For those of you who spend your days residing under rocks, here is everything you need to know about Extinction Rebellion.
Extinction rebellion, founded in October 2018, describes itself as “an international apolitical network using non-violent direct action to persuade governments to act on the Climate and Ecological Emergency.” Originating in Bristol, XR has become an international movement and household name in under 12 months.The movement criticises democratic representatives for being lobbied by corporations and overly-calculated regarding their own personal media image. The rebels point out that “the five-year electoral cycle in the representative system of democracy discourages governments attending to long-term issues like climate change” and that opinion polls are ineffective for such a complex issue. Extinction Rebellion aims to transcend egotistical politicians, Brexit obsession, and tactical false promises in order to take urgent and crucial environmental action before it’s too late.Extinction Rebellion’s demands and how the government has responded so far:
Tell the truth
“Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.”
After many public protests, sit-ins and marches, the UK was the first Parliament to declare a climate emergency on the 1st May of this year. Clare Farrell, one of the co-founders of XR followed this up, saying: “now they’ve got to show us the money, now it’s about what they do.”This declaration is, of course, mostly symbolic and puts no legal constraints on the government. However, now that our politicians have started to tell the truth about how bad the situation is, the pressure is on to act fast. UK Climate emergency declarations:Map found at https://www.theclimatemobilization.org/world-mapExtinction Rebellion has certainly succeeded in its first demand, as governments and organisations across the world raced in a quick flurry to declare a climate emergency.Global Climate emergency declarations: Map found at https://www.theclimatemobilization.org/world-map2.Act now
“Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.”
Upon becoming Britain’s new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has promised “We will be the home of electric vehicles – cars, even planes, powered by British-made battery technology being developed right here, right now”. He also repeated the promise already made under Theresa May that “Our United Kingdom of 2050 will no longer make any contribution whatsoever to the destruction of our precious planet brought about by carbon emissions – because we will have led the world in delivering that net zero target.”
Lorna Greenwood, a spokesperson for the group stated: “The reality is that 2050 still damns us to a bleak future. We’re a long way away from being in a situation where the issue of climate change and the ecological emergency is being dealt with”.
Reaching “near zero emissions by 2050” is undeniably a compromise, but the rebels do not intend to settle.3.Beyond politics
“Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.”
After the April rebellion began, in a sample of 1,500 British members of the public, the idea that a citizens’ assembly would do better than UK governments was supported by 61% and opposed by 19%.However, this final demand is still yet to be met. For many, Extinction Rebellion is a noble and necessary call to action, forcing climate and species biodiversity issues into the public eye through elaborate, attention grabbing media stunts. In the opinion of others, XR is a disruptive and pointless affair, causing delays in public transport and stirring up international despair instead of hope.Young adults show more support for Extinction RebellionAdults asked if they broadly support or oppose disruptive climate protestsSource: YouGov, 17 April 2019The language around climate change has altered drastically as a result of environmental activism both within Extinction Rebellion and through other means such as the school protests – sparked by Greta Thunberg. Words like “breakdown”, “crisis”, “emergency” and “extinction” are now central to everyday environmental conversation and pop culture is becoming aware faster than the politicians. With indie-pop band The 1975 releasing a song featuring Greta Thunberg speaking on environmental action, BBC’s David Attenborough Documentary and Mark Carney telling bankers they can no longer ignore the threat, a civil assembly feels inevitable.Perhaps the biggest effect of Extinction Rebellion is a renewed sense of power to the people. People of every age, race, sexuality, religion, culture and creed are standing up for their environment. Now it is up to the politicians to stand up with the people.
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