Extinction Rebellion’s “Summer Uprising” against climate catastrophe began on Monday morning in typically brazen fashion.
Activists from the group parked boats in the middle of five major cities.
In London, Leeds, Bristol, Cardiff and Glasgow, activists blocked roads and demanded that the government “act now” over climate change.
In London a blue boat named “Polly Higgins”, after the pioneering environmental lawyer who died in April, was parked outside the Royal Courts of Justice.
Around 1,000 XR supporters staged a demonstration through central London to Millennium Green in Waterloo where protesters have set up an occupation.
They chanted “whose planet—our planet” and “this is how we win” during the two hour march.
Fay had travelled from Chichester, Sussex, to be part of the action.
“When I talk to my family about this they say that it’s the wrong way to go about it.
“But what is the right way? We’ve been trying to change governments for 30 years and we’re heading towards a cliff edge,” she said.
XR activists blocked both entrances to the London Concrete plant in Newham, east London, on Tuesday morning.
Sitting on the road outside London Concrete, Ben told Socialist Worker, “Concrete is a hugely destructive industry—it’s destructive for the planet’s ecosystems because it heats up the atmosphere.
“That’s on a global scale, but locally, there’s a school just across the way where the kids’ lungs capacity is smaller because of air pollution.”
Protest organisers say the plant has been granted permission to expand, and the construction will dump contaminated waste next to a nearby school.
Sarah from XR Greenwich is part of the “Stop Silvertown Tunnel” campaign said, “They’ve scrapped plans for a DLR extension and a pedestrian bridge but kept plans for a road crossing—and they’re building a three storey car park for heavy goods vehicles”.
Campaigners are fighting the lie that another road crossing across the Thames will improve air pollution.
“A new tunnel won’t ease congestion—all the viability assessments show that more roads lead to more cars,” said Sarah. “It’s estimated to cost over £1 billion, and the carbon emissions from just constructing the structure—mostly out of concrete—will be huge.”
In Bristol numbers swelled throughout Monday evening with over 1,000 people taking part all over the city. Mass people’s assemblies took place as well as discussion groups debating aspects of climate change.
There were demonstrations throughout the city, causing huge disruption in city centre traffic.
In Glasgow, XR’s purple boat was named after Amal Gous, a Sudanese tea seller murdered during the sit-in in Khartoum. Activists were set to hold workshops and assemblies on the theme of climate refugees.
Hussein in Cardiff told Socialist Worker, “We held a ‘People’s Assembly’ on how we can bring more people into the occupation and grow XR locally.
“People have come from all over Wales to camp out and be part of the action. There’s a lot of optimism here, quite a lot of excitement and people are really enjoying the boat!”
In Leeds, a yellow boat bearing the slogan “planet before profit” parked in the financial district, the most polluted part of the city. Gay told Socialist Worker that the Leeds action felt like “a fantastic anti-capitalist display.
“If you want to cherish the planet, you’ve got to give up exploiting resources, rare metals for mobile phones, oil and gas for energy.”
Activists spent the day debating the next steps. XR activists planned to march to join the school climate strikers who were set for another walkout this Friday.
Public sector worker Fay is hoping to strike on 20 September because she wants to do “anything that increases the momentum”.
“Impotence is the hardest thing—but doing something helps, it makes you feel better.”
RMT transport union member Arthur took a union flag on the London demonstration.
“Unions need to get more involved—workers should get involved because they have power,” he said.
“Imagine if the tube workers went on strike for the climate. The power in these people is great, but we need to do it together.”
Frack fight is on in Lancashire
Anti-fracking activists in Lancashire have vowed to continue their fight as drilling company Cuadrilla looks as if it is attempting to resume fracking in the region.
The Frack Free Lancashire campaigning group reports that 26 lorries carrying equipment entered the Preston New Road (PNR) site near Blackpool at 2am on Tuesday morning.
Activists have been fighting fossil fuel extraction at the site since fracking bosses were given preliminary approval in October 2016.
Cuadrilla attempted a large scale operation in autumn last year but earthquakes caused by fracking forced it to abandon PNR.
The arrival of new fracking equipment followed a day of heavy handed policing. Cops arrested four people and gave them bail conditions preventing them from joining future protests.
nExtinction Rebellion campaigners marched through east London on Friday of last week.
They demanded urgent action on the climate crisis and on high levels of air pollution in the area—with particular focus on how toxic air affects children.
Carrie had come to the demonstration with her baby son. “Tower Hamlets air pollution is particularly bad,” she told Socialist Worker. “Kids here are born with poorer lungs—what his lungs are like we don’t know yet.”
Climate rebels on trial for fighting for future
Dozens of Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists appeared in court last week as a result of XR’s “International Rebellion” in central London in April.
Thousands of people occupied the streets of central London in April—and more than 1,000 were arrested.
The activists were all charged with a public order offence.
Matt from Putney, south London, joined Monday’s demonstration holding a banner that said, “Prosecute polluters not protesters”.
“A lot of people agree with us. The wrong people are on trial,” he said.“I want to see the CEOs of polluting companies in the dock. In the short term, XR isn’t enough to achieve that. But if this reaches critical mass then who knows?
“I think arrests send a message to see the police dragging people off the streets—people find it inspiring, I know I did.”