Over 10,000 people flooded Oxford Street in central London on Saturday, marking the first day of a climate rebellion. Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists from around Britain are taking part in ten days of protests and direct action.
Climate activist Sim from east London came to “channel my anger and despair at the current world”. “The more I learn, the more it becomes necessary to just do something,” he told Socialist Worker. “I feel less alone today, it’s great to see all these different communities out.”
Sim described the situation as “desperate” adding, “”We have until 2025 to stop burning fossil fuels—how are we going to do it? The politicians need to listen to us but ultimately we need to overthrow their system.”
XR activists gathered at Speakers Corner, Hyde Park. Some placards read, “End fossil fuels,” “Keep oil in the ground,” and “System change not climate change.” They staged a mass sit-in protest in the West End, blocking Oxford Street and Regent Street.
Addressing the mobilisation, XR speaker Robin said, “You’ve seen the IPCC report, we’re fucked. We’ve got three years to stop irreversible climate change that hits people who look like me the most, in the Global South.” She added, “Fighting climate change is one of the most anti-racist things you can do.”
The crowd then got into smaller groups to receive non-violent direct action training, and to discuss ideas and tactics. Erin from south of London was among those people. “We have very little time to stop climate change getting worse,” she told Socialist Worker. “People are already suffering and our politicians and fossil fuel companies continue.”
She called for more people to join the rebellion as the “effects of climate change are murderous”. Samson agreed, saying, “This movement has to be working class. It’s left in our hands to take action to make the change that is necessary.”
XR said the action on Saturday marked a shift from civil disobedience to civil resistance—that means more militancy to show the power of the movement.
The day before supporters of Just Stop Oil disrupted oil supplies from the Inter and Navigator terminals in Essex. It was the eighth day of action in support of their demand that the government end new oil and gas projects in Britain. So far police have arrested over 400 people.
Louis McKechnie, a mechanical engineering student from Weymouth said, “The government’s new energy security strategy is criminally incompetent. It will not lower our bills or save us from climate collapse. They could not have done a worse job.”
Many people are angry at the failed Cop26 climate conference and the Tories’ inaction. The government announced a new energy strategy that massively boosts nuclear power and does nothing around home insulation.
Resistance to fossil fuels and the profit-system that’s driving climate change is vital. Everyone should support the XR rebellion—and build a mass movement that can avert climate catastrophe.
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