Extinction Rebellion is an international movement that uses non-violent disobedience to achieve radical change in environmental politics.
London has been brought to a standstill. Since the 15th of April, protestors have occupied busy areas of the UK capital to raise awareness on how little time is left to tackle climate change. Parliament Square, Marble Arch, Oxford Circus, Waterloo Bridge and Piccadilly Circus has been shut down due to protests.
Extinction Rebellion is a socio-political movement that was established in May 2018. Using non-violent disobedience, the group’s strategy of disrupting day-to-day life is so action can bring attention. The movement’s purpose is to mitigate or prevent climate change, improve nature conservation and increase environmental protection.
The group has emulated other civil rights movements in history. From British women’s suffrage demanding a right to vote to Martin Luther King trying to gain racial equality. All groups have demonstrated and campaigned through non-violence and peaceful disobedience.
In more recent history, the protests by Extinction Rebellion really reflect Occupy London. The Occupy Movement is/was an international, progressive, socio-political movement that tried to advance forms of economic and social justice against the “the lack of real democracy”.
Each of these movements consisted of unheard voices who wanted to make a radical change. And most of the population can’t imagine reverting back to a time where women or a minority race don’t have decent civil rights. In this case, Extinction Rebellion wants the idea of climate change, biodiversity loss, animal/human extinction and ecological collapse to become abnormal.
Coinciding with Extinction Rebellion’s London protests, Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist who inspired Fridays For Future school protests, made several speeches in the UK. After condemning the UK’s expansion of fracking and airports, she posed the question “Can you hear me?”, which received a loud “yes”, and followed it up with “Is my English okay? Because I’m beginning to wonder”.
Since the financial crisis in 2007, policies of austerity has taken centre stage both nationally and globally. Movements like Extinction Rebellion has stemmed from frustration. And these types of politics has hindered ideas like the Green New Deal. The radical plan was thought of in a London pub by Larry Elliot — to help address the financial crisis and climate change. It hasn’t seen much progress until the youngest US congresswoman in history, the Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has now made it her own and the idea has been gaining traction ever since.
Image credit: Sky News
Extinction Rebellion’s three demands in the UK are:
- Tell The Truth
- For the government to tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
- Beyond Politics
- The government must create a citizens’ assembly to help make climate and ecological decisions.
- Act Now
- Halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
The first two demands are far more realistic than achieving a net zero economy in the next six years. They often cite the IPCC report that says we have 12 years to stop climate change.
And citizens’ assemblies have had success globally too. Ireland has used citizens’ assemblies to successfully break the deadlock on two controversial issues: legalising same-sex marriage and the repeal of the Eighth Amendment on abortion. It has been suggested this could find a majority for how to solve Brexit too.
Most experts believe for the UK economy to be carbon-neutral by 2025 has an extremely low chance. The Climate Change Committee (CCC) is currently saying we need to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050. This would truly require radical change; a change in our diets, our transportation and our energy.
Extinction Rebellion may think the CCC’s target is extreme and vice versa but, by creating another end of the spectrum, it provides a middle ground. So, their target of 2025 may not be met, but by raising awareness, they may bring when we do hit it closer.
However, the group has drawn criticism. The protests have cost business millions of pounds and have disrupted people’s day-to-day lives. Also, they have strategised by pre-organising “arrestables”. There have been over 1,000 arrests made but more than 2,000 protestors stated they don’t mind being arrested in advance. This takes up police time and removes officers from the street. And if these protestors weren’t predominantly white, they may have faced prejudice from a possible institutional and systematic racism.
A renowned climate lawyer, Farhana Yamin, superglued herself to the pavement in front of the Shell headquarters (one of the main targets). She actually helped negotiate the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015.
In front of her partner and son, she emotionally addressed crowds, media and police. At one point she said “Making new laws is really important. But breaking the law has become more important”.
The London protests should be completely over by the end of April. Leaders of Extinction Rebellion has met with leaders of some UK political parties and proved that action does gain attention.
Image credit: Financial Times
What you can do
Ultimately, the people that are a part of Extinction Rebellion believe they can make a difference. It has been proven before when other civil rights movements have taken action too. You can read more about the environment and how solar PV can help tackle climate change on our website.
As well as becoming more self-sufficient, you can change your diet or the way you travel. It doesn’t have to be a complete change; you could quit just beef or maybe participate in meat-free Mondays. Maybe, you could try walking or cycling to work rather than driving.
Politically, you can write to your MP. You could express support for Extinction Rebellion or just say that you do believe climate change deserves more attention. Your MP is there to represent you.
We are always happy to chat about anything green-related. We provide unbiased information in a transparent way on renewables. And we appreciate that saving the world shouldn’t break the bank. We can help determine with you if solar PV and/or battery storage is a viable option at your home, business, project, etc.