Extinction Rebellion Statement on the announcement of the Government’s Integrated Policy Review
For the past 16 months we have been crying out for the Government to recalibrate the country’s goals, overarching vision and tactics, to redefine our role and place in the world, in light of the Climate and Ecological Emergency which threatens our very existence.
Now it undertakes the largest integrated policy review in decades, ‘considering the totality of global opportunities and challenges the UK faces and determining how the whole of government can be structured, equipped and mobilised to meet them’. Finally, something genuinely approaching the scale of the re-evaluation of where we are headed and what we should do about it needed – and there is a brief lip-service mention of climate change towards the bottom of the page, while the thrust of the piece is the sort of outdated, paranoid, self-interested neocolonialist brinkmanship which got us to the edge of the precipice in the first place.
Some of the language used, about being a ‘problem-solving and burden-sharing nation’ in order to ‘address threats and challenges’ and ‘identifying the necessary reforms to government, systems, and structures’ in order to do so are spot on, if only there is a recognition that the great threat we face is the collapse of our planetary life support systems and that our best hope for an innovative solution is through an enhanced democracy, by way of mechanisms like the National Citizens Assembly called for in Extinction Rebellion’s Third Demand, rather than the increasingly top-down, centralised control preferred by some others.
A planet that is increasingly warming poses the gravest threat to global stability. Scientists say that for every half a degree of warming we will see between a 10 and 20 percent increase in the likelihood of armed conflict. It has been suggested that 2 degrees of warming will lead to 40 or even 80% more war, with previous war zones in Syria hugely aggravated by droughts. The UN predicts that there will be 200 million climate refugees by 2050 leading to the ‘political and social instability that migration often produces’. This march towards militarisation and violence is not necessary. The most effective thing the Government can do to defend Global and British interest is to ensure the planet stays below 2 degrees of global warming.
It is time for the Government to take seriously it’s own pronouncements, and those of Parliament and the UN, about the seriousness of the situation we are in and the existential threat we all face, before it really finally is too late. This review has the potential to be the turning point. But it needs its parameters radically redrawing.
The key aim and remit of the review, in redefining our place in the world, should be to show how we can best act in solidarity and cooperation with other countries to ameliorate and survive the coming climate and ecological storm. Not how we can seek to profit at the expense of others, ‘promote UK interests’ and ‘strengthen Britain’s place in the world’. Lauding how many nukes we have over Angola will not get us very far when our food runs out and our reservoirs run dry.
To this end, the review should be led by the Departments for the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs; Business Energy and Industrial Strategy; and Health and Social Care, rather than the Ministry of Defence and Foreign Office, with key advisory roles for the Committee on Climate Change and other renowned climate scientists, along with the Emergency Services, who will have to deal with the consequences if the Government doesn’t Act Now to protect us. Our security, defence and foreign policies should all be geared towards how best to address the Emergency. This is not an opportunity to pursue British interests but our last chance to ensure the survival of our species.
Notes to editors
 David Wallace Wells, 2019, The Uninhabitable Earth, pp. 125-130
About Extinction Rebellion
Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and abrupt, runaway climate change. Societal collapse and mass death are seen as inevitable by scientists and other credible voices, with human extinction also a possibility, if rapid action is not taken.
Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.
Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:
- Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
- Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
- Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.
- In the UK, come to one of our events, join the Rebellion Network and let us know how you can help out.
- Start a group where you are: in the UK or around the world.
- Find your local group.
- Check out the International XR website, with links to the French, German, Italian and UK websites.
- And while your time and energy are of most importance, if you are financially able to donate money, see our crowdfunder.
About Rising Up!
Extinction Rebellion emerged from the Rising Up! network, which promotes a fundamental change of our political and economic system to one which maximises well-being and minimises harm. Change needs to be nurtured in a culture of reverence, gratitude and inclusion while the tools of civil disobedience and direct action are used to express our collective power.
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