You may have heard that next week, Extinction Rebellion plans to shut down several major locations in London in an act of International Rebellion. Starting on Monday the 15th of April, they are going to cause disruption until the government responds.
I have battled continuously with doubts over the past 6 months over whether Extinction Rebellion’s approach is the right one. Are we doing nothing but impacting people’s days? Are we stopping innocent people from getting to work and doctor appointments? My mind has been swamped with doubt after conversations with people that have been affected by our actions and from comments that have swirled about in the media. I don’t want to impact others on an individual basis.
However, I'm feeling desperate with the lack of effort from governments globally in tackling climate action - action that is in line with the climate science that tells us time is fast running out on the clock.
Critique can be found in all movements, but no effort against ecological breakdown and climate change has seen the justice required. Why? Because there has been no real disruption.
This is a pivotal moment in history. The IPCC report has determined that to remain below a 1.5 degree Celsius rise in global temperature, we need to see "unprecedented changes in all aspects of society". This is the best case scenario we can hope for but already it seems highly unlikely as we are more on track for a 3 degree rise in temperature or more.
The science and the solutions are there and they have been for a long time. Now, it is time for us to demand the system change that is necessary to combat climate change. How better to do this than slow down the economic hub of the country – because that’s all the government really cares about, right?
Does all this sound extreme? Perhaps, but the science is frightening; we are on a path of unprecedented speed to climate and ecological breakdown. Yet we are living in a country that just a few weeks ago, in 2019, allowed the commissioning of a new coal mine?!
Beyond what is happening in the UK, I’m going because I'm angry at the environmental injustice already being felt by people all over the world and the lack of responsibility we in the Global North, the main causers of emissions and ecological breakdown, are taking for this.
The geographical disparity in protection against weather disasters is obscene – how can we take such little action knowing that the reckless levels of destruction and consumption we partake in are then being felt by others less responsible.
So, what else can I do with my fear of the path we are currently on apart from take action? Extinction Rebellion provide an outlet, a solution to work towards. Their 3 demands are simple but with their implementation will be powerful.
I joined the Sheffield group last year and I have only had a positive experience of Extinction Rebellion where I have found an inclusive space and witnessed a network of genuinely welcoming, passionate and supportive people grow. Most cities across the UK now have a local Extinction Rebellion group so it's easy to get involved… you will find people of all ages - with newcomers and long-time climate activists alike!
Getting involved with your local group will help you find people who have similar values to yours. It is a large movement that now has many individuals that have different ideas of the type of action they want to take (from arrestable action to supporting with organisation behind the scenes). You can get involved at your own pace - there’s a level of participation that can be found to suit everyone and no pressure should be felt as an individual to do something you are uncomfortable with.
The week of rebellion will see people both in the UK and globally take part in non-violent direct action, causing mass disruption in cities until their governments listen. It is action that anyone can get involved in, with family friendly zones, activist training hubs, talks, performances and more.
Will it get the government to listen? Will it get all members of parliament to attend debates on climate change? Will our government finally take accountability and enact legally binding policy?
I don’t know the answer, but I do know that this is a solid place to start.
Here is the guide Extinction Rebellion have put together for London: