any questions or queries, please get in touch at email@example.com.
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