UK Newsletter #10 - I Know Why the Caged Canary Sings - Extinction Rebellion UK

UK Newsletter #10 – I Know Why the Caged Canary Sings

Dear rebels,

As spring begins, and we start preparing for our third wave of change-making, we’re delighted to bring you a stirring and inspiring History of XR (video). In a movement so based on compassion, and faced with such painful times, it can be easy to forget how far we’ve come. Whether or not we succeed, we know we’re doing all we can, together. Let’s celebrate that

Ready for more? You’ve come to the right place. Today we bring you plans for the UK’s Rolling Rebellion from 23rd May onwards – see below for more. In the meantime, we’ve got a bumper crop of announcements and upcoming actions: whether it’s supporting XR Universities, greeting the ‘XR Budget’, or getting trained in Citizens’ Assemblies or organising systems (see below), there’s something for everyone.

Poster: Bruce Mahalski

Read on for the story of the rebels who joined forces with Durham County residents to blockade a coal mine for three days with a series of creative and colourful actions. Also today, we take another look at the scrapping of Heathrow’s third runway. This is a huge step forward and a massive win for environmental groups everywhere.

We show some love to the Northampton rebels who have been busy giving Barclays a taste of their own poison. And in Westminster, XR Faith Groups have begun their 40 days of Lent – non-stop multifaith prayer and meditation vigil on Parliament Square.

Finally, we remember the positive buzz of our ‘Enough is Enough’ march in London last month, the first of many ‘movement of movements’ actions.

There’s a lot to do. But, as the Heathrow ruling powerfully showed, together, we can make a difference.

Photo: Helena Smith

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.


  • Action Highlights
  • Upcoming 
  • Announcements
  • XR Content
  • Humans of XR

Action Highlights

Dead Canaries Rise Again!

26-28 FEB | Bradley Coal Mine, County Durham

Photos: Simone J. Rudolphi

Rebels joined in coalition with local residents, the Coal Action Network, and the Campaign to Protect Pont Valley in blockading the expansion of the Bradley open-cast mine. The group braved security and guard dogs to shut down the site for 3 days.

Banks Group, who owns the mine, claims the UK will have to import coal if the expansion doesn’t go ahead and even suggested that UK coal is a better alternative. But the UK Government has committed to closing all coal fired power stations by 2025, and current stockpiles are already double what is needed to meet the turn off date.

Rebels and residents have come together to remind the powers that be that coal is our heritage, not our future. 

Pont Valley residents have fought hard over many decades to stop the mine opening. When the Council repeatedly rejected planning permission for the site, the UK Government overruled them. A legal challenge led the government to admit its decision-making was “flawed”, yet nothing was done to change it.

Banks Group opened the mine in the summer of 2018. Since then, local residents have complained of thick dust permeating the air and constant noise from mining machinery. 

Durham County Council will vote on the expansion application later this month. As both Durham County Council and the British Parliament have declared a Climate and Ecological Emergency, rebels and residents are now calling on those in power to act on those words and make coal history

For more on the 3 days of action, watch these highlights, read this personal testimony of a rebel in action from a family of coal miners, and see the media reaction.

Let’s show XR NE we’re with them – click here to support the rebels on the ground.

A reverend administers an Ash Wednesday service to members of the blockade

GROUNDED! Court Rules Heathrow 3rd Runway Unlawful

27 FEB | London

A legal battle brought by a coalition of earth protectors led to a historic victory in the battle for climate justice. The Court of Appeal ruled that the government’s decision to allow a third runway at Heathrow was unlawful.

The court heard legal challenges from several parties, including climate charity Plan B and Friends of the Earth. The Heathrow development can’t go ahead as it conflicts with UK commitments under the Paris Agreement to stop the climate crisis and limit global warming to 1.5˚C.

“The claimants have won a once-in-a-species opportunity for the law to support our only chance for international cooperation, the Paris Agreement,” said Clare Farrell from Extinction Rebellion. 

The government seems to accept their loss and said it won’t appeal the ruling, but Heathrow’s chief executive intends to take it to the Supreme Court. 

This is a game changer, as the decision holds that those in power must take climate change commitments from the Paris Agreement into account in their decisions. This same principle could now apply across the world to all other governments that have signed the Paris Agreement and every carbon intensive project

We are hoping to see new legal challenges popping up in courts across the world to hold governments to account to their commitments to tackle the climate crisis. Challenges are already being launched against the UK government’s decision on HS2 and there are no doubt more to come.

This is not the first time we’ve seen legal backing for the planet: whether it’s in London, Cambridgeshire, or even the US. With every such ruling, it gets clearer that the conversation’s changing. This is a massive victory for all earth protectors and an exciting step towards ecocide as law.

Anoint with Oil

26 FEB | Barclaycard HQ, Northampton

Photo: Vladimir Morozov

Seven brave XR Northampton rebels sprayed the Barclays HQ sign with nontoxic, biodegradable ‘crude oil’. 

Two banners read ‘FOSSIL FUELS = DEATH’ and ‘$85 BILLION INTO FOSSIL FUEL’, referring to the amount Barclays has invested in the fossil fuel industry since the 2015 Paris Agreement, according to this study from Rainforest Action Network and Banktrack.

While waiting for police, the rebels delivered an evidence pack to Barclays, containing information and news articles about the company’s involvement in the fossil fuel industry. 

Barclays is Europe’s largest investor in fossil fuels and the sixth largest in the world.

5 rebels were arrested and their homes raided by police during the night. 

From Out Of The Ashes

26 FEB |  Westminster, London

Foreheads were marked with ‘oil’ crosses outside Westminster Abbey

XR Faith Groups launched 40 Days of Action for Lent on Ash Wednesday, an action open to all people, regardless of their religious affiliation.

Christian Climate Action sprayed ‘oil’ onto the Big Ben restoration facade, demanding the UK government cancel investments in and subsidies for fossil fuels. Banners read ‘FOSSIL FUELS = DEATH’ and ‘TIME IS RUNNING OUT.’ 

Services were held outside both Westminster Cathedral and Westminster Abbey at the beginning of a non-stop 40-day multifaith prayer and meditation vigil on Parliament Square.

The vigil calls all religious institutions to fully divest from fossil fuels by the end of Lent. Prayers will be said for leaders and representatives to find in themselves the courage to take urgent action. 

Passing through London this month? Drop in and show your support!.


22 FEB | Central London

Photo: Tomm Morton

Enough floods! Enough wildfires! Enough ecocide! Enough greenwashing! Enough land theft! Enough profit! Enough lies!

Thousands of rebels from around the country marched with love and rage and danced to the joyful sound of two samba bands from Russell Square to Parliament Square to say ‘Enough is Enough’ to inaction on the climate and ecological emergency.

The march was held in collaboration with allied groups, including Parents 4 Future. It was the first of many protests in which we aim to come together with a wider ‘movement of movements’ for change. Because this emergency isn’t just about Extinction Rebellion. It’s about all of us and we will need everyone.

The march also served to launch our UK 2020 strategy. Through People Power, we seek to bring one million people in the UK into active support and ensure that 50% of the nation sees the Climate and Ecological Emergency as their top priority.  

Discobedience in Parliament Square. Photo: Tomm Morton


Rolling Rebellion

23 MAY – 05 JUN | Rolling across the UK

Plans for the Rolling Rebellion in May are beginning to take shape. Momentum is building, with 60 new local groups popping up in the last two months. 

As we write this, the new ‘Rebellion Weavers’ project team is hard at work, listening to input from working groups, considering proposals and consulting with regions about six weeks’ ‘waves’ of rebellion. You can pledge to join the rebellion here.

A contingency plan is also coming together in the face of coronavirus. As the situation develops, public health is our number one priority and above all – our movement is about protecting life.

More information is coming soon – for real-time essential updates, join our Broadcast Group. For now, click ‘going’ and invite friends to the Rolling Rebellion, start planning in your local group and get ready for action!

People Power 2020

7 MAR | 10am-5pm | The Priory Rooms, Bull St, Birmingham

Looking to mobilise? Come to Birmingham! A gathering for all local outreach, actions and mobilisation rebels.

Not only will we celebrate our successes, we will come together to pool our knowledge, resources and creativity to build the May Rebellion, making it our biggest and best Rebellion! Find out more here. 

XR Educators Visioning Day

7 MAR| 10am – 5pm | Sidworth Street, London

Across the nation brave teachers, organisations and schools are starting to teach the truth about the climate and ecological emergency, but we are still facing barriers.

This Saturday we are coming together to create our vision to work towards a new education system at scale that supports and prepares young people for their future.

Further information here. More events across the UK to come, contact to find out more or to set up your own local event.

International Women’s Day. All Genders / For Women

8 MAR | 2pm | Cavendish Sq, London

Join the Women’s Strike Assembly this International Women’s Day for a creative takeover and mass clothes swap to highlight the role of women in producing and consuming fashion. 

This is an act of defiance against the confines of womanhood in a society which forces us into low-paid, undervalued work, and reduces us into trend-hopping consumers despite the ongoing climate & ecological crisis

Women will not prop up an exploitative global system any longer. We demand a  movement that transforms the lives of everyone – and an end to the cycle of production and consumption that is destroying our planet. 

Meet at: Cavendish Sq, 2pm on 8th March – More info here. Or get in touch: @Women_Strike,

XR Universities. Decarbonise, Decolonise, Democratise

9-14 MAR  | Glasgow, London, Liverpool 

The education system in the global north is part of the long history of colonialism and indoctrination of generation after generation into a system which is driving us towards climate and ecological breakdown.

From 9th March rebels and other activists will come together from across the UK to Imperial College London, Liverpool University, and Glasgow University, as part of an international action, to demand that universities #Decarbonise, #Decolonise, and #Democratise.

We will rally together and engage in subversive actions, occupying our spaces, and providing alternative education to counteract our failing universities. 

More info here or get in touch with for more – we need your help!

Budget Day Protest – Bring Your Own Budget (BYOB)

11 MAR | 10am-4pm | Houses of Parliament, London

With Budget Day fast approaching, join us for a special protest on Wednesday 11 March.

Dress code: disconnected Parliamentarian. Thick black suits, top hats, tails and bring along your own red briefcase with an alternative emergency budget!

Spread the word, bring props and placards. Meet at the Millicent Fawcett Statue at 10:45 am, if you miss the time just head for Westminster!


Skill up: our 3rd Demand – A Citizens’ Assembly 

16 MAR | 06:30pm | Online

Let’s take a moment, this moment, to think of all the amazing things that XR has done. 

From bringing people together, to protesting mines, clearing polluted roads and disrupting air travel. All that excitement is what encourages people to join XR but it’s friendship and connection that makes people stay. We need to organise ourselves in a way that is fun, regenerative and empowering for everyone!

That’s where the Self-Organising System comes in. Effective organising and preventing conflict is essential for friendship and social bonds to flourish. We are continuously learning from local groups, other organisations, coaching, training and updating the XR constitution.

We are looking for people to join our SOS team. Do you have 4 hours a week (or more) which you could spend developing XR’s Self-Organising System? Get in touch:

Let’s get this rebellion self-organised – together!

Songs of Blaze

Calling all rebel musicians, choirs and samba bands.

Sixth Mass Extinction Recordings is a record label for climate protest songs. Artists donate tracks and DJs and fans pay as little as £3/month to subscribe.

All funds are split between XR and The label is global and open to ideas.

XR Content

Humans of XR 

Mark, 64, a retired academic and a coordinator for XR, was swarming in the City on the last day of the April Rebellion. He was arrested sitting in the road outside the Bank of England. He pleaded guilty at City of London Magistrates’ Court on November 8th, and read out this statement to the Judge.

“I am pleading guilty because the law dictates that I am guilty and as a member of Extinction Rebellion I stand by my actions. But I do not feel guilty. I feel empowered. Empowered because I am part of a movement that has supported me and given me the strength to stand up for what I believe in.

A year ago I would never have expected to find myself here, in this place, today. This is a court of law – a place where judgement is passed – but only the future can properly judge the present. All of us here in this court today will be judged on our actions by our children and our children’s children. They will write the history books of our time.

And when they sit down to write those books, our children will ask of us, ‘Faced with the moral and political choices they had to make, what did they do? Did they have the courage to act for the greater good of humanity, or did they baulk at that responsibility?’ 

We are facing THE existential crisis of humanity. We must all look honestly into the future and meet its questioning gaze. Regardless of the judgements that are passed today, I appeal to everyone in this room to search their consciences and do everything in their power to ensure we bequeath our children a habitable planet.”

Read Mark’s full statement here

Contributed by Helena Smith

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. 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. 

This comic first appeared in The Hourglass – Interested comic creators should send their work to:

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