UK Newsletter 19: Biodiversity is not 'cute' - Extinction Rebellion UK

UK Newsletter 19: Biodiversity is not ‘cute’

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This week, the UN Secretary General made a moving speech that detailed the hell we’re heading for (transcript; video summary).

Humanity is waging war on nature,’ he said, ‘This is suicidal.

Indeed, with a shiny new contract awarded to drill the world’s largest oasis, ‘global soils’ in serious peril from agricultural harassment, once-in-a-lifetime superfloods becoming a regular thing, and new links between air pollution and Alzheimer’s, things are looking bleak.​ Not to mention multiple governments sidelining our species’ survival as they launch their Covid-19 recovery plans.

Oh, and here in the UK, we can look forward to a ‘major crackdown’ on our protest rights in the new year.

But despite such existential horrors, this team is trying to celebrate the positives: loggers and eco-warriors teamed up to save a rainforest in Canada; ‘rebirding’ is a thing people care about; the climate crisis might not be as divisive as politicians make out; and there’s a new US President waiting in the wings who’s not a climate denier! Can I get a ‘Hoo-ray!‘?

These attractive birds are Dalmatian pelicans and will be reintroduced in East Anglia.

And always a cause for celebration is the courage of rebels who take nonviolent direct action for our planet. Even in the midst of a scary pandemic situation.

We are proud to report on a theatrical action from Ocean Rebellion, a sticker-slapping action to launch Money Rebellion, a denunciation of Shell’s filthy past, and a gigantic letter hung on the Houses of Parliament.

We’ve also got loads of helpful rebel info, like advice on how to organise post-lockdown.

Exemplary COVID-safe protesting from this Birmingham lot.

Want to join the conversation about XR’s future strategy? You can sign up for the next People’s Assembly here (December 14th, 6pm). They’re every 3rd Wednesday of the month.  

‘Biodiversity is not just cute and charismatic wildlife; it is the living, breathing web of life.’

If you’re reading this, the UN chief’s sentiments will likely resonate. The challenge, as ever, is getting everyone else to heed his words.

A Truro rebel fighting the good fight.

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 year’s been tough for us, as it has been for many, many people. If you have money to spare right now, consider supporting us to keep the Rebellion going. Thank you.


Action Highlights Back to top

Pinstriped petrolheads

15-16 NOV | London

Rebels from Ocean Rebellion launched a series of escalating actions to expose a secret deal to sink the Paris Agreement.

The rebels accused the UN’s International Maritime Organisation (IMO) of bowing to pressure from lobbyists to let shipping emissions keep growing for at least another decade – despite the fact that shipping is one of the biggest drivers of climate change.

The protest began outside IMO, while the Marine Environment Protection Committee were meeting inside. Rebels donned pinstriped suits and masks made of washed-up oil containers found on a Cornish beach. They set fire to a Viking longship whose sail bore the words ‘Paris Climate Agreement’.

Later that evening, rebels projected slogans and facts onto the French Embassy in London to illuminate France’s role in the IMO negotiation.

The following day, a trio of the masked, suited characters representing shipping industry executives reappeared outside the International Chamber of Shipping – a co-sponsor of the disastrous new non-regulation.

The suited characters vomited and urinated fake oil onto a sculpture of a baby polar bear, and were then presented with an award for ‘Fossil Fuel Lobbyist of the Year’. Luckily for the mucky execs, a crew of rebel ‘Scrubbers’ came along to help them clean up their act.

‘It’s a metaphor, man…’ Credit: Vincenzo Lullo

“The IMO has a chance to turn things around” said one rebel, “but it needs to get out of bed with the fossil fuel industry and stand up for the environment”.

Join the crew by tweeting the French embassy, International Chamber of Shipping, and your own government. Tell them to #SortYourShipOut and #StopFakeLaws. More info on Ocean Rebellion here.

We see you, Shell

10 Nov | Southbank, London

Credit: Helena Smith.

25 years ago, nine Nigerian activists were murdered. The ‘Ogoni 9’ were executed by Nigeria’s military dictatorship for peacefully protesting the criminal environmental destruction to their region caused by Royal Dutch Shell.

Shell was found to be complicit in the executions: they provided false evidence, coached witnesses, and engaged in bribery. A quarter of a century on, demands for justice continue on the part of the Ogoni 9 families, and their case is finally being heard at the Hague.

XR rebels staged a protest in solidarity outside Shell HQ in London. Nine rebels held images of the Ogoni 9. One rebel dressed as a Shell executive and sat atop a tripod, pouring oil into a noose.

The rebels called for the UK government to exclude Shell from all future climate and policy negotiations; for a moratorium on oil and gas tax breaks and government lobbying by fossil fuel representatives; and for the exclusion of fossil fuel investments from the post-Covid economic recovery.

They also called upon Shell to make reparations to the Ogoni people. One rebel was arrested at the protest.

Money Rebellion launches with a sticker attack

20 Nov | UK-wide

Overnight, ATMs at Barclays and HSBC banks across the UK were decorated with some truth-telling stickers. Rebels joined forces with Sharklays and Brandalism to draw ATM users’ attention to the shocking contributions of their banks.

Both banks were targeted for their ecocidal investment strategies, as outed by a recent banking report. In 2019 alone, top investment banks collectively lent over $2.6 TRILLION to companies linked to wildlife and ecosystem destruction.

The sticker-slapping action marked the start of Money Rebellion (£R). This will target regulators (i.e. government) AND those who fuel and profit from the destructive system directly: the global financial institutions.

Alongside trusted direct action tactics, £R will deploy new acts of financial disobedience to rewire our political economy. These include debt and tax strikes, and the redirecting of bank loans to green causes as unofficial reparations.

From Gandhi’s opposition to the colonial Salt Tax in India to the boycotting of Barclays during Apartheid in South Africa, history has shown how targeted economic resistance can bolster wider protest movements.

Listen to the £R talk to find out more, sign up to get involved, read the £R Guide for Local Groups, and follow £R actions on telegram/Insta/FB/Twitter.

XR Co-signs Giant Letter to #ReRightHistory

12 Nov | Houses of Parliament, London

Credit: Gareth Morris

XR now stands in active solidarity with Action for Climate Truth and Reparations (ACTR) and Africans Rising to repair our shared home.

Our toxic system is accelerating climate breakdown and has deep colonial foundations that continue to perpetuate climate injustices.

We simply cannot save the Earth without healing the harm caused by slavery and dismantling the racism of today.

Three ACTR activists, who are also rebels, undertook a difficult and dangerous climb up the Houses of Parliament to drop a 10m high letter addressed ‘To the people of the United Kingdom’.

The letter calls on us all to honestly acknowledge the human cost of slavery, to #ReRightHistory through Truth and Healing Commissions, to remove all African debts and to make reparations.

Marvina (pictured above on the left), Campaign Coordinator at ACTR and Africans Rising, said it was ‘phenomenal to see allies working together on this historic action’ and that it was ‘poignant to hang the letter on the room where Africa was scrambled for’. She says that ‘having support from other movements like XR will hopefully demonstrate how real allyship works.’

Following the banner drop, Marvina will be working to further join up the voices of Africans Rising, ACTR, Black Lives Matter Leeds, Women of Colour and XR to grow the allied movement.

One rebel climber said: ‘It was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done. There was a real risk we could be shot. But the demands in the letter are exactly the measures that address the source of climate change. By amplifying this urgent message from Africans Rising we did our duty. That’s what it felt like: duty.’

We call on all Rebels to please read, share and act on this important letter.

To get involved and learn more about ACTR, email You can also follow ACTR on socials, donate to cover the legal costs of the action and sign Africans Rising’s petition to the Queen here.
Africans Rising now has a UK Chapter uniting Africans in the diaspora and on the continent. Connect with them on Twitter to join the movement.

Announcements Back to top

Know your Post-lockdown Protest rights

Not sure what the latest COVID tier system means for organising protests in your area? Check out this handy guide from XR’s Police Liaison team, they’ve got you covered!

Get in touch with your local council – CEE Bill

Gone are the days when councils were only about buses and bins. Local authorities are often one step ahead of the game on climate action: hundreds of them have declared an emergency and many are leading the way on citizen-led decision-making. And together they can mount considerable pressure on the UK government.

We’ve drafted two notices of motion expressing support for the CEE bill – one for councils who have declared a climate emergency, and one for councils who have not declared a climate emergency.

Why not get in touch with your local council asking them to pass the motion? Come on, come on, do the council motion!

Wanted: Potential CEE legal appeals

The Legal Strategy team needs help finding cases where local / national governments have made decisions that go against the declaration of the climate and ecological emergency. Examples include: approving of licenses without appropriate environmental impact assessments or building works that might have environmental impacts. If you are aware of anything like this, please contact us so that we can see if it is something that might have a legal challenge.

We’re also looking for people who work in education whose roles are subject to guidance issued by the Department for Education in England who can help challenge the recent decision regarding anti-capitalist literature.

If you can help with either, please contact us at

XR Families’ Activism Advent Calendar

We’re excited to announce our Activism Advent Calendar! Check it out to find an idea a day to fill your month with fun and meaningful acts. You can print the calendar to have in your home, or simply follow online.

Each day we will publish a post with more details, recipes and ideas to help you along the way. Please share what you get up to on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Must-reads Back to top

Thank you

Thank you so much for reading! Even as we keep safe distance, 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

This year’s been tough for us, as it has been for many, many people. If you have money to spare right now, consider supporting us to keep the Rebellion going. This work still needs doing. Thank you.

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