UK Newsletter 14: No Going Back

UK Newsletter 14: No Going Back

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Dear rebels,

Six weeks into this pandemic and many of us are feeling the strain. This crisis lays bare the vast vulnerability and grave injustices in our system.  

Some of us may also feel unsettled in our path as rebels. There is a sense of frustration at a prolonged absence from the streets and confusion about where to go next. 

But if there is one thing that this crisis has made clear, it is that there is no going back. No going back to business as usual that pushes us further and further into the abyss of a climate and ecological loss. 

We must envision the reality we want to build. One where airlines and oil companies aren’t bailed out. One where we strive to put the needs of our people and planet at the heart of an emergency response. 

It may be a time of isolation and lockdown, but now more than ever, the future is up for grabs. 

Join our No Going Back action on Thursday to keep the biggest polluters closed for good. Read how banks have propped up the fossil fuel industry with £2 trillion since the Paris Agreement, as exposed by the Funding Climate Chaos report, and switch your money to a bank that doesn’t fund the climate breakdown.

And we celebrate a win as Oxford University announces it will divest from fossil fuels and commits to a net zero investment strategy, following protests by rebels in Oxford and allied campaign groups. 

In these testing times to rebel we find inspiration in other movements. This issue’s History Corner looks at how murder in Mexico birthed online civil disobedience, and see here for the story of how protestors in Russia are occupying public squares and government buildings virtually. 

As always, we also share a string of announcements and up-and-coming actions to get involved in. 

Spotted our newly designed header? This stunner is a creation by Jane Mutiny, depicting the dangers of species loss in this ecological crisis, with animals already extinct in the centre and other endangered species to the left, but it also offers a spark of hope, as species on the right were thought to be extinct but are now coming back. 

Want to see your art featured in this newsletter? Share your art, high resolution landscape images of roughly 2:1 proportion, with us at xr-uknewsletter@protonmail.com

Contents

  • Stories of the Week
  • Upcoming
  • Announcements
  • News
  • History Corner
  • Pandemic Picks

Stories of the Week


Funding Climate Chaos

A newly published report, Funding Climate Chaos by 350.org, Platform London, People & Planet and The Sunrise Project, gives a damning assessment of how banks are fuelling the ecological crisis. 

Globally, 35 banks are financing the fossil fuel industry by £2 trillion. Among UK-based banks, Barclays and HSBC have given £158 billion to fossil fuel industries since the Paris Agreement, making them the worst offenders in Europe

The impacts will be felt most in the developing world. Despite projections that in ten years time more than 43,600 people could die a year from coal power pollution in Vietnam, HSBC continues to finance coal power plants there. 

The report is clear: global finance is backing carbon-intensive projects that would lead to a 4°C rise in global temperatures. With this comes the potential of collapsed food systems, mass migration, and a global health crisis. Without their funding, climate destroying projects simply wouldn’t be possible.

Our response to the Covid-19 crisis must be forward looking. We cannot allow banks to use the current emergency as a distraction, whilst investing in projects that bypass planned climate action.

And there can be no going back. The financial impact of the crisis has given us a stark reminder that basing an economy on fossil fuels makes us extremely vulnerable. As the cracks of our system are laid bare for all to see, it is time for bold change that puts people and the future of our planet at the heart of our recovery. 

Check if your bank funds fossil fuels and if they do, switch.


Oxford Uni Divests from Fossil Fuels 

20 Apr | Oxford

After a series of high-profile protests by the Oxford Climate Justice Group, Fossil Free and XR Oxford, the University of Oxford is divesting from all direct investments in fossil fuel companies and is committing to a net-zero investment strategy.  

The policy was passed by 5,500 academic and administrative members of the Congregation, the University’s governing body.

Almost all of Britain’s top universities have now pledged to divest, at least partially, from fossil fuels.   

But many constituent colleges still have investment policies that permit investment in fossil fuels. St John’s College, scene of a recent student occupation by rebels and their allies, still has £8.1 million invested in Shell and BP, the largest investment of any Oxford college.


Paint the Streets 

20-28 Apr| Oxfordshire, Shoreham-by-Sea, Reading, Staines, Plymouth, Farnham

Paint the Streets examples (top left to bottom right): Oxfordshire, Shoreham-by-Sea, Reading, Staines, Plymouth, Farnham, and Rebel Pebbles.

The campaign to patiently and joyously plant messages of hope and growth on and around our streets is underway across the country. On house walls, rubbish bins, utility boxes and pavements, creeping vines and rebel pebbles are spreading their tendrils and promise.

Why not join the party? Here are detailed guidelines and answers to all your questions, and you can follow and tag the #Rewild #PaintTheStreets campaigns on these newly launched Facebook and Instagram accounts.


Upcoming

No going back

30 Apr | The biggest polluters

Join our first No Going Back action this Thursday. Close down the biggest polluters, hang up posters over the doors of the most polluting businesses to make clear that they cannot reopen for business as usual, if we want to rebuild a better world.

Prepare by ordering posters and picking polluters in your area, share the action with friends and local groups, and be there on the 30th. A full Action Guide is available here.

For updates, join the Facebook event, telegram chat and watch this video.

Earth Day Switch 

22 Apr – 10 May | Online

Is your money funding fossil fuels? Go to Earth Day Switch to find out if your bank or energy provider is investing in fossil fuels and switch to a provider that isn’t funding the climate and ecological breakdown.

Launched on Earth day last week, and still switching every day.

Extinction Film Release

01 May | Online

This Friday, 1st of May, marks a special day in our Rebellion. On that day last year, the UK became the first country in the world to declare a climate and ecological emergency. The declaration came after 10 remarkable days of rebellion. 

To celebrate this historic moment, a short film made with Emma Thompson and Sam Knights will be launched on this channel on Friday.

Winds of Change

01 – 05 May | In the wind

We can all feel it, the wind is turning, change is on its way. Let‘s rise up on the winds of change. Let’s reclaim our future.

What changes do you want to see? Make a windsock, a beautiful wind spinner or share your thoughts on a flag. Release your views for a better future into the winds of change.

Find out more here.


Announcements

Update on the Next Rebellion from the Rebellion Weavers Team

In this unfolding crisis of today we are all aware that an even worse crisis looms on the horizon. 

It’s clear that we need to take some form of protest back to the streets as soon as it is safe to do so. However, given that it appears that the current lockdown will not just be ‘turned off’ overnight and will instead be eased gradually, XR faces a tough judgement call about when to act and how to do so whilst maintaining social distancing.

To help make decisions on what and when the next large scale in-person protest for XR UK should be, a sortition council has been called – made up of randomly selected people from across the movement (with adjustments made to ensure true demographic representation) – to democratically undertake the decision making on behalf of the wider movement. 

This group will be meeting on or shortly after the 11th of May. 

It will be informed by input & ideas from regional and national representatives from across the movement. Some regions are holding digital people’s assemblies to do this. Please contact your local group or regional coordinator to find out if one is happening in your area.

XR Volunteer Website is Live!

Even during this lockdown, there is so much to do in our movement. Want to get more involved, or haven’t quite found the right role yet? Have a browse of our newly launched XR UK Volunteer site, with roles that need filling.

Local Government Pension Funds must divest from Fossil Fuels

Local Government Pension Schemes are investing £16.1 billion in the fossil fuel sector. UNISON, the public sector union with over 1.4 million members, has been campaigning for pension schemes to divest from carbon-based industries.

XR wants to mobilise union members to support this movement through their grass root union branches.

We need members of UNISON and other unions to complete a questionnaire in order to put pressure on their local branches to actively divest. If you are part of a trade union please complete this short questionnaire.

Two large London Councils, Hackney and Southwark, have recently committed to divesting from Fossil Fuels. We need to make our voices heard to demand more action.

Pause for the Earth – Ramadan Talks

XR Muslims invites you to a programme of webinars to bring people together during Ramadan at an unprecedented time of isolation where staying connected is more important than ever. 

We aim to reflect together on the beauty of our natural world and highlight how important it is to address environmental destruction and create communities that can live harmoniously with all forms of life on earth. 

Sign up here.

WTF – We The Future

XR Youth UK is now more than a year old, much has changed since we started. With schools and universities shut and the world changing so fast, the time is now for XRY UK to get together, get connected and start thinking about what’s next?

We’d love to have trainings from different local/working groups during WTF. To join an existing session or suggest a new one go to our linktree.

Find out more here or contact xryouth@gmail.com.   

Climate Crisis Challenge

Photo: @helenasmithpix

Do you have a complaint about the way your local council is making decisions relating to the climate crisis? The legal team is on the lookout out for cases.

We want to build up a body of case law requiring local authorities to take climate change into account when making decisions. If we are successful in creating a precedent, it could revolutionise the way that local councils spend their money, and make them more mindful of the long-term health of the planet.

Establishing this principle will not be easy and we need your help. We need to identify decisions by local councils that are having a negative impact on the climate crisis.

To get you started, here are some ideas of decisions by local authorities that might be open to challenge: 

  • Investing pension funds in fossil fuels
  • The sale of council-owned land for housing or other developments
  • Using animal products in food provided by the council to schools or workers 
  • Using paper in council buildings, or communication by letter rather than email

If you have an idea, please send it in to xr-legalstrategy@riseup.net

Trust the People

Are you supporting your community during this pandemic? Want to help build empowered, resilient and regenerative communities? 

Join the Community Transformers Programme on Reset TV and sign up here. Now with webinars on how to reclaim community power, rebuild a real democracy, and People’s Assemblies to share experiences and ideas.

Can you make a Kite?

Do you know how to make Kites? Soft Kites, different shapes, sizes, colours? We are looking for a coordinator and a group of kite makers. If you have the skills and can commit then please get in touch at xrdesigngroup@gmail.com

Feedback and Learning Culture Circle is looking for rebels

In the Feedback and Learning Culture Circle, we work to improve our learning, reflecting on successes and failures, bringing principle 5  ‘we value reflection and learning’ to life. 

What you could get involved in: We are creating an Actions Council to help give feedback on controversial action plans, starting a set of feedback interviews for active rebels, and are creating an outcomes dashboard to help measure XR’s impact. 

What we need: All kinds of people really! We are also looking for rebels with a background in project management, theories of change, educational platforms, data analytics, life/business coaching, video editors, 2D/3D animators to help us disseminate our findings.

Think you could help? Contact feedbacklearnignxr@gmail.com 

XR Podcast takes on the Finance Sector

Economics is not a sideshow in our lives. This global pandemic has shown us that. But what comes next?

We talk to Vince Knowles and Rathbone Greenbank Investments about the investment industry, University of Bristol professors Alvin Birdi and Chris Preist about the insurance industry, and XR Money Rebellion about what you can do.

Listen now 🎧


News


History Corner: How Murder in Mexico Birthed Online Civil Disobedience

Las Abejas hold portraits of their relatives killed in the Acteal Massacre (photo by EFE)

On December 22nd, 1997, in a remote village in southernmost Mexico, members of two right-wing paramilitary groups burst into a church prayer meeting and shot dead 45 indigenous people, mostly women and children.

The Acteal massacre happened because the villagers were activists for Las Abejas (The Bees), a Christian pacifist group focused on land rights for indigenous farmers. Their movement was a local one, originating from overzealous policing of a family property dispute.

It became the target of death squads when Las Abejas stood in solidarity with the anti-neoliberal principles, but not the violent methods, of the Zapatistas.

Three years earlier, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation had declared war on the Mexican government for signing NAFTA, a major free trade agreement between Mexico, the USA and Canada. The Zapatistas realised that the deal would harm indigenous communities and launched an armed uprising on the day of its enactment, taking over the Mexican state of Chiapas.

To find out how the paramilitaries who carried out the massacre were linked to the Mexican and US governments, and how protestors in San Diego launched the first virtual sit-in at websites that belonged to both governments, continue reading this story on the XR website.


Pandemic Picks #3: ‘If A Tree Falls’

Documentary | USA | Dir. Marshall Curry

Documentary | USA | Dir. Marshall Curry

Despite being nominated for an Oscar back in 2011, this brilliant documentary about the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) is largely forgotten. 

The ELF was born of a group of frustrated activists, radicalised following police brutality and co-opted governance, who turned from peaceful protest to violence. They went on to commit targeted arsons across North West America, burning down businesses that they felt were profiting from ecocide. 

But as mistakes were made, and the violence threatened to spiral, the group disbanded, then betrayed one another, and ended up facing life sentences for terrorism in an America still rocked by 9/11.

If A Tree Falls focuses on one ELF member as prison looms and he weighs up a plea deal, but part of the film’s brilliance is its breadth, featuring interviews with ELF members, the friends and family who watched them radicalise and self-destruct, the police officers who traced them, and the business owners whose livelihoods went up in flames.

Anyone interested in changing our world through protest should heed the lessons contained in this startling, morally complex, and truly enlightening story.

If A Tree Falls is available to watch now on Youtube and dailymotion.


Thank you

Thank you so much for reading! Even as we self-isolate, 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 xr-newsletter@protonmail.com. 

We are in a crucial phase of human history, and our Rebellion needs money to make sure our message is heard. Anything you can give is appreciated. 


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