Since its inception, a central goal of our movement has been to bring thousands of people from all walks of life out onto the streets, day after day, to peacefully engage in civil disobedience.
This is how we wooed the world’s media, shifted public consciousness, and brought complacent government representatives to the table.
Now Covid has brought that tactic to a temporary, yet possibly lengthy, close. The streets of our capitals are no longer a safe place for mass protest, however noble the cause.
But us rebels are a restless and ingenious lot!
This issue we report on a new kind of mass disruption – the digital kind. Groups in both Denmark and Australia have launched digital disruption campaigns that have drawn in rebels from all over the world.
Using their laptops and phones, and specially coded software, hundreds of synchronised rebels have bombarded websites, swarmed social media, and email blitzed major polluters and their enablers.
But they are not the only actions that we should be excited about this month. Whether it be the mass symbolism of thousands of empty shoes in Trafalgar Square and The Hague, shaming a government owned oil company in Zagreb, or fake oil spraying the headquarters of a polluter supporting bank, rebels are still finding bold and brilliant ways to tell the truth while staying socially distant.
And on that note it is with some joy that we can announce the return of XR Unchained. There were so many beautiful actions this month that one newsletter just couldn’t contain them all!
It may be a time of isolation and lockdown, but now more than ever, the future is up for grabs. And it is wonderful to see this global movement grab that future with both hands.
If you’d like to see previous newsletter issues, you can find them here.
This Rebellion needs your support. If you can’t give time, consider giving money.
- Action Highlights
- XR Unchained
- Must Reads
- Humans of XR
Digital Disruption in Denmark
6-9 MAY | Online
Even when rebels can’t take to the streets, we can take to the web.
That’s the message from XR Denmark, who recently launched an online blockade of top CO2 emitters.
‘Online Blockade: Tell the Truth to Oil Companies’
Danish rebels designed a web browser add-on (see below) to overwhelm selected polluters with a barrage of web requests. Each request contained messages from a recent UN environmental report calling for urgent action.
The action was the digital equivalent of queueing up at McDonalds and ordering the non-existent vegan, zero-waste Happy Meal again and again.
Rebels targeted a different polluter each day, including fossil fuel companies Shell and BP, shipping company Maersk, and the Danish Finance Ministry for its recent bailout of Scandinavian Airlines.
The ‘Tell The Truth’ web browser add-on
Those involved in the disruption came from far outside Denmark, with rebels from the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Finland, Germany, Australia, the UK and Poland all getting in on the digital action.
The Digital Rebellion Down Under
10-20 MAY | Australia
While Australians were focused on saving lives from Covid-19, the Australian government was pushing forward with more fossil fuel activity. XR Australia has launched a digital rebellion to fight back during lockdown.
The digital rebellion focuses on four pillars: make mass mischief online, challenge the toxic system with just alternatives, target industries doing the world harm, and spread kindness and build community through mutual aid.
Last week 100 rebels ‘swarmed’ every social post made by Australia’s four major banks, pointing out how they fund climate destruction. This new type of action was a huge success and shows that digitally, a few rebels can be both highly creative and create a lot of havoc.
Today’s final action called on rebels to paint the streets with the truth about the climate crisis while adhering to social distancing rules.
On Monday rebels email and geo-blitzed an Environment minister and Peabody Energy for agreeing to a new coal mine under a major Sydney water reservoir.
Empty Shoes for Brainless Bailouts
17 APR – 18 MAY | The Hague & London
1000 pairs lined up in front of the Dutch parliament in The Hague. Photo: Catharina Gerritsen
With mass demonstrations banned during lockdown, rebels in The Hague and London found a creative alternative- occupying public squares with empty shoes. Each pair symbolised a rebel in protest – a protest about governmental short-sightedness during this pandemic.
Rebels from XR Netherlands filled the square outside the Dutch parliament with over 1000 pairs to protest the government’s planned bailout of polluters, that includes the airline KLM and Schipol Airport. They also called for a Citizen’s Assembly to decide on how to respond to the corona crisis and transition to a fairer and more sustainable future.
In London, rebels occupied Trafalgar Square with over 2000 pairs of children’s shoes. They called on the government to act on the climate crisis during the corona virus recovery so that children and young people aren’t left to suffer an even deeper crisis.
Trafalgar Square, London. Photo: Anthony Jarman
Dr Deepa Shah, a doctor in London said: “We’re living through one of those rare moments in history when everything can change. British people have shown throughout this crisis how deeply we value our health and well-being.
“There are now multiple paths before us; we could choose to go back to our destructive past, or we could choose a future that gives our children a chance. Coronavirus will end but climate change is here to stay. Governments must act now to secure our future.”
Shoes were donated by neighbours, parents and local teachers and will be donated to Shoe Aid.
The Hague. Photo: Catharina Gerritsen
Croatia’s Dirty Deal
22 APR | Zagreb, Croatia
Ban Jelačić Square. Photo: Matej Kožić
The second action targeted the Croatian oil company INA.
Six months after the European Commission launched its Green Deal policy, which will cut carbon emissions and fossil fuel consumption across the EU over the next three decades, the Croatian Government, which owns a 45% stake in INA, signed a sponsorship contract with the company for its six months’ Presidency of the EU.
While making claims of sustainability to greenwash itself, the INA has recently invested 4 billion kuna (over 5 billion euro) in its refineries in Rijeka and Sisak. Zagreb rebels are calling for politicians to break their cosy ties to fossil fuel companies and listen to the scientific community.
Rebels display a banner outside the INA headquarters: ‘Renewable Energy for Saving the Earth’. Photo: Matej Kožić
Oil Spray for Barclays
7 MAY | London, UK
Rebels unfurl their banner and cover the glass of Barclays London headquarters in fake oil
On Friday 7 May, a trio of rebels undertook a socially distanced and face mask protected protest outside Barclays headquarters in London, the morning of the bank’s Annual General Meeting.
Spraying the building with fake oil, the message was simple: Barclays must abide by its own recently stated goals for a carbon neutral future, and end its obscene funding of fossil fuel interests – £95 billion in the last three years, the highest of any bank in Europe.
Rebels also demanded that the bank works with global governments to help bring about the only realistic option for a post-Covid world: a green transition.
This means not just divesting from fossil fuels to curb global carbon emissions, but also immediate investment in zero carbon options. With oil prices at an all-time low and the industry reeling, now is the time.
Who would have thought that we’d have too many actions for one newsletter during lockdown? You amaze us, rebels. Keep it up! Please have a read of the full XR Unchained for more beautiful and courageous actions we couldn’t fit in this issue.
Clockwise from top left: Seebrucke, Dresden, Heidelberg.
In a continuing campaign, German and Austrian rebels have been taking over city parking spaces to replace cars with planters, many with built-in bicycle stands. Urban gardening, they say, ensures a better quality of life, strengthens social relationships and increases a city’s self-sufficiency.
In the German city of Saarbrucken members of XR and Animal Rebellion turned two of the city’s fountains a ‘poisonous green’ colour in order to ‘make the climate catastrophe visible’. The placard reads ‘Climate Politics is Poisoning Us!’
In the UK rebels in St Ives, Cornwall, have started a No Going Back Sundays movement. Wearing masks and observing social distancing, they display home-made placards in a prominent local setting every Sunday at 10am. The idea has quickly spread to other parts of the country, and beyond.
Rebels in Cambridge and across the UK also made their streets bike-friendly by adding new cycling lanes. Find an action guide here if you want to reclaim your street as well.
See the full XR unchained here.
Afrikan Liberation Awareness Month: Women’s Voices
8-25 MAY | 6-7.30pm BST | Online
This month is Afrikan Liberation Awareness Month – a global celebration of Pan-Afrikan knowledge and culture in defiance of a system that has tried to suppress and eradicate it.
XR Internationalist Solidarity Network, which bridges XR with grassroots resistance movements in the Global South, along with XR Youth UK and African Voices Forum, have teamed up to host an online mini-series of live Pan-Afrikan panel discussions.
The final talk, ‘Women’s Voices’, will address the struggles of women who have been displaced due to conflict and climate change in Afrika and the Global South. The female activists speaking at the event will be announced later this week.
Change is Now: Decide Together
30 MAY| Your Local Politician’s Office
As lockdowns across the world begin to ease, we stand at crossroads.
Prioritise health or prioritise profit. We have a choice. Bail out people and planet or bail out the industries that are killing us. We have a choice. Trust the people or trust governments with our future. We have a choice.
It’s time to trust the people and decide together how we respond to the corona crisis and prepare for further crises so this never happens again. As part of the coronavirus recovery, we demand a binding Citizens Assembly on how to rebuild our economy, our democracy and our future.
On Saturday 30 May, bring this message to your local politician’s office or local authority. Make sure to follow Covid-19 guidelines, come alone, wear a mask, and stand strictly 3 metres apart.
This action is organised by XR UK, but we hope rebels across the world will take part on the same day. Find out more here.
XR EU is Born
After plans for a European Rebellion in Brussels were put on hold by the Covid pandemic, the pan-European rebel organisers decided to found an ambitious new chapter – XR EU.
XR EU has been set up to coordinate national chapters and initiate actions that target the EU. The group wants to pressure the institution to put life before profit, and recognise the need for climate, ecological and social justice.
Wanted: Rebel Writers & Editors
We may be confined to our homes, but there are still countless stories to tell to inspire, educate and keep the Rebellion alive.
If you want to be part of a team that explores key issues relating to the climate and ecological emergency, now is your chance: the global website team is looking for writers for our blog!
We’re seeking volunteer writers and copy editors with a great eye. All roles can be done remotely and previous experience isn’t essential but a big plus!
If interested, please fill out this questionnaire.
Wanted: Social Media Volunteers
Global Support is XR’s international hub and Media & Messaging are the team who use all kinds of media to promote and connect rebel groups all over the world. The team is looking for volunteers to help create and coordinate social media content.
If you have experience working with social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube, with streaming content, working with influencers, or editing video, please get in touch.
XR Podcasts: ‘Why 2050 is Too Late’ and ‘Less is More’
Sharing our latest podcasts. In episode 11 we talk to Jason Hickel about society’s addiction to growth, on a planet with finite resources. Something needs to give.
In episode 10 the podcast team asked scientists about the UK government’s 2050 net zero emissions target. They explore why that timeline endangers not only humans, but every other species on the planet.
Global Newsletter Banner – Your Art Wanted!
Credit: Olivia Burnett
If you’d like to see your art emblazoning this newsletter then send your high resolution landscape images of roughly 2:1 to 3:1 proportion to email@example.com.
- Reset: The Solar-Powered Website Offering a Vision for an Eco-Friendly Internet.
- Carbon Brief: Coronavirus ‘set to cause largest ever annual fall in CO2 emissions’.
- Scientific American: ‘Why isn’t CO2 falling more during a global lockdown?’
- The Dark Mountain Project: An interview with Charles Eisenstein on the necessity of a ‘major disintegration’ in modern living so we can ‘enter into a more beautiful world’.
- The Conversation: ‘Stop blaming each other for the climate crisis – coronavirus shows what we can achieve together’.
Humans of XR
“I live in a town called Chaitén in the Patagonia area of Chile. The nature around the area is beautiful so you develop a connection with it. My parents educated me to value and connect with nature.
I’m also indigenous as a member of the Mapuche people. We are very committed to protecting the nature around us. I learned that you don’t love what you don’t understand so it is important for people to understand and experience nature.
We sometimes have long periods without water. We are very aware in our region that climate change affects the poorest people primarily, with the richest areas and the richest people being least affected….”
Read Joel’s story in full here.
We are receiving amazing human stories and we want to know yours. To read more – or to write your own – join our Facebook group.
Thank you for reading. Even in lockdown, there’s so much exciting stuff going on in the movement that we barely have time to write this sign-off. Keep up the good work! If you have any questions or queries, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are in a crucial phase of human history, and our Rebellion needs money to make our message heard. Anything you can give is appreciated.
Source: Global Newsletter #39