UK Newsletter #8: Unexpected Elephants and Supermarket Crime Scenes - Extinction Rebellion UK

UK Newsletter #8: Unexpected Elephants and Supermarket Crime Scenes

Dear Rebels,

It’s only February but already things are hotting up. Our next UK-wide mobilisation is now set to begin on May the 23rd (book time off work!), and the strategy for 2020 is due to be released in the next few days.

As we build momentum for another round of conscientious protection, there’s no shortage of opportunities for warming up this February: whether it’s fighting HS2 this weekend, marching in London on the 22nd, blockading a coalmine in county Durham on the 26th, or disrupting Cambridge City centre from the 16th onwards.

And however you contribute to the coming weeks, you will not be alone. This week, as ever, we’re celebrating just some of the many brave, creative and intelligent actions happening all across the country. 

Caitlin demands Cambridge clean up their act!

We have news from Leeds where rebels protested a new airport with some wonderful lock-on action. And a creative crime scene in Cornwall, where rebels targeted JBS – the largest meat producer in the world. Also, hot off the press, Cambridge rebels have been blocking the entrance to the BP Institute with a beautiful bathtub and some well-smeared treacle.

In London, rebels attended the launch of COP26 to decry the utter lack of progress so far. Elsewhere in London, rebels appeared outside McKinsey offices with an impressive paper elephant demanding Deeds Not Words!

Read on below for full accounts of all these stories, and more!

And in recognition that this movement is so much more than just our actions, this week we’re introducing Unsung Heroes, a new series exploring and celebrating the rebels behind the scenes who make all the magic happen – this week featuring rebels from arrestee support

Last but not least, check out ‘Guardians of Life’ – a moving 3-minute film with an all-star cast led by Joaquin Phoenix, produced in partnership with XR and Amazon Watch.

If you’d like to help, please check out our guide and learn more about XR.

To connect to rebels in your local area, get in touch with your nearest XR group. If there’s no active group near you, you can start your own

If you’d like to see previous newsletter issues, you can find them here.

This Rebellion needs your support. Anything you can give is appreciated.


  • Stories of the week
  • Upcoming
  • Announcements
  • News
  • Unsung Heroes

Stories of the week

Crime Scene at Sainsbury’s

25 Jan | Penryn, Cornwall

20 rebels from XR Falmouth and Penryn, dressed in forensic investigation suits and masks, cordoned off the supermarket tinned meat aisles, declaring them ‘crime scenes’ of an investigation into the destruction of the Amazon rainforests. 

Relentless over-production of livestock is the main cause of rainforest destruction. JBS, the Brazilian based company is the largest meat producer in the world – they slaughter a staggering 13 million animals every day

The company has been prosecuted for high-level corruption, animal welfare violations, price fixing, the sourcing of meat from illegally destroyed rainforest, major hygiene breaches, and modern-day slavery. 

Photo: Ella Clark

Sainsbury’s, Lidl, Asda and Morrisons all continue to stock JBS corned beef products, fuelling environmental and human rights abuses. 

Shoppers responded positively to the rebels, who handed out leaflets while explaining their reasons for taking action.

One rebel said, ‘Many of the people I spoke with were horrified to hear that the supermarkets are stocking products that directly contribute to the deforestation of the Amazon

Many expressed a wish for supermarkets to act responsibly and boycott those brands or for government legislation to prevent those brands being sold.’ 

⏰ 2050 Is Too Late! ⏰

04 Feb | Science Museum, London

On Tuesday morning, rebels welcomed Boris and his team at the Science Museum as they arrived for the COP26 launch event. They were there to remind politicians that 2050 is too late and that we have already wasted 26 years on climate talk without any real action.

Net zero by 2050 puts human civilisation at great risk. It gives us just a 50/50 chance of limiting warming to 1.5C, according to the UN. 

One rebel at the action said, “We are here to tell politicians that 2050 is too late, that COP26 has been set up to fail, as have all previous COPs. Listen to the science, we are currently heading for a 4 degree C plus world, which is rapidly showing that it will be hostile to humanity”.

The launch comes just days after Claire O’Neill was sacked from her role as COP President last Friday by Dominic Cummings, reportedly for criticising the Government’s failing to act on the climate crisis. 

In her words, following the move, O’Neill has said that Boris “doesn’t really get” the emergency and in her departing letter she highlights how the UK is miles off track to make any progress and the massive barriers in place to get anything done. 

A stark reminder for us all of the pressure we will need to build this year on the Government to take serious action.

Lock-ons in Leeds

31 Jan | Leeds

Four young rebels locked on outside Leeds Civic Hall in protest. (Photo: Eddie Bovill, XR Leeds)

XR Leeds took to the streets outside Leeds Civic Hall where the council’s planning committee was discussing the expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport. Proposals include building a new terminal and extending nighttime flying hours. 

The proposed increase in flights would exceed the entire carbon budget of the Leeds metropolitan area by 2035… even if all other sources of carbon emissions were shut down today!

Rebels enter the Civic Hall to protest under the watchful gaze of the Owls (Photo: Nick Hodgkinson, XR Leeds) 

Leeds city council declared a climate emergency in March 2019. Making plans to bring more flights to Leeds is a clear failure to act on that emergency.

One young rebel said: “Our futures are in the hands of the councillors sat at the table. To reflect this, we gave the councillors the keys to release the locked on rebels.

Leeds councillors refused the opportunity to come out of their chambers to release the rebels from their locks. Rebels responded by disrupting the planning meeting inside the Civic Hall, calling on the council to act on the climate emergency and reject the planned expansion. 

‘McKinsey, use your influence for good!’ 

31 Jan | London, England

Rebels from XR Hammersmith and Fulham have been protesting outside McKinsey’s London office every fortnight since November. Last Friday, they made their action bigger and bolder.

Rebels wheeled the elephant in the room to McKinsey’s offices, for once visible for everyone to see. They also wore masks of McKinsey’s Global Managing Partner Kevin Sneader, handed out leaflets, and displayed banners saying Business As Usual = DeathandNo More Green Wash, Act Now’.

Rebels are calling on McKinsey to declare a climate and ecological emergency, and use its enormous influence over governments and business to support drastic reduction of global carbon emissions and prevent the worst effects of climate breakdown.

Other demands are that McKinsey publishes a science-based target for reducing its greenhouse gas emissions and disclose what percentage of its clients, by sector, is on track for reducing their emissions in line with global temperature goals. 

One rebel said, “The action started in November… McKinsey’s security called the police and confiscated leaflets. We returned with more people and McKinsey brought out coffee and tea. This last action, our fifth, was very noisy and we introduced the ‘Deeds Not Words’ elephant in the room.”

BP Institute, Take a Bath!

7 Feb | BP Institute, Cambridge

Treacle on the sign. It’s a dirty business.

Rebels from XR Cambridge rose early this morning to block the BP Institute, an interdisciplinary institute in the University of Cambridge which focuses on fluid mechanics and surface science. 

Approximately 20 rebels were involved in the action, with 5 bravely locked on. Others were busy showing support and decorating the building exterior. Police were present but no arrests were made. Today’s antics were part of a series of actions in the Rebel for Justice campaign leading up to the week-long roadblock 16th-23rd February.

A rebel said: ‘the University cannot claim to be acting responsibly when they continue to be associated with the fossil fuel industry in so many different ways. If they truly understood how disgusting BP’s exploitation of human and natural resources is, they would refuse to be associated with the name. We are showing that this connection has consequences.’

HS2: the Fight Goes On

27 Jan | Welch Road, Cubbington

Early on Monday morning, rebels stopped HS2 workers out to destroy hedgerows and woodlands. Welch Road was set to be closed to start tree-felling when rebels blocked contractors.

Three arrests were made, including one for having her foot on some fencing. The destruction is heart-breaking, with contractors clearing areas quickly in case the project would be called off, given its controversy, being far over budget and threatening 108 ancient woodlands.

There are now established protest camps at Harvil Road, Great Missenden, Wendover, Steeple Claydon and Crackley Woods. All are attempting to prevent an ecological catastrophe.

StopHS2 and XR rebels outside the offices of Hillingdon Council. (Photo: Terry Matthews)

On Saturday, over a hundred rebels took to the streets and marched from Harvil Road to the Conservative Party headquarters. The march was led by local residents, rebels from Cubbington and accompanied by rebellious notes from our samba band.

Doughnuts and Hula-Hoop crisps were offered to cheer on the crowd and passers-by.

Heavy tree-felling activity is expected from Saturday 8th February at Denham and we need you to help prevent this environmental crime from taking place and to stop HS2 in its tracks. Join us here.


Together We March – 22nd FEB

22 FEB | 1 pm | London

We are on the threshold of something new. Over the past year the environmental movement has changed the conversation around the climate and ecological emergency. XR is one element of a much greater movement and we must recognise our strength in unity. 

We will march wearing our hearts on our sleeves, because we must continue to come together from a place of fierce love.

Craft for climate. Wear pink and red. Create your own heart and wear it on your sleeve as we march in resistance and solidarity.

Enough is enough. Together we march.

Join us here.

Extinction Underground – VAULT Festival

22 FEB | From 10:30 pm | VAULT Festival, Waterloo, London

Extinction Underground brings us an immersive late night playground under the streets of London. A place for artists, performers and rebels to come together to share in co-creation, artistic expression and connection to both the planet and one another.

Headliners include DJ sets by Edwin Congreave (FOALS) and Fay Milton (SAVAGES), Rob Sheehan and slam-winning spoken word artist Tanaka Fuego.

Bring your friends and your t-shirts for printing. 

Book here.

‘Rebel for Justice’ – Cambridge prepares for week-long Rebellion

Members of XR Cambridge are putting pressure on the University of Cambridge, Cambridge City Council, and Cambridgeshire County Council to meet three demands:

1. The University must cut its ties with the fossil fuel industry.
2. The City Council must hold a Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Justice.
3. The County Council must work with regional authorities to plan a just transition away from a transport system reliant on fossil fuels.

If our demands are not met, we will hold a week-long roadblock disrupting central Cambridge from 16-23 February.

We need EVERYONE to get involved!

Email for more information or read here.

‘We Are the Dead Canaries’ – Opposing Durham’s open-cast mine

26-28 FEB | Durham

As fires scorch the Earth, the UK continues to extract and burn fossil fuels. Durham County Council has declared a Climate Emergency, and yet, in the beginning of March they will vote to approve the expansion of an open-cast mine. 

Known as ‘strip-mining’, this form of extraction is unrivalled in its ecological destruction, and will leave a gaping hole in the green ‘Roof of England’. And all this for coal: by far the most damaging fossil fuel in terms of CO2 and air quality.

People all over the county have joined in opposition to the project, but they’re up against powerful interests. Together, we can stop this madness!

Each Wednesday throughout February, we will carry out a series of pressure building actions, culminating in a mass disruptive action on the 26th-28th Feb.

Rebels from all over the UK are warmly invited to join us and prove that change is possible. Join the Telegram chat.


Affinity Group Support Network (AGSN)

Are you in an Affinity Group? Have you heard from the Affinity Group Support Network (AGSN) yet? If the answers to these questions are YES and then NO, it means that we don’t know about you! Register your Affinity Group here, so we can get in touch.

Affinity Groups (AGs) are the heartbeat of this movement, and have such a huge amount of potential and energy that has not always been supported. We want to work with you all to figure out how we can make sure that at the next Rebellion, you are at the core of what we do.

We look forward to hearing from you soon! Any questions, email  

Police Liaisons Needed

Police liaisons act as a vital communication line between the police and rebels, making actions safer and more accessible.

In continuing efforts to decentralise and expand police liaison roles, we have set up a UK-wide XR police liaison network. This group will share experience and expertise to provide high-quality police liaisons for all XR groups.

To join, contact for training opportunities and more information.


Unsung Heroes of XR 

Keira with the Arrestee Welfare Support team, outside court

In this new feature in the UK newsletter, we are celebrating the countless rebels who have, in one way or another, made a significant contribution to the movement but have not always been recognised for it. Through this feature we wish to express our collective gratitude to these unsung heroes for their time, their caring, their creativity, and their sheer determination.

In today’s Unsung Heroes we celebrate Alice, joint internal coordinator of the Arrest Welfare Team.

An incident at Oxford Circus last April propelled Alice from new XR recruit to one of the principal architects of the Arrest Welfare Support system and a strong advocate for arrestee support.

We hope that Alice’s account of her XR journey will resonate with yours, and that it will bring you inspiration to continue.

Click here to read the full story.

If you know an unsung hero and would like to nominate them for this feature, get in touch with us by emailing

If you’d like to help spotlight unsung heroes in XR, get in touch with Rebel Writers. Anyone from anywhere can join us here, or read our guide for more information. 

Thank you

Thank you for reading. There’s so much exciting stuff going on in the movement 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

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. 


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