UNITE FOR JUSTICE: Extinction Rebellion, Netpol, Just Stop Oil and others join forces to take action at Royal Courts of Justice
January 31, 2023 by Extinction Rebellion
- People from over 25 social justice groups – including Extinction Rebellion, Just Stop Oil, and Netpol – gathered outside the Royal Courts of Justice to highlight the failure of the justice system to protect the rights of people and planet
- A 3m high ‘Justice Arch’ with a banner stating ‘Unite for Justice’ was erected in front of the Royal Courts. The arch was topped with scales holding the Earth on one side weighed down by piles of money on the other.
- A table of ‘climate criminals’ was set up and actors representing Rishi Sunak, Boris Johnson, and Rupert Murdoch, partied with faceless individuals bearing the logos of polluting corporations like Shell, BP, Vanguard, Monsanto, and Barclays
- The action marks the 80-day countdown to ‘The Big One’ on 21 April 2023, when Extinction Rebellion will bring 100,000 people to stand together at the Houses of Parliament
At 11.30 today, Extinction Rebellion have joined over 20 other groups – including Just Stop Oil and Netpol – outside the Royal Courts of Justice to highlight the justice system’s failure to protect the rights of people and planet.
The group set up a table outside the Courts of Justice where ‘climate criminals’ wearing Rishi Sunak, Boris Johnson, and Rupert Murdoch masks partied with faceless representatives of polluting corporations bearing the logos of Shell, BP, Monsanto, McDonalds, Vanguard, and Barclays.
A 3m high ‘Justice Arch’ was erected in front of the court with a banner reading ‘Unite for Justice’. The arch was topped with scales holding the Earth on one side weighed down by piles of money on the other. Two individuals dressed as ‘Lady Justice’ – stylised as the justice we have now, and the justice we need instead – stood under the arch.
The action aims to highlight the UK justice system’s failure to hold those responsible for the destruction of our planet legally accountable. It also honoured Earth and human rights defenders around the world, many of whom have a disproportionate price – from incarceration to death – for taking action. Legal cases fighting corporations, governments and the law itself were spotlighted.
Speaking on behalf of Extinction Rebellion, Melanie Nazareth, Lawyer, said: “The legal system is failing us, both here in the UK and around the world. The scales of justice, thrown out of whack by powerful vested interests and corporate might, are no longer in balance. We’re highlighting the injustice of a legal system that is too-often prepared to side with the rich and powerful, instead of defending the rights of ordinary citizens and the planet.
“Our world is being destroyed before our eyes, yet Lady Justice is frequently willing to look the other way. As Booker Prize-winning novelist Ben Okri recently asked: ‘“Why is it easier to punish people who are trying to save our world than to face the causes of the environmental disaster hanging over the human race?’” 
Representatives from more than 25 different activist groups brought symbols of their struggle to find justice and delivered short speeches under the arch. Violet Coco, an Australian climate activist, had a symbolic burnt teddy bear, destroyed during the country’s devastating wildfires, presented on her behalf.
The event ended with a display of photos of activists who have lost life or liberty in their struggle to protect people and planet. Blank placards were held up to honour those whose lives are currently too at risk to be named publicly.
Monika Sobiecki, 34, barrister and partner at Bindmans LLP, and member of Lawyers Are Responsible, said: “As the climate, ecological and biodiversity emergencies intensify, ordinary people are following their consciences and taking non-violent direct action. Many of these conscientious protectors are paying a terrible price – from incarceration to death.
“Meanwhile, the courts and the legal system continue to take harsh measures against peaceful protestors and are unwilling or unable to punish the real wrongdoers. There is still no international crime of ecocide, allowing individuals and corporations with money and power to irreparably damage the biosphere with impunity.
“Last year I and more than 250 other legal professionals, from juniors to King’s Counsel, signed a letter warning that to breach the 1.5C global warming threshold set out in the Paris Agreement would threaten mass loss of life, disorder and the end of the rule of law. This was far from enough. Now it is time for more lawyers to take a stand of conscience. We are Lawyers Are Responsible – and we are determined to make the legal profession look long and hard at themselves and their practices, to stop lawyers being perpetrators of and bystanders to the climate and ecological crises. If this chimes with you and you want to stand with us – join us.”
Amber Rose-Dewey from Campaign Against Arms Trade said:”Justice rarely plays a role in the international arms trade. The UK government licenses billions of pounds worth of arms to human rights abusing regimes without thought to the death and misery they are causing. Profit is more important than human rights or war crimes.”
Earlier this month, Extinction Rebellion announced its ‘100 Days’ campaign, which aims to mobilise 100,000 people to stand outside the Houses of Parliament on 21 April for ‘The Big One’. Today marks the 80 day countdown to that event as Extinction Rebellion continues to build bridges with people and organisations for April. Extinction Rebellion’s official ‘ticker’ count currently shows over 10,500 people have pledged to be there.
NOTES TO EDITORS
ABOUT EXTINCTION REBELLION
- The Big One April 21st 2023 | Find out about our biggest protest yet and to take part!
- Donate to April 21st | Support the Rebellion
- What Emergency? | Read about the true scale of the climate crisis
- XR UK Local Groups | View a map of all local groups
- XR UK website | Find out more about XRUK
- XR Global website | Discover what’s going on in XR around the globe!
Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and increasingly rapid climate change. If urgent and radical action isn’t taken, we’re heading towards 4˚C warming, and the societal collapse and mass loss of life that that implies. The younger generation, racially marginalised communities and the Global South are on the front-line. No-one will escape the devastating impacts.
Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.
Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:
- Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
- Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
- Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.