Socialist Worker

XR rebels plan for a hot autumn of blockades and resistance

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2712

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Rebels are preparing to take to the streets (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Environmental campaign Extinction Rebellion (XR), has announced plans for the next major phase of direct action beginning on 1 September. 

The group is set to stage another “rebellion” and blockade of Westminster to demand that it debates the groups’ three demands when it reopens in the autumn.

XR demands that the government tell the truth about the scale of the climate crisis and that it acts now. 

Clare Farrell, XR co-founder said, “Our future should not be about individual survival or escape. We find ourselves with the guarantee of mass death and eventual extinction if we continue to go along with business as usual. 

“With this prognosis in mind, empathy, compassion and solidarity are a pragmatic necessity, and they are vital ingredients of our rebellion,’ she said. 

The London blockades will unfold simultaneously with actions in Cardiff, Scotland and the north of England. And rebels are also planning local direct action under the banner of “countdown to the rebellion” from 28 August. 

“We invite everyone who is sick of the lies, injustice, inaction to join us,” said XR.

XR activists want greenhouse gas emissions to net zero in Britain by 2025 and the government to set up citizen’s assemblies to oversee the process. 

The group is also calling on the government to act on parliament’s declaration in April 2019 of a “climate emergency”.

The rebellion is called under the slogan of “We want to live” and is centred on how the government is failing to take action on the climate catastrophe, despite its own admission that global warming of up to 4 degrees is possible.

Any such temperature rise would spell disaster for the planet. 

XR is also drawing parallels between the Tories’ deadly response to the coronavirus pandemic, and its dangerous lack of action in response to a rapidly heating environment. 

Rebels are preparing to rise up against the Tories’ coronavirus recovery plans which have seen huge bailouts going to environmentally destructive industries. 

Pandemic

Alex Armitage from Doctors for XR said, “The government’s inaction on coronavirus has led to the deaths of at least 44,000 people in the UK.

“We are now living through a new phase of the pandemic, but there is a far greater threat to our health—climate and ecological breakdown.

“The lockdown was an opportunity to confront the huge challenges of climate change but the government, addicted to the malignant ideology of unlimited economic growth, is now pushing us in the opposite direction,” he said. 

News of the rebellion comes as the group said it would change how it relates to the police on protests. 

XR has come under renewed pressure amid the Black Lives Matter movement for encouraging protesters to see the police as “allies” on protests. 

It released a statement last week admitting that its strategy of mass arrests and potential jail time didn’t recognise the “stressful, intimidating and sometimes deadly experience marginalised people face at the hands of the police”. 

And the group called for “a rebellion that challenges the systems on which the climate emergency thrives”.

It also said the rebellion should “prioritise anti-racism and solidarity with all people striving for equality and justice.” XR set out an action plan that included updated training for rebels, prioritising anti-racism action and an increased focus on the XR international networks.


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