I listen to people on the climate crisis. Many know about Extinction Rebellion (XR) and its non-violent street campaigns.
Some concerned people say to me: “Why doesn’t Extinction Rebellion start……” Their suggestions are usually worthwhile to consider. If applied, they could make a difference as well.
I have a simple response to all those who think that XR should do this or do that.
My response is: “Why don’t you follow through with your suggestion. XR explore countless numbers of proposals. You may have an original idea or not. Start today.
My second response is: “Give an hour a day or seven hours a week to addressing climate crisis in the real world – not just scanning Facebook/Twitter/Google etc.”
Numerous XR activists engage in service to resolve the ecological crisis through giving much precious time every week.
Extinction Rebellion (XR) has agreed to continue in 2020 to engage in the politics of disruption and rebellion to wake up indulgent consumers, corporations and politicians to the need for urgent action in the face of the climate emergency
To its credit, XR continues to engage in exploration of fresh strategies. XR evolves through engaging in listening, national pooling, consultation and forming together to creates changes.
XR now sends out the word to XR groups in cities, towns and villages to campaign also for significant local change in environmental policies. There is a strong encouragement for local XR organisations to engage in urgent action to change policies of county councils, district councils and local councils.
Local businesses, corporations, supermarkets transportation and more need to develop a radical change of policies and practices to reduce carbon emissions, wasteful production, pollution and harmful actions. XR will work to make this happen.
Despite the UK government and police attempt to target XR as a terrorist organisation, XR has considerable support from the general public from children to the elderly.
If regional government and regional businesses take no real steps towards environmental justice, then they may well find XR protesters arriving on their doorstep with the media close at hand.
XR activists plan to write enviromental friendly policies to present to local government and businesses who refuse to write and implement their own.
XR cultivates rebels who fearlessly make demands for action, locally and nationally. Rebels draw up action plans with a national strategy. Mobilisation of protest functions as a key.
Voices of Doubt
I hear voices of doubt of rebels targeting local areas. Some rebels want to keep the focus on disruption of the powerful in the centre of the major cities used as the location of government, media, financial institutions and headquarters of businesses and banks.
These voices express concern that if XR groups also turn to target local issues, this will trigger a weakening of the movement.
Totnes (population 8400) in South Devon has reputedly one of the largest XR groups in the country with around 70 – 120 attending fortnightly meetings. A handful of people in a local XR group campaign to change local government policies for more than a year. Some of them have worked hard for years for such change. The change makers meet with local politicians, focus on local issues, offer alternatives and employ different kinds of tactics and action.
XR recognises the importance of staying in the public eye, being creative, instilling non-violent rebellion and being fully engaged. This requires national and local media to keep climate emergency at the top of the agenda.
The Totnes group will continue to act locally with the intention to “draw more and more people in and embolden them to join national actions.”
Totnes XR wants to “communicate with public in a novel, heart opening and evidence- based ways.”
We shall see whether the national AND local priorities strengthen or weaken the campaign that targets the powerful.
All credit to all those involved. I view this expansion of the campaign as a very healthy step development.
Areas to Address
I would also like to see XR address several important areas.
To its immense credit, XR supports dedicated ethics in all forms of communication, XR states on its website: “Our vision for Extinction Rebellion puts love at the heart of change.”
Here are four of my concerns with XR:
- Crude views, which seem to ignore XR ethics, by XR co-founder, Roger Hallam in November 2019 and January 2020 to the media. What is the XR response?
- Lack of outreach of XR to other organisations engaged in social and global injustice to share knowledge and skills.
- Lack of development of empathy and communication with other campaign organisations to increase the possibility for mass mobilisation through collective action.
- Neglect/lack of support/skills/understanding, in and outside of XR meetings, of those suffering over the climate crisis.
In the next month or two, I will reflect more and expand on the above four concerns and other concerns on my blog etc.
Individuals, groups and organisations need to engage in regular inner reflection otherwise……
Towards Ecological Harmony
Hello Christopher, Thank you for your thought provoking blog which I always enjoy reading. I joined XR in January 2019 and was involved in the April and October rebellions. I look back on 2019 as the year in which XR raised public awareness of the climate emergency and brought attention of this to the media. The greatest achievement was perhaps the Government’s declaration of a climate emergency in April which came after XR activists had managed to maintain a rebellion long enough to threaten the Government. Since then not much has changed. 2020 needs a change in policy from XR now the public are in general aware of the dangers we face.
Yesterday I heard James Thornton CEO of ClimateEarth and zen priest speaking on ‘Private passions’ radio 3. I was impressed with the work of climate earth to make new laws with regard to environmental issues and feel that this is now the way forward alongside well thought out XR activity. The time for actions that disrupt people without bringing change is to my mind over. There have been such actions in Scotland where I live. I can’t see any point in stopping people from entering petrol stations to fill up their cars, or climbing up oil rigs. How does that change anything? I feel the only worthwhile action is mass disruption in Westminster which forces the government to make policy changes. Time is short. XR is planning something starting on May 23rd. Let’s hope it’s big.
As far as Roger Hallam is concerned he was foolish to make comments that could be predicted to cause offence but considering his achievements in XR I think there has been an over reaction. It seems he has been ‘put on trial’ by XR and it has caused a considerable distraction from what needs to be done. There are those in the movement who have their own agenda and they threaten to cause a split in the movement which would be counter productive.
Well done Totnes group for what you are doing.
Kind regards Denise Hay
Thank you for your very thoughtful response. Roger Hallam did apologise for what he said in Germany about the holocaust but then caused offence again in January. A major spokesperson for XR has to be very vigilant with speech. The media exploit his words to undermine the work of XR. Secondly, mass disruption takes priority and in the in-between periods we can make an emphasis on personal, social and environmental change. As you quoted, we need legislation. We need laws. Governments let us down through leaving the corporations to introduce rock bottom minimal change on environmental issues and then advertise it widely to promote their products.
I remember years ago Christopher when you said that you enjoyed living in a house with a fireplace. You, we, just didn’t understand how bad that was for the environment. We didn’t understand so many things — how bad flying was, how bad single use plastic was and all that stuff. Now we know a little more and we try to live with a little less of a carbon footprint. Me, I bought a thermal imaging camera and starting next week I’ll offer a free service to the people of my little Midwestern American town. I’m volunteering to scan their houses for energy leaks. Many of these old houses have walls with no insulation so the houses cost a small fortune to heat. If the houses have better insulation, they will burn less fossil fuel. We all have to do what we can.