THE BIG ONE: WILL EXTINCTION REBELLION BE FORCED TO UNQUIT?
April 18, 2023 by Extinction Rebellion
April 17, 2023 by Extinction Rebellion
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**PRESS CONFERENCE RECORDING** – (Passcode: &Ym5*Tvz)
This morning, Extinction Rebellion and new allies from leading environmental and social justice groups delivered two fresh demands  to the government during a press conference (access full recording using this link) – and set a deadline of seven days for Ministers to enter into negotiations about how they will plan to deliver them.
XR and high-profile organisations including Greenpeace and War on Want are demanding that the government stop the search for new fossil fuels immediately in a transition towards reparatory justice. This should be led by emergency citizens’ assemblies to let the people decide how to end the fossil fuel era quickly and fairly.
If Ministers fail to respond by 5pm on Monday, April 24 with an agreement to create a plan to deliver the demands, XR and allies have vowed to step up their campaigns and actions across the country to force them to do so.
“Four months ago, Extinction Rebellion announced ‘We quit’ and entered into a period of alliance-building with other movements and groups by temporarily stepping back from our tactics of civil disobedience,” said Rob Callender of Extinction Rebellion.
“Since then, the government has made policy announcements that effectively double down on deadly climate chaos. This is their last chance to show us that they are serious about saving our lives and our futures by agreeing to enter negotiations around our demands.
“A failure to do so will mean that Extinction Rebellion has no choice but to unquit – and to step up our campaign to force the government to take the drastic and radical actions necessary to avoid runaway climate change. This time, we’re not alone – allies from this 200-strong bloc will be stepping up alongside us.”
(Quotes from today’s press conference can be found below in Editors Notes!)
The two demands are the centrepiece of The Big One, a four-day protest of movement building and deliberation in the area around Parliament, kicking off on Friday, April 21 and ending on Monday, April 24. It will see a powerful new climate and social justice alliance bringing tens of thousands of people onto the streets of London.
The unprecedented collaboration has emerged around a shared determination to make a stand against the government’s criminal wrongdoing over the climate and a multitude of crises in our society. It has been joined by NGOs, trade unions, ethical companies and campaign groups representing millions of people from all walks of life and political points of view across the country.
Joe Davies of Don’t Pay UK said: “Don’t Pay UK are joining groups from across the UK to stand against the continuing destruction of the planet. We have seen how energy price gouging from companies making extortionate amounts of money from a war in Europe has put people in the UK into a heat or eat situation. The injustice of energy price rises during a cost of living crisis needs an answer, and we are glad to be part of that.”
Austin Harney from the Public and Commercial Services union said: “PCS as a trade union for the civil service and the commercial sector has a vital role to play in joining The Big One in support of Extinction Rebellion. We specialise in the energy sector through the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA), the Forestry Commission, the aviation sector, the Department of Energy and Climate Change and many more sectors of industry. It is time that this government stops wasting our taxpayers’ money on energy waste.
“Instead, the money should be invested in green jobs as well as into our workers’ pay, terms and conditions during this cost-of-living crisis. We need to increase corporation tax on these global multi-national companies that are damaging our environment and aim to establish a National Climate Service. A damage to our environment is a damage to us all! It is all the more reason that trade unions must resist through industrial action for the future of our workers and all their families who live on this planet.”
Nick Dearden of Global Justice Now said: “We’re backing The Big One to say clearly that the capture of political power by an elite is preventing us from dealing with the most urgent issue we face: the climate crisis. But just as vested interests in this country are putting the profits of big business ahead of maintaining a liveable planet, so too has the global economy been captured by a small handful of corporations and financiers who are destroying our future. We’ve got to break that power and make the polluters pay. That means building the biggest coalition we can, just like those before us who have fought for, and won, fundamental change. The Big One is the start of that.”
Over four days of peaceful, non-disruptive protest, tens of thousands of people from the various groups will meet to discuss how to work together in the future and deliberate about how to get involved with three ‘stepping up’ pathways: act in solidarity with the trade union struggle, build stronger communities and prepare for future civil disobedience.
“The four days of The Big One will see the people deciding what to do next if the government lets us down yet again by failing to meet our deadline,” said Callender of XR. “By 5pm on Monday, April 24th, the people will have delivered a plan for stepping up their campaigns.”
A government failure to respond by the deadline will mean a call to step up being issued at 10am on Tuesday, April 25th. “Within three months, Extinction Rebellion will have designed a plan for the greatest acts of civil disobedience in this country’s history,” said Callender.
The two demands were delivered to Parliament this morning (Tuesday) by three generations of the same family. Hester Campbell, 43, concerned mother who delivered the demands with her two children and father, said: “Parents like myself are increasingly concerned about the huge issues our government is neglecting. Hunger, inequality, racism, and the climate crisis – all are rapidly worsening. The government is failing in its duty to protect us and we are calling for that to end.”
Her 7-year-old son, Drake, 7, said: “We have come to Parliament to deliver two demands for a better world. These demands will give children a fairer, safer future.”
Drake’s grandfather, Dirk Campbell, 72, said: “I’ve seen the government breaking promise after promise. We are offering them a last chance and they must take it seriously.”
Their call for action comes four months after Extinction Rebellion announced “we quit”. In that time, the government has supported new oil and gas drilling projects in the North Sea  and announced that its ‘Net Zero Strategy’ depends on carbon capture and storage – extremely costly technologies that are not yet developed to remove carbon on the scale necessary .
The government has continued in this vein since the 2015 Paris Agreement, in which it pledged to keep global warming below 1.5℃ . Even that was known to be unsafe at the time . Now 1.5℃ is no longer credible . Meanwhile, the ecosystems we depend on for our survival are vanishing quicker than in any of the five mass extinctions that have struck our planet  and current policies for continued investment in fossil fuels puts us on course for over 3℃ of global heating – a catastrophic level of warming that would render the earth uninhabitable for billions of people .
The Big One, and the huge collaboration that has grown around it, have clearly caught the public imagination. Last night, it was announced that a £250,000 crowdfunder had been met and that a second ‘doubling down’ crowdfunder called the ‘The Big One and Beyond’ was powering toward a target of £500,000.
Key quotes from the press conference
‘We will be taking more radical action because the clock is ticking for every human and non-human alive today. We are not going to stand quietly by while time runs out and we all face the worst suffering possible.
‘At 5pm on Monday 24th April, time will be up for the government to respond to our collective demands by agreeing to enter into negotiations to implement them. At 10am on Tuesday 25 April, XR will issue a call to step up our actions and campaigns to every member of the unprecedented collaboration of groups and movements that we have built.
‘This time, Extinction Rebellion are not alone. Here comes everyone!’
– Marijn van de Geer, Extinction Rebellion
‘Every day more lives and livelihoods are lost to the climate crisis. This coalition of groups and movements who now get this fact and want to take action together to do something about it. The Big One will be a springboard for building a bigger and bigger movement that drives the long-term systemic change that our society needs.
‘We will challenge and hold to account the global vested interests – the fossil fuel companies, the big banks, and the agricultural and food industries – for the damage they have done to our lives, our futures and our world.
‘We will campaign for a massive tax on the fossil fuel companies and a re-writing of the rules of international finance that will put the lives of people above the profits of big business.
‘No single event can change the world, but The Big One will be a transformational moment for the groups and people involved because it will be a collective opportunity to discuss and create new tactics that will make our voices heard and drive change. And there will be much, much more to come.’
– Nick Dearden, Global Justice Now
‘Right now, with everything that is happening in the world, we need solidarity more than ever and that is what The Big One is all about. It will empower and bring together 10s of thousands of people with very different opinions and modalities of protest and resistance to share their goals and find ways of delivering them together. We are very excited to be part of it.’
– Joe Davies, Don’t Pay UK
‘Our union has consistently opposed the expansion of Heathrow, of the nuclear industry, and of military spending, despite other unions taking a ‘jobs first’ stance, and we will continue to do so because we want more green jobs and a safe climate for the future.
‘We believe that the union movement should stage more, more frequent and bigger industrial actions and strikes in favour of climate action – and we will be encouraging that movement to come on board for The Big One and decide what we do next to step things up and be in solidarity with our new allies.’
– Austin Harney, PCS union
‘It’s quite astonishing how this government want to legislate out of existence a bunch of hippies with tubes of glue in their pocket because they scare the State so much. The political establishment are busy introducing a set of authoritarian and draconian laws such as the Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing Act and the Public Order Act that shut down access to effective forms of protest that involve in the smallest amount of noise or disruption.
‘It’s important to have an open conversation of the impacts of these laws. But it’s also important to note that they are not having the chilling effect that the State had hoped for. Instead, people are coming together at moments like The Big One to find new and creative ways to protest effectively.
‘Stepping up after The Big One is going to take many different and disruptive forms. It doesn’t have to mean taking to the streets with us or glueing yourself to things.
‘We have recently seen lawyers who had ways to disrupt their profession by refusing to take part in the prosecution of climate activists. I can imagine people within the media, which continues to be guilty of untruths and misleading stories about the climate, developing their own ways of disrupting their own industry.
‘Over the months ahead, millions of people are going to start getting very creative and clever about what disruption means to them and what they are prepared to do to make it happen – because more and more them know for sure that we are in deep shit and that those in power are doing next to nothing about it.’
– Clare Farrell, Extinction Rebellion co-founder
Notes to Editors
Notes to Editors
 The two demands and signatories so far – https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Tp8rBs-SkYZszKZREotL23morRVoTKdRITmnLnkXYmk/edit
About Extinction Rebellion
Extinction Rebellion (XR) is a decentralised, international and politically non-partisan movement using non-violent direct action and civil disobedience to persuade governments to act justly on the Climate and Ecological Emergency.
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Time has almost entirely run out to address the climate and 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, leading to societal collapse and mass loss of life. The younger generation, racially marginalised communities and the Global South are on the front-line. No-one will escape the devastating impacts.