UK Newsletter #9: More courage. More collaboration. More love. - Extinction Rebellion UK

UK Newsletter #9: More courage. More collaboration. More love.

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Dear rebels,

With two storms in two weeks causing widespread disruption and flooding, 2020 didn’t take long to bring the climate crisis to our doorstep.

But our rebels are hot on the case, taking to the streets with ever more innovative and theatrical actions.

In London, some rebels brightened up Fashion Week with colourful plumes and an alternative fashion show, while others poked fun at our politicians who just won’t stop digging for coal.

A BP-sponsored exhibition on Troy encountered its very own Trojan horse in the form of a creative, 51-hour, Emergency-themed takeover, and young Cambridge rebels caused quite the stir in a controversial action in their week-long Rebellion: ‘Lawngate‘.

Read on to find out about our first big win in 2020: plans to expand Bristol airport were rejected following a stellar campaign of direct action. An amazing result for a group of incredible, hardworking rebels! You did it!

Join us this Saturday in London as we march together in solidarity with all earth protectors and say ‘Enough is enough’ to harming our planet. Meet at 1pm in Russell Square. Together, we will bring more courage, more collaboration, more love.  

On 26-28 Feb, we will bring the action to Durham to oppose the expansion of an open-cast mine. Read more about this exciting action and sign up here!

Mobilising and training as many people as possible for our next phase of Rebellion (from 23 May) is a huge task, and we need your help. The UK-wide Actions team is looking for committed volunteers to help build our people power. To find out which roles urgently need filling, check out this doc or sign up here.

In the last week we have seen two exciting film documentaries discussing XR and its effect on the climate conversation. Check out ‘The Art of Extinction’ by Vice and ‘The Inside Story’ from Channel 5.

This month, we lost a brilliant rebel, scientist and conservationist, James ‘Iggy’ Fox. We dedicate this issue and this Humans of XR to him and his reasons for rebelling. May he continue to inspire us all.

“When the forest is ablaze in a valley, sometimes all it takes is a few extra Snowflakes on the mountainside to trigger an avalanche that will put the fire out. Will you be one of them?” – Iggy Fox

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. If you can’t give time, please consider giving money.


Action Highlights Back to top

When You’re in a Hole, Stop Digging

14 Feb | Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, London

Photo: Alannah Travers

Rebels arrived at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government housed in the Home Office building. They brought shovels and coal and mimicked politicians as they started mining for coal under the pristine lawn.

The rebels’ offer to clear up the lawn was rejected.

The aim is to stop the expansion of the Banks Mining Pont Valley open-cast coal site in Bradley, County Durham. Coal is by far the most damaging fossil fuel in terms of CO2 and air quality and can’t be part of our future.

The message was for the Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick, telling him: “If you’re in a hole, stop digging!”

Jenrick holds the power to revoke planning permission for the expansion of the site. In 2018, Sajid Javid, then Secretary of State, rejected similar plans for a mine in Druridge Bay, saying it would have a “substantial” impact on climate change.

Photo: Tomm Morton / Lightscaper

Coal is our past, not our future.

Next week, we are bringing the action right to Durham, help us end coal now. Find out more here and below.

Disturbing Lawn and Order

16 Feb – NOW | Cambridge

Cambridge rebels have received national-level attention with their Rebel for Justice campaign. So far, 7 rebels have been arrested. On Monday, they hit headlines when they took spades to the front lawn of Trinity College, one of the richests institutions in the UK, and the third biggest landowner.

Rebels were protesting the college’s £9.1million investments in oil & gas companies – they demanded that the University cease all ties with the destruction of the natural world and suggested that perhaps it was time to plant some flowers instead of ‘diversity-dead-zone’ lawns.

The action has inspired massive debate both within the movement and among the wider public. Regardless of popularity, the Cambridge group have certainly helped ring the alarm bells. And it is important to remember that no property was permanently damaged and it will be nothing compared to the the effects of the climate crisis – which will see much of Cambridge underwater by 2050.

Rebels also blocked the entrance to Schlumberger institute on Tuesday, because of its close links to the oil and drilling industry. This accompanies a week-long roadblock in the centre of town.

Ultimately, Cambidge rebels are striving immensely hard to help bring justice to an unjust world, where lawns are treated with more value than the lives of countless people and animals who will perish in forthcoming disasters.

A new outfit for London Fashion Week?

15 Feb | The Strand, London

Photo: Crispin Hughes

XR Fashion Action have stepped out once again to put pressure on the Fashion Industry.  

This time though, notes the leading fashion magazine Vogue, the XR action was a ‘more colourful affair’, as neon flags and coloured plumes of smoke brightened up the dull grey morning in Central London.

Together with allied movements such as XR Youth, Animal Rebellion, XR Internationalist Solidarity Network, rebels swarmed roads around LFW’s official address at the Strand. To the sound of Samba drums and a choir, rebels staged their own fashion show of ‘locked-on’ rebels dressed in barbed wire and chains, held a block-printing workshop, and a series of inspirational talks.

Photo: Talia Woodin

The point: to demand the cancellation of the September 2020 LFW, which, through the promotion of ‘trends’ and ‘seasons’, normalises throw-away culture.  

XR further calls on the fashion industry, one of the most exploitative and polluting industries, to rethink its methods of production and ‘immediately start work on an emergency action plan’; and appeals to the publicly funded British Fashion Council to use its considerable influence to back XR’s three demands.

Is XR’s appearance in Vogue an indication that the Industry is starting to take note? We certainly hope so. Until we know so, however, XR Fashion Action will continue to step up the pressure, season after season — bolder, braver, just as creative.

VICTORY: Bristol Airport Expansion Blocked!

8 Feb | Weston-super-Mare, Somerset

Photo: Simon Holliday

West Country rebels are celebrating a landmark victory, following the rejection by North Somerset Council of plans to expand Bristol Airport. This historic decision followed a three day ‘festival of protest’ in nearby Weston-super-Mare, organised by XR groups from across the region and Bristol Airport Action Network (BAAN).

A huge sculpture of an ostrich burying its head in the sand was installed on the beach next to the Grand Pier. This ostrich was joined by more than 100 rebels who also buried their heads in the sand to show their objection to the airport expansion plans.

The festival of protest also included some ‘disco-bedience’, the unveiling of a future-memorial statue celebrating the councillors voting against expansion, and a march through the town.

Photo: Simon Holliday

Council Leader Don Davies said the committee had considered that “the detrimental effect of the expansion of the airport on this area and the wider impact on the environment outweighs the narrower benefits to airport expansion”.

It’s encouraging to see that some politicians aren’t just sticking their heads in the sand and are willing to act now!

The Siege of Troy

7-9 Feb | British Museum, London

Photo: The Lightscaper

Organised by ‘BP or not BP?’, this 51-hour occupation of the BP sponsored Troy: Myth and Reality exhibition resulted in some sensational action at the British Museum.

On Friday, a 4-meter high Trojan Horse was wheeled into the museum grounds where it stayed until Saturday evening. The Trojan horse is the perfect metaphor for BP sponsorship. On its surface it looks like a generous gift, but inside lurks death and destruction.

In the Great Court a new artwork was added ‘Monument’ where body casts were laid across the museum floor.

Photo: Ron Fassbender

The next day 1500 people flooded the building in a mass protest against the British Museum’s legitimising of BP’s greenwashing via arts sponsorship, along with its continued colonial practices and exploitation of indigenous populations.

The British Museum must follow in the footsteps of the Tate, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre and National Galleries Scotland and cut ties to oil sponsors.

James Brown swaps BA plane for HS2 digger

18 Feb | Colne Valley, Bucks

Rebels have set up camp on the roof of a drilling rig about to start work on a 100 foot hole for HS2 foundations. The rig will drill holes above a chalk aquifer that supplies water to 3.2 million Londoners (20% of the population).

The aquifer acts as a natural filtration system and the drilling will potentially allow toxic waste into the water supply, polluting London’s water. An environmental catastrophe waiting to happen.

You may remember Paralympian James from the October rebellion when he famously sat on the roof of a British Airways jet at City Airport.

There is an urgent need for support in numbers to stop the destruction, more details here.

Upcoming Back to top

Together We March

22 Feb | 1pm | Russell Square, London

This is about the right to peaceful protest, and saying enough to harm.

Enough of police clamping down on peaceful protesters. Enough of being labelled extremists for standing up for each other. Enough of fires decimating wildlife and homes from the UK to the US, Australia to Amazon & Africa. Enough racism. Enough separation. Enough of the media controlling our story. Enough government failure.

More courage. More collaboration. More love.

XR is one element of a much greater movement and we must recognise our strength in unity. Bring your organisation/movement/group’s own banners, placards, voices and love.

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. Join us here.

Extinction Underground – VAULT Festival

22 Feb | From 10.30pm | 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. Book here.

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

26-28 Feb | Durham

Photo: Tom Martin

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’.

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!

Join us and prove that change is possible. Join the Telegram chat and attend an online briefing call on either Thursday 20 Feb at 7pm or Sunday 23 Feb at 12pm.

Decolonise! Decarbonise!

A series of talks, panels and readings of new short plays on the climate and ecological emergency with a focus on decolonisation and climate justice. To change everything we need everyone.

We know that we haven’t got everyone on side at the moment and we want to change that. Let’s talk.

Every Sunday until 22 March, full programme here.

Announcements Back to top

XR UK’s 2020 Strategy

Last week we published our strategy for this crucial year. In 2019, we sounded the alarm loud and clear and demanded change. This year, we won’t sit back and wait for change to happen – we will be that change and begin building the alternative.

For 2020, we are setting ourselves clear goals in 4 areas: People Power, Vision, Movements of Movements, and Inner Strength. More on these will follow.

Read the full strategy here, with loads more on actions planned for the year and what it might mean for your local group.

Following the Strategy work over the last month, the Operations team met for a day on Tuesday to create an implementation plan. This included:

  1. A budget council to look at cutting major teams budgets and readjusting funds to core needs such as Finance, Fundraising and Tech.
  2. A mandated group to create a full operational plan for 2020 including the Emergency demand and plans on COP.
  3. The creation of a Story circle with a range of Working Groups to support our public communications and storytelling.

Full information on decisions can be found in the summary document here.

People Power 2020

We are hosting a gathering for local outreach, actions and mobilisation rebels. We’re going to make our 2020 Rebellion the biggest and best yet! So, book your place for Birmingham, Saturday 7th March, 10.00-17.00

Not only will we celebrate our mass outreach successes, we’ll pool our knowledge, resources and brain-power to plan for maximizing the impact of our May Rebellion.

We will be launching our Rebellion Pledge with a great array of speakers from across the movement.

Sign up to get involved here

Help Mobilise our next Rebellion! We need you!

The UK-wide Actions team is looking for committed volunteers who can help mobilise people across the UK to get involved in local actions and get ready for our next movement-wide actions from the 23rd of May.

Have you taken part in or helped organise actions? Do you want to bring people together from across the UK and inspire them to take action? Are you motivated to work with new people, get stuck in with local XR groups and help them grow for the mass action in May? Then, we need you!

To find out more about roles please read this. If these sound like exciting opportunities, please fill in this form by the 26th February.

Nominate our Rebel Spokespeople!

We are seeking nominations for media spokespeople!

If you know anyone who you think would be an amazing representative for our movement, or you think you could do a great job yourself, please fill in this form. We need to include and be shaped by people from all backgrounds and all walks of life. We want to get to a position where everyone can see themselves reflected in one of our spokespeople.

We will review nominations and draw a range of inspiring spokespeople from across the movement as we build our team for the next stages of the rebellion.

Online Facilitation Training

We are lucky to have so many rebels with different views, skills and experiences. Good facilitation is key to make the most of that and to make sure everyone can fully contribute, but it can be tricky at times with online calls. For any experienced or trained facilitators, we are running several two hour workshops with tips and tools for virtual facilitation, find out more and sign up here.

Printing funds available!

The ‘All for Climate’ collective has raised £30k to cover printing expenses for groups fighting for climate justice in the UK. Find out more here, along with instructions on how to use the funds.

News and Content Back to top

Humans of XR Back to top

James ‘Iggy’ Fox, 25

James ‘Iggy’ Fox died on 6 February. He was 25, had given up a career in science to join XR and fought hard for the cause, especially for Indigenous rights. Iggy was a burning bright soul and he will be deeply missed. May his reasons for rebelling inspire us all.

“Science alone is silence. For people to act on science’s warnings and apply its solutions, its message needs shouting from the rooftops. Scientists are getting on the streets, refusing to be scribes of the apocalypse.

After seven years studying, researching and protecting nature as a wildlife conservationist, I stopped fieldwork and deferred an MSc in order to rebel full-time.

Because no matter how many surveys I ran, how many turtle nests I protected, or how many young people I educated about ‘sustainability’, the seas kept rising, forests kept burning, plastic kept clogging the beaches, and our data kept showing that wildlife was being decimated.

After joining the #XRSnowflakes affinity group, I realized that as an activist my voice could be far more influential than it had been as a scientist.

On August 13th, six of us were arrested at London’s Brazilian Embassy for taking non-violent direct action to highlight an ecological and human rights emergency. We did it as two thousand Indigenous women marched on Brasilia to defend their lives and lands, and three days after the Dias do Fogo, when thousands of fires were lit to clear deforested land in the Amazon.

I don’t want to go to prison, but I’ll face whatever I need to. My actions aren’t about sacrifice, or arrest for the sake of it. Knowing the science, I have no choice but to tell the truth, and stick to my morals in the face of that truth. I won’t stand by and watch the world burn.”

Read the full article here.

We are receiving amazing human stories and we want to know yours. To read more – or to write your own – join our Facebook group.

Thank you!

Thank you for reading.

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.

Photo: XR Families

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