The Big One Day 2: Extinction Rebellion links up with Earth Day organisers for biodiversity march in Westminster, as numbers expected to swell - Extinction Rebellion UK
Family of bees at The Big One

The Big One Day 2: Extinction Rebellion links up with Earth Day organisers for biodiversity march in Westminster, as numbers expected to swell

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The Big One Day 2: Extinction Rebellion links up with Earth Day organisers for biodiversity march in Westminster, as numbers expected to swell

Following on from a first successful day, Extinction Rebellion and 200 other organisations are back in central London today. There were an estimated 20,000 people in Westminster on Friday for the People’s Pickets, with groups gathering outside major government departments, as well as outside the Tufton Street think-tanks and the Houses of Parliament, to highlight the environmental and social failures across them all. 40,000 people watched XR’s own live coverage, The Big One TV, across multiple platforms [1].

An estimated 50,000 people are expected over the course of the four days with attendees today meeting on Victoria Street at 1pm for a Unite for Nature Rally. The crowd will be addressed by TV presenter Chris Packham, Insect Apocalypse author Dave Goulson, Jyoti Fernandes from Land Workers’ Alliance, and Delia Mattis from Black Lives Matter speaking on the current climate and ecological crisis and solutions. The Biodiversity March, which has been arranged with Earth Day organisers, is set to start from Westminster Abbey at 1:30pm with attendees encouraged to don costumes, masks and nature based art.

The route will circle around government departments in Westminster, ending in Parliament Square for a mass ‘die-in’, a symbolic spectacle where participants will spread out and lie down in silence, in memory and mourning for the heartbreaking 70% decline in wild animal populations since the first Earth Day in 1970. [2] A recent study shows that the ecosystems we depend on for our survival are vanishing quicker than in any of the five mass extinctions that have struck our planet. [3] 

Our government has largely been absent when it comes to addressing the biodiversity crisis, and has so far been absent this weekend, as Extinction Rebellion and allies await a response to our demands before the 5pm deadline on Monday 24th April. We are demanding an end to the fossil fuel era and a fair future guided by the independent advice of ordinary people deliberating through citizens’ assemblies to break the deadlock of capture by private interests. [4]

Greenpeace UK’s executive director, Areeba Hamid, said: “As the government continues to fan the flames of the climate and biodiversity crisis it’s clear that only a collective effort can put it out. We will either win as a movement or lose as individual organisations. And through bringing together groups from across civil society, The Big One will act as the catalyst of a new united fight against the vested interests putting profits over people and the planet – a fight that Greenpeace is glad to be a part of.”

Mathew from XR Exeter Biodiversity Group – the group who had the original idea for the march said: “The ecological side of the crisis is too often overlooked. C02 emissions is just one of several planetary boundaries, including habitat destruction and pollution, that we are already overshooting. Even if we reach zero carbon, continued growth in consumption will lead to ecological collapse. The natural world is suffering and dying; it needs protection and restoration – for its own sake and for human survival.”

Zoe Cohen, a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion said: “So far the atmosphere has been amazing and it’s been great to see so many people from different organisations come together for the first time. There is a very clear desire from the public to discuss climate solutions together and build something different. The climate and ecological crisis isn’t something that is going to happen in the future, it is already here, we can see it with the noticeable lack of insects and wildlife every spring and summer. It’s time that the government took this seriously and listened to the people here and the many not present who are represented by the organisations here.”

Notes for editors

[1] The Big One TV

[2] Living Planet Report 2022

[2] Ecosystem collapse happening at fastest rate in world history

[3] Our collective demands

[4] Full programme of events for The Big One

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.