The Big One
From 21 April 2023 100,000 people will gather at the Houses of Parliament.
In 2019 the UN released a stark warning. Around the world school children went on strike and 10,000 people came out on the streets of London. Shortly after, Parliament declared an environment and climate emergency.
But not much has changed in the behaviour of those in power. Imagine what 100,000 people working together could do. Imagine you are one of them. Would change be unstoppable?
That’s how many have said they’ll be there. Will you be one of 100,000?
This is a moment of huge potential.
Word on the streets is that the cost of living crisis is the price of climate inaction. The government’s unlawful plans have never been so transparently flawed and widely understood.
With a winter of increasing discontent upon us, the repeated failures of COP (insert number here) and no end to political dysfunction in sight – people are desperate for change and can’t afford anything else.
It’s no surprise that across almost every sector, unions are re-energised and strikes are taking place. There is something universal about the need for fair and dignified working conditions – part of the nation lifting up together and demanding new direction.
Worsening climate conditions are already impacting global food supplies and that will only further exacerbate the cost-of-living crisis, meaning that change is not only necessary, it is inevitable.
The potency of the moment cannot be overstated.
UK nature and conservation organisations are fuming and energy companies admit that mass non-payment campaigns by the public pose an “existential” threat, proving that the power is in the hands of the people.
The latest draconian attempt by the government to shut down and criminalise effective protest is only increasing public sympathy toward brave activists using their voices to stand up for justice and the loving protection of all humanity. Unsurprisingly there is a huge momentum shift.
Public opinion polls now show that support for direct action has never been higher.
This is it.
With XR’s position in the environmental space comes a responsibility to deliver an effective strategy for change. Right now all signs point toward cooperation between groups and movements. Horrified by the climate disasters unfolding around us, thousands are ready to do the work.
So, what might that look like?
Gathering at the Houses of Parliament day after day in large numbers means we can leave the locks, glue and paint behind and instead demonstrate faith in a critical mass of people to create a moment that’s impossible to ignore.
The invitation is to all humans, all movements, all organisations to come together and stay for as long as you can.
You are needed, we are needed, everyone is needed. Here comes everyone.
- What is The Big One for?
To demand a fair society and a citizen-led end to the fossil fuel era.
- How will it work?
This will be the biggest mobilisation campaign XR has ever undertaken.
The countdown to The Big One will involve holding millions of conversations with friends, family, colleagues and strangers, as well as target partner organisations across and beyond the environmental space.
A powerful targeted marketing campaign across all channels will reach new audiences with an accessible, inclusive and easy-to-understand invitation while simultaneously bringing in funds.
Integrated with XR’s methodical mobilisation campaign Project 3.5, thousands of people with a shared purpose will build bridges of inclusion and cooperation, and through revitalised engagement and a calendar of actions. As the days count down, momentum, relationships, resilience, trust and numbers build up.
Every day people are way ahead of those in power, from organising locally, showing up, to donations and everything in between everyone has a part to play.
Smart, decentralised social infrastructure co-designed in the planning phase between now and April might look like many things. There is creative work to do, many skilled groups and people – like you – and time to come up with the solutions together
- Why will this work?
There is a threshold of numbers, human energy, above which people power cannot be stopped. That’s what the target is. That’s why you need to be there.
On 4 November 1989 hundreds of thousands of people gathered peacefully in the Alexanderplatz in what was then East Berlin and refused to move. Five days later the Berlin Wall came down. There were no arrests.
Recent history is full of examples of the power of people power … of your power. Here are just a few: Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, Manila, February 1986; Wenceslas Square, Prague, November 1989; Maidan Square, Kyiv, November 2004.
All that’s missing from the list is Parliament Square, London, April 2023.
Gathering peacefully in such large numbers at the nation’s seat of power will create a positive, irreversible, societal tipping point.
- Why 100,000 people?
100,000 is the number of signatories on a petition that gets a question raised in Parliament.
As such this is a meaningful number for the supposed discourse between voters and their elected representatives in Britain.
We know petitions have never worked for issues around the Climate & Biodiversity crises. It’s always a risk to set an ambitious target but this is what is necessary at this time.
The moment is ripe: the only thing worse than the Climate news is the Government. People in the UK are ready and waiting to do this.
The Big One tests the power of so many people in one place, at Parliament, all calling for the same demands, all taking nonviolent direct action. Will it be enough to trigger policy change? We hope so and there is evidence to suggest this is an experiment worth conducting.
- Why 100 Days?
The 100 Days Campaign has a goal: 100,000 at Parliament Square for The Big One. But we’re not there yet. A history of broken promises, greenwashing policies, and neglected COP commitments signify that it is time to Act Now.
Government inaction has laid down the gauntlet, it is up to everyone if we are to achieve participation the likes that the UK has ever seen before.
XR has given itself 100 days to do this work, hence the name.
Day by day, XR will countdown to The Big One.
The 100 Days name tells everyone watching the climate activism space that something is happening. Galvanising this energy to inspire the public will be the role of 100 Days.
Moving closer to the 21st April, The Big One will take centre stage, it’ll be time to drum up excitement for the action itself.
- What is this? A march? A demonstration?
It’s an action. A nonviolent, direct action. Nonviolent direct action (or NVDA for short) refers to a form of protest or activism that involves the use of peaceful, nonviolent tactics to bring about social, political, or economic change.
This can include boycotts, strikes, sit-ins, and civil disobedience, among others. It’s an alternative to violent forms of resistance or protest, as it is more effective in achieving change and can also be more inclusive, as it does not rely on the use of force or intimidation.
NVDA is often used as a way to draw attention to an issue, create public awareness and support, and put pressure on decision-makers to address the concerns of the protesters. It can also be a way for people to express their discontent and outrage while still maintaining their principles and values.
- What’s this about a change in tactics?
We recognise and celebrate the power of disruption to raise the alarm and we support those who use it. XRUK also believe that constantly evolving tactics is a necessary approach.
The Big One has been designed with inclusion at its heart – with ‘attendance over arrest’ and central element, and ‘relationships over roadblocks’ in its spirit.
- What’s all this about building relationships?
The climate and ecological crises affect all corners of life on this planet, unjustly impacting the lives of those most marginalised by the status quo. Everyone has a stake in demanding the end to the fossil fuel era.
Recent extreme flooding in Pakistan, heatwaves in India, droughts in east and west Africa, and other global climate and ecological disasters, as well as the vicious attacks on migrants, and unravelling living standards, all tell us it is the time to come together.
66% of people back nonviolent action – the public is already along with the cause, building relationships within communities will be the final encouraging push for friends, family, faith groups, campaigners, strikers, colleagues, to be there for The Big One.
Breaking out of our activist bubble and demonstrating that the climate and ecological crises are shared concerns across huge swathes of the public will make it that much more difficult for Government to dismiss the call for change.
Extinction Rebellion’s Principles & Values drive everything we do. Not only do they guide our strategy, what we think has the greatest chance of success to achieve our demands, but they promote safe spaces.
We will not be in relationship with groups that do not respect those Principles & Values. However, we equally respect that other groups will have different tactics, messaging priorities, and interests.
The task at hand is to encourage groups that have tried writing to their MPs, signed many-a-petition, and marched a thousand marches; that NVDA is something worth trying.
A dedicated relationships team is working hard to develop relationships with many movements and organisations. If you or someone you know from an organisation would like to get involved we are eager to speak – drop us a line at RelationshipsXRUK@protonmail.com
- What’s all this about Citizen-led democracy and Citizens’ Assemblies?
Citizens’ assemblies are a form of deliberative democracy, where people learn, talk and listen to each other and make decisions together.
This very ancient way of doing democracy is now increasingly happening around the world. Citizens’ assemblies are being used to solve tricky issues, not just climate.
You can find out more on our citizens’ assembly page.
- Where can I read more?
The full strategy document will be added here shortly.
2. HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED?
- Help get the word out!
Are you on social media? Check out this handy guide to getting the message out via social media platforms.
- Connect in person
Local groups across the UK are already planning how to support The Big One. Get involved and connect with people near you. Find your nearest XR group.
- Connect online
We need an army of volunteers on the phones and online to make sure things run to plan. Join us in a dedicated 100 Days campaign space.
- Support the crowdfunder
Ambitious projects have ambitious fundraising targets to match – £1m to be precise… and it’s up and running, with generous and appreciated donations coming in from far and wide.
Can you help? View the Crowdfunder.