Socialist Worker

Take to the streets to demand action on climate catastrophe

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2691

Part of the grief march in London last October

Part of the "grief march" in London last October (Pic: Arkadiusz Kasperczyk)


The climate delayers and deniers in government reaffirmed their commitment to ignoring ecological breakdown this week.

Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists protested outside the chaotic Cop 26 launch event at London’s Science Museum on Tuesday.

At the event, prime minister Boris Johnson failed to announce any measures for tackling the climate emergency or who would be filling the talk’s key presidency role.

Hester from XR said, “I am fast realising that Cop 26 is being designed to fail, just as it has done for 25 years.

“This was all predicted and the financial and banking world hid this knowledge because it was at odds with their economic model of infinite growth.

“We are being let down over and over and over again. This system is broken, and there is a new kind of system out there,” she said.

Rebels are busy organising a demonstration through the streets of London on Saturday 22 February.

XR said it is “one part of a much greater movement and we are stronger together”. It called on people to take to the streets against police clampdowns, activists labelled as extremists, government failure and devastating climate catastrophe.

It has the potential to be massive, with a real radical edge.

Last October’s “grief march” brought central London to a standstill as at least 30,000 rebels wound their way from Hyde Park to Russell Square.

And the protest—organised at short notice with little publicity—far outstripped the numbers on the streets during the rest of the fortnight of action.

It’s a hugely welcome development that XR is looking for ways to show its collective strength.

Disruption

The smaller scale direct action stunts play an important role in training activists, bringing disruption and building awareness about the climate emergency.

But large scale protests are vitally important in building the kind of mass movement that will be needed to take on the climate delayers and deniers at the top of society.

It should be a roar of rage against the British government that can’t even put together a team to represent itself at the critical Cop 26 talks—let alone move towards progressive climate policy.

Actions of ordinary people have an impact—it was only after the hugely successful April rebellion that parliament declared a climate emergency.

“When parliament declared a climate and environment emergency, the very same day the government agreed to the Heathrow airport expansion,” said rebel Sam.

“The only thing that will halt this emergency is every person coming together and demanding systemic change. Together we are strong.”

But we have to push them further—and that means more people taking to the streets.

XRs’ method of organising civil disobedience has convinced huge numbers of ordinary people into being “rebels for life”.

And it’s not the only opportunity to get involved—the next student strike on Friday 14 February is a key date for all those in college and workplaces looking to organise action over the planet.

This year has to be one filled with strikes, protests and occupations demanding climate justice. And this month’s climate strike and XR mobilisation is the best place to start.

Join the XR demo, Sat 22 February, 1pm in Central London 

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