A week on from the Rebellion and there’s been time to reflect on all that we’ve achieved and begin asking what next?
So much has happened since actions demanding an immediate end to all new fossil fuel projects kicked off on April 1st. Extinction Rebellion and supporters of the Just Stop Oil coalition blockaded oil facilities around the UK, thousands sat down in the streets of central London in a mass demonstration of people power, doctors and nurses targeted HM Treasury for its complicity in the climate crisis and scientists were arrested for refusing to continue to comply with a government which is leading us off a cliff.
By causing nonviolent economic disruption at oil facilities while holding loving, peaceful and defiant resistance in central London, we became easy to join and impossible to ignore, and as we did backlash from critical voices grew even louder. When those determined to delay climate action come out to condemn us, we know we’re doing something right!
Outreach efforts during the Rebellion were a huge success, and by giving people different pathways into action we saw large numbers of new people joining us on the streets, getting trained, and preparing to continue standing in the way of climate destruction. All of these actions played a role in creating a far reaching impact and everyone’s contribution has been vital and necessary, whether you were locked to an oil tanker, sat in a road, knocking on doors or supporting people at police stations.
A huge thank you to everyone who stepped up!
You can watch all the rebellion livestream videos on our YouTube channel.
JUST SIT DOWN
Thousands marched through the West End over several days in London, bringing traffic to a halt with mass sit-downs at key junctions, including Oxford Circus and Trafalgar Square.
Four of London’s busiest bridges were blocked on Friday 16th, the 3rd year anniversary of the April Rebellion in 2019 that catapulted XR into the mainstream – Waterloo, Blackfriars, Lambeth and Westminster bridges were all blocked for over 2 hours.
LLOYD’S OF LONDON
On Tuesday 12th, we shut down Lloyds of London to demand that the insurance giant stop underwriting new fossil fuel projects, including the Trans Mountain Pipeline extension in Canada. At 7am, more than 60 activists used superglue, chains and bike locks, to block over twenty-five entrances to Lloyd’s building on Lyme Street, preventing staff from entering.
Climbers also scaled the outside of the iconic building and dropped two banners that read: ‘End Fossil Fuels Now’ and ‘Insure Climate Justice’. Following our action, and after years of Indigenous-led resistance in Canada, Lloyd’s of London syndicate Aspen Insurance has pledged to cut ties with the existing Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline.
JUMP SHIP – XR INFILTRATES SHELL HQ
On Wednesday 13th, we infiltrated oil giant Shell’s HQ in Waterloo. Nine people, having gained access to the building, glued on inside the two main reception areas, while others glued onto the ground outside. One got as far as the offices on the eighth floor where he attempted to engage with staff.
As part of XR’s TruthTeller project to proactively foster corporate mutiny, protesters outside the building held up placards bearing the first names of 100 individual employees working inside and the invitation “Join Us”. A role call of over 200 names was read over the loud speaker.
SCIENTISTS IN REBELLION
Also on Wednesday, Scientists for XR glued themselves to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to highlight the clear scientific evidence that the UK Government is ignoring. They also pasted scientific papers on the facade of the building and glued themselves across the entrance.
One of the scientists arrested, ecologist Emma Smart, whose picture appeared on the front page of the Guardian, went on nil by mouth hunger strike, in protest at police refusal to grant her bail. Supporters staged a vigil outside Charing Cross police station where she was being held.
WRITERS REBEL AT TATE MODERN
The official poet of the 2012 London Olympics, Lemn Sissay, and fifteen other award-winning writers, poets and performers led a live street literature event to call on major oil companies to end fossil fuel production worldwide as the only credible response to climate collapse.
WE ARE UNSTOPPABLE, ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE
On the final day of the Rebellion, three people, including Olympian Etienne Stott climbed on top of a Shell oil tanker in West London. They held a banner that read “END FOSSIL FILTH” and “LOVE IN ACTION”. Etienne said: “I am acting to try to disrupt the toxic fossil fuel industry that is destroying everything we hold dear. I am hoping we can slow it down long enough to create a moment where everyone can stop and think where we are going and change course.”
Catch Etienne on Rebel Radio talking about his motivations around being involved with direct action.
The Rebellion closed with an occupation of Marble Arch, with two climbers scaling the arch and hanging an enormous banner that read END FOSSIL FUELS NOW.
UNIFY TO SURVIVE
Following the Rebellion, XR’s affinity group of BIPOC people, XR Unify, held a Carnival for Climate Justice in Shepherds Bush. The event was a celebration of diversity, building towards a movement of movements by bringing together multiple groups from the local area. The family-friendly event featured a march, live music, dancing, food stalls and arts activities.
CIVIL RESISTANCE ON THE RISE
Nonviolent civil resistance is inevitably, even intentionally, controversial and often unpopular. But the Rebellion showed us that as the gravity of the climate crisis becomes more apparent, support for our actions is growing.
Below we look at a few articles which voiced support while we were on the streets…
“The fastest way to get Extinction Rebellion to stop is to listen to them”
Environment Correspondent at the Independent Harry Cockburn encouraged readers angered by XR’s disruption to redirect their frustration towards the government. Writing as the Rebellion was playing out on the streets he noted that XR’s demand to put an immediate end to all new fossil fuel projects was not only reasonable but also in line with the UK’s existing net-zero goals.
Read Harry’s article in full here.
“I will stick my neck out: the protesters are in the right. The media and political establishment which condemns them is living in a fantasy land.”
Writing in the Tablet, theologist Carmody Grey explores the pervasiveness of denial in British society and tracks her own journey to coming out in support of Just Stop Oil. She notes that civil resistance is “indeed a politics of desperation” but concludes that in the face of the “insanity” of denial, nonviolent action is the only rational response left to those who refuse to turn a blind eye to the crisis.
Read Carmody’s piece in full here.
“These protestors may not be the heroes we all want, but they are the heroes we all need.”
Writing for iNews, James Dyke, pushed back at the idea that society at large will generally like, or even be comfortable with, the people driving action on the climate crisis. Arguing for the necessity of nonviolent civil disobedience, he asked: “Has any social progress from the abolition of slavery, votes for women, to the decriminalisation of homosexuality ever been achieved by asking politely?
Read James’ piece in full here.
What kind of courage is needed as the world enters an era of climate breakdown? Where do we find the resolve to continue taking action when we see governments and corporations pursuing policies that will worsen the impacts of the climate crisis?
The truth is we need each other. We might have gone back to our lives but that doesn’t mean the Rebellion is over. Far from it. After all, fossil investments continue. And therefore, so does our Rebellion.
So, now is no time to hibernate, it’s time to step up and find your place in the movement. Over the coming weeks we will be sending out a series of emails on different ways you can get involved with Extinction Rebellion.
Love and Rebellion,
Extinction Rebellion UK
Source: April Rebellion Highlights