The Big One goes Big: 50,000 people expected to descend on Westminster to join the biggest protest tackling the joint climate and political crises ever held in the UK
April 21, 2023 by Extinction Rebellion
Household names from arts, culture, music and science will be joining an anticipated 50,000 people in the streets around Parliament this weekend as The Big One, a massive four-day protest demanding immediate government action on the accelerating climate, ecological and political crises, kicks off in earnest.
Top film actor Juliet Stevenson, White Teeth author Zadie Smith, legendary producer and composer, Brian Eno, human rights advocate, Bianca Jagger, and indie band She Drew The Gun are amongst the big names joining the unprecedented action organised by Extinction Rebellion and the more than 200 environmental and social justice groups representing millions. They include Greenpeace, War on Want, Avaaz, Global Justice Now, Don’t Pay UK and the PCS union.
People’s Pickets have formed around the entrances to every major government department in Whitehall calling for urgent new policies affecting people and communities around the country right now, to tackle the many strands of the climate emergency. They range from the cost of living crisis to the failure to insulate our homes, deal with sewage pumped into seas and rivers and to protect vulnerable refugees fleeing war and famine.
Rob Callender, XR spokesperson said: “While we suffer the cost of living crisis, oil company shareholders rake in record profits. The people know it’s not a crisis, it’s a scandal! So we’re setting up People’s Pickets at these departments until they negotiate with us. And we’ll be back when the civil servants strike on the 28th. And we’ll be back when the nurses strike on the 30th. Because we’re all in this together. Tackling the climate crisis means creating a better, fairer, more caring society for everyone.”
Tufton Street – the home of the opaquely-funded so-called ‘think tanks’ who spout the worst climate denial and promote disinformation unchallenged across our national media – has been targeted by pickets demanding an end to their deadly campaign of lies.
Natasha Walter, writer and campaigner: “Writers Rebel is picketing Tufton Street, the home to a powerful group of think tanks including the main climate science denial group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which is funded by fossil fuel companies and lobbies for fossil fuel interests. By picketing Tufton Street, Writers Rebel will bring its remarkable blend of truth telling and creative power to the very heart of climate science denial.
“It’s easy to feel helpless and hopeless just now. It looks as though the world is moving inexorably towards climate catastrophe and ecological collapse. But this is not the time to give in to doom and despair. This is the time to seize the opportunity that we still have to call for change and work for change and believe in change.”
Best-selling and awarding-winning writer Zadie Smith will be just one of the top writers joining the picket. Others include Ben Okri, Mya-Rose Craig, Rupert Read, Anita Sethi and Owen Sheers.
The pickets continue until 6pm and each has their own programme with speakers, music, street performance, rebel dance classes and other workshops. Notable speakers include: Ben Okri, Caroline Lucas MP, Natasha Walter, Jay Griffiths, Zadie Smith and Dale Vince.
Tomorrow, tens of thousands more are expected to pour into London to join the biodiversity march in collaboration with Earth Day organisers. Everyone is encouraged to arrive at Parliament Square at 12pm for a Unite to Survive rally where an exciting lineup of speakers will warm up the crowd. They include Chris Packham, Dave Goulson, author Jyoti Fernandes, Land Workers’ Alliance, Delia Mattis and Black Lives Matter.
On Tuesday, Extinction Rebellion and a growing number of organisations involved in The Big One alliance set the clock ticking on two demands: that the government pledge to end all new oil, gas and coal projects and launch emergency Citizens Assemblies to allow the people to decide how to end the fossil fuel era.
Over the four-days of The Big One, tens of thousands of ordinary people from all walks of life – currently pouring into London from Scotland to Cornwall – will debate and deliberate how to step up campaigns and actions if the government fails to respond adequately by 5pm on Monday April 24th. This is the work we need to do.
Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now! said: “The government and their tame media and business friends have had 30 years to tackle the crisis that is threatening all of our futures and they have done almost nothing except make it worse and more dangerous.
“We’ve had enough. We’re here uniting to survive. This is the start of something big – a show of unity by groups representing millions that will grow into an unstoppable movement this year to give the government no choice but to end the lethal madness of Business As Usual.”
Over the next four days, the festival of protest and deliberation around Westminster will include a vast range of events including:
- Mega climate choir (Friday, 3pm)
- DIY People’s Assemblies: deliberative democracy in action (daily, 3pm)
- Music and speaker programme featuring Chris Packham, Mya-Rose Craig, Asad Rehman, Juliet Stevenson, Sam Lee, Mark Thomas, Reverend Billy & The Church Of Stop Shopping Choir (daily, various times)
- Biodiversity march and mass ‘die-in’ (Saturday, 1pm–3pm)
- Running Out Of Time! London Marathon intersects with The Big One (Sunday)
- 20,000 Small Boats Action at the Home Office (Sunday, 4:30pm)
- March To End Fossil Fuels (Monday, 1pm)
- The Finale: Picket Parliament – has the government engaged with our demands or we will be forced to step it up? (Monday, 5pm)
Meanwhile the clock ticks on our ultimatum on the government.
Full programme: https://extinctionrebellion.uk/the-big-one/programme/
Notes to Editors
 The Big One: https://extinctionrebellion.uk/the-big-one/
 Full list of supporters: https://extinctionrebellion.uk/the-big-one/supporters/
 People’s pickets: https://extinctionrebellion.uk/the-big-one/peoples-pickets/
 Full programme: https://extinctionrebellion.uk/the-big-one/programme/
 The demands: https://extinctionrebellion.uk/the-big-one/collective-demand/
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.
The Big One: Unite To Survive, April 21-24 2023 | Find out about our biggest protest yet and to take part!
Donate to The Big One | 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 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.