Extinction Rebellion (XR) disrupted the Lord Mayor’s show in the City of London on Saturday. The Rise and Rebel action came as the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow ended with a total failure to confront systemic environmental collapse.
Up to 1,000 rebels targeted the annual spectacle that sees the police and the armed forces parade in their best imperial splendour.
Riding a float entered into the show under the company name of the London Physical Society, XR activists demanded the City of London takes responsibility for its part in the climate and nature emergency by ending all fossil fuel investments immediately.
The float, disguised as an organisation dedicated to promoting the use of sustainable building materials, revealed itself at Bank Junction. It displayed a giant drowning head and two outstretched arms reaching towards a large globe.
On the sides of the float hung large banners saying “Cop has failed” and ‘Stop fossil fuel funding”.
People dressed up with giant heads depicting chancellor Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson addressed the crowds and began smashing the globe, with others locking themselves together to block the road in front of the Lord Mayor’s stands.
Earlier, Gail Bradbrock, one of XR’s founders, told the rebels who assembled in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, “The London Mayor’s pageant is a show that there is no end to imperialism or colonialism and the City of London is an example of it too.
“The City is a network to extract wealth, especially from poorer countries, and this is costing the planet.
“Around 15 percent of fossil fuel funding comes directly from the City of London,” Bradbrock added.
Rebel’s marched to the parade calling for system change and chanting, What do we want, climate justice, when do we want it, now”.
At one point Rebels were able to block the road and delay the parade.
XR activist Jane told Socialist Worker that the march might be annoying to some, but disruptive tactics are essential.
“Everyone needs to start thinking about what their children’s future will look like. Unfortunately, it’s becoming more and more likely that the planet will become unlivable for them.
“Marches like this can wake people up and say we need to act together now.”
Protester Arbutus said she attended the demonstration because she was angry about the inaction of world leaders at Cop26.
“I didn’t expect much from the government or corporations at Cop26, but that doesn’t mean I’m not angry.
“I think it would easy to lose hope after seeing that world leaders can’t come up with solutions to the crisis. But going on marches and protests show me that change will come from the streets, not from conferences.”
Charlie, who also attended the march, agreed and said, “People are already being displaced from their homes, and we are surpassing climate tipping points.
“It will be a challenge to change the system, but we can’t give up.”
XR activist Sarah told Socialist Worker that she was angry that richer countries are breaking their promises to give poorer countries money so they can act against climate change.
“World leaders promised around £100 billion to poorer nations in 2015,” she said.“But the US has given over £1 trillion to fossil fuel companies in the last year. So £100 billion between rich nations was pathetic.”
As XR activists took on the City of London, the Cop26 conference entered last-minute talks. Several governments opposed any mention of fossil fuels at all in the final declarations.
Even delegates who got a seat at the table at Cop26 showed that they were tired of greenwashing.
Hundreds of representatives from climate NGOs and indigenous groups walked out of the conference on Friday carrying red ribbons.
Indigenous activist Ta’Kaiya Blaney was one of those who walked out. She said, “Cop26 is a performance. It is an illusion constructed to save the capitalist economy rooted in resource extraction and colonialism.
“I didn’t come here to fix the agenda—I came here to disrupt it.”
XR also held a funeral procession for Cop26 in Glasgow on Saturday.
Rebel Karen said, “We are here grieving for a planet that has been sacrificed by the failure of Cop26.”
XR said, “The summit failed to deliver the necessary action to keep temperatures below 1.5 degrees, with pledges from nations still taking the world to 2.4 degrees of warming. These pledges involve technological fixes that have not yet been invented.
“World leaders are making an active choice to take us over the cliff edge.”
It’s right to be angry at Cop’s failure, Every activist has to discuss how to build the power to break the system of capitalism that offers only destruction.