This student supporter of Insulate Britain is currently in prison for his brave civil resistance.
In this issue: XR Serbia Win | XR Finland Victory | Blockade Australia | Insulate Britain
To start your year on the front foot, the first global newsletter of 2022 is focused on victories – both in our movement and in climate activism as a whole.
Some of these victories may be small, some of them may be partial, some of them may well unravel in the blink of a corrupt politician’s eye. But when you’re fighting the kind of gargantuan forces we are (corporations, governments, the very cogs of capitalism itself) every shard of success must be savoured.
This issue we report on how Serbian rebels helped put both their government and the multinational mining company Rio Tinto on the backfoot. Read about the massive street blockades against a new lithium mine in Action Highlights.
We also report on how the tenacious rebels of Elokapina (XR Finland) got their government to submit to one of their demands. After two rebellions and hundreds of arrests, the Environment Minister recently held her first climate crisis briefing to the press and public.
100,000 protesters turn up to swarm a central highway in Serbia. The blockade bore fruit.
Another victory we should all be inspired by is the state of climate activism itself. Over the last year an amazing number of new protest groups have hit the headlines, many testing out bold tactics and novel messaging to further our collective cause.
But as our movement expands, so does the potential for confusion. Where did these groups come from? Where are they heading? What is their relationship to XR?
In a Special Report we talk to the activists behind Blockade Australia, Insulate Britain, Last Generation: Citizens’ Assemblies Now, and Shell Must Fall. Although this newsletter only has room for a taster, you can read The Full Report over on the XR Global Website.
Finland’s Foreign Minister visits Elokapina’s camp outside Parliament to chat about the climate during the Autumn Rebellion. The steady, soft pressure on politicians bore fruit.
If that’s not enough triumph for you, we also celebrate activist victories in Switzerland, South Africa, Canada and the UK in this month’s Action Roundup. There really are a lot of wins being racked up if you’re in the right mindset to see them!
Emissions may be rising, but so is the loving rage of climate activists all around the globe. We hope this newsletter helps you see the sunny side of what 2022 might bring.
The Global Newsletter is brought to you by XR Global Support, a worldwide network of rebels who help new XR chapters grow. Read previous issues here.
We are in a crucial phase of human history, and we need money to make our message heard. Anything you can give is appreciated.
- Action Highlights: XR Serbia vs Rio Tinto, Elokapina vs Finnish Government.
- Special Report: New Kids On The Block(ade) – Blockade Australia, Insulate Britain, Last Generation Italy, Shell Must Fall. Read The Full Report here.
- Action Roundup: Switzerland, USA, France, Iceland, Canada, Tanzania, Argentina, South Africa, Austria, UK.
- Announcements: Philippines Fundraiser, Solarpunk Showcase, Regen 101, Web Developers & Podcast Producers Wanted.
- Humans of XR: Esteban, Germany.
XR Serbia: Lithium is not the answer
27 NOV – Present | Serbia
A rebel tells Rio Tinto what to do. The nationwide and weekly street protests are ongoing.
Serbia has seen a series of major protests across the country against a planned lithium mine. A coalition of different eco-activist groups, which XR Serbia supports, managed to mobilise thousands of people for road blockades in the capital Belgrade and dozens more cities and towns.
People across the political spectrum took to the streets to protest against Rio Tinto, the giant mining corporation that would develop the mine, and the Serbian government, for fast-tracking two law changes to ensure the mine was greenlit.
As well as disgust at perceived government corruption, the protestors saw the proposal as neo-colonialist. Serbia’s countryside would be destroyed, its rivers polluted, all so richer nations could have electric cars with lithium batteries and restore their own environments. Many believed they would benefit from the unearthed lithium about as much as Africans did from the diamond trade.
Despite the presence of riot police, clashes have been minimal. But some regions have seen police retreat to give violent gangs free reign to attack protestors.
In early December the two hour blockade of a major highway in Belgrade was joined by a staggering 100,000 people. After that seismic event, the government dropped its planned law changes. Then came the seemingly amazing news that Rio Tinto had put its mining plans on hold.
The truth is that the mining corporation is still pushing for a deal. XR Serbia travelled to Jadar Valley, the western farming region that is the site of the proposed mine. Local landowners are still being phoned by Rio Tinto and being urged to sell their land. So the weekly protests continue – the crowds smaller than before, but still in their hundreds.
XR Serbia is a young rebel chapter, launched in May and grown from a Fridays For Future branch in Belgrade. Today they have 15 active members with more groups forming in other cities. Their English language skills have made them instrumental in bringing international attention to Serbia’s wave of environmental struggles.
There is an argument that new mineral mines are necessary if we are to transition away from fossil fuels. But XR Serbia stresses that we cannot simply exchange one non-renewable, ecologically-damaging energy source for another. Instead, we need to embrace degrowth, which means reducing our overall energy use and rejecting an economic system geared towards over-consumption.
For updates from XR Serbia follow them on Instagram.
Rebels Make Finnish Government Talk Climate
15 DEC | Helsinki, Finland
Rebels blockade central Helsinki during the Autumn Rebellion. The banner: “We care about you. We are sorry.” Photo: Tero Ojala
Throughout the pandemic, politicians have spoken publicly – sometimes every day – to communicate about the health emergency and what is being done to stop it from getting worse. But why aren’t they doing the same for the climate crisis?
That was the rationale behind Elokapina’s (XR Finland’s) newest demand – that their government begin regular crisis communications about the climate emergency. Two rebellions later, the government has been forced to sit up and listen.
The demand was unveiled during Elokapina’s Summer Rebellion, and pushed again during their Autumn Rebellion, where over a thousand rebels took to the streets of Helsinki across ten days of actions. “Climate emergency now – Crisis communications!” was chanted outside the Finnish Parliament.
Rebels were inspired by the idea that if the public saw the government taking the climate as seriously as Covid-19, maybe they would too. These ‘crisis communications’ could lead to a mandate for radical solutions.
Hundreds of rebels mass outside Finland’s Parliament to begin the Autumn Rebellion.
The police responded by detaining a staggering 495 rebels, but they couldn’t stop the demand from receiving huge media attention. The rebels also set up a dedicated “politicians’ microphone” outside parliament, inviting prominent figures to be interviewed about the climate emergency. Many showed up, including the Minister of Internal Affairs, and rebels discussed the demands with representatives from all the governing parties.
In November, the rebels’ campaign bore fruit. The newly appointed Minister of Environment and Climate Change announced that she would begin regular crisis briefings about the climate and nature emergencies.
The first briefing was held on 15th December, themed around the state of Finnish forests and the implementation of the EU’s biodiversity strategy. Journalists and members of the public were invited to ask questions. The public is now being asked to suggest themes for future briefings.
Elokapina’s Blood Brigade silently flows through Helsinki during the Autumn Rebellion.
Over the past two years, Elokapina has faced massive obstacles in its fight for climate justice. Rebels have been pepper-sprayed by police, driven over by angry motorists, and harassed both online and off by far-right hate groups – all for simply telling the truth.
Given that many Finnish rebels are under 30, the media has frequently dismissed them as “youth”. But instead of being diminished, Elokapina’s membership has grown from 300 to over 1400 in little more than a year. Their courage has led to an array of other successes, including convincing Finland’s biggest newspaper as well as its national public broadcaster to launch dedicated coverage of climate and nature news.
The Finnish government still hasn’t declared a climate emergency – and at the current rate, the country will overshoot its carbon budget in just four years. “But these crisis briefings are a start,” said one rebel, “and we’ll keep building the movement until they can’t ignore us any more.”
For updates from Elokapina/XR Finland follow them on Twitter.
Special Report: New Kids On The Block(ade)
Last Generation rebels prepare to blockade a motorway in Rome, Italy.
The last year has been a bleak one for climate activists. We’ve seen extreme weather events proliferate, political inaction dressed up as progress (again), and a return to rising global emissions after the economic slowdown brought on by the pandemic.
But one aspect of 2021 that we should take solace in is climate activism itself. There has been an amazing array of new groups and campaigns popping up, many using bold tactics and fresh approaches to push nonviolent direct action (NVDA) to new levels.
The world of climate activism has never been so broad and exciting, but also never so confusing. What are the aims of these new climate groups? What is their relationship (if any) with XR? What can we expect from them in 2022?
We spoke to four of them – Blockade Australia, Insulate Britain, Last Generation, and Shell Must Fall – to build some bridges and get some clarity as we ready ourselves for another year of global rebellion…
Established Early 2021 | Australia
Activists abseil from coal handling machinery on the tenth consecutive day of disruption.
Just over a year ago, rebels from XR Brisbane joined activists from other backgrounds in a move to Sydney, where their actions could have greater reach and a bigger economic impact. The relocation became an opportunity to start fresh, and do NVDA however they liked.
They started planning a series of actions that would be more intensive, offensive, and disruptive than had come before, and more activists started to join them. While the world was watching COP26 enter its turgid second week, they were ready to launch their first wave of climate resistance.
For eleven consecutive days, Blockade Australia disrupted the Port of Newcastle, the largest coal port in the world. They blocked the trains transporting coal from the region’s open-cut mines, pressed emergency buttons, and climbed onto the port’s coal-loading equipment.
An indigenous activist blocks the port railway on the first day of disruption.
The biggest lesson from the campaign was how important it was to make the disruption sustained. For the first few days there was little interest in the actions, but by the second week the regional politicians and media were in a frenzy, and the group was famous around the world.
Despite threats of 25-year jail sentences, only one of the 28 arrested was imprisoned, and on appeal he was released on strict bail conditions three days into his one-year sentence. The rest received hefty fines of Au$1500 and community corrections orders, meaning they cannot reoffend for two years.
Unlike other recently emerged groups, prison is not a part of Blockade Australia’s strategy. But those corrections orders have not stopped them from planning a second wave of climate resistance in Sydney for June 2022.
Activists hit emergency stop buttons and harness themselves to coal port machinery.
While Blockade Australia has no formal relationship with XR Australia, they are in contact with many local XR groups who support their aim to maximise disruption.
Blockade Australia recognises how vital XR was in paving the way for their own organisation. They hope XR can initiate its own sequence of sustained mobilisations some day soon.
For similar profiles of Insulate Britain, Last Generation: Citizens’ Assemblies Now, and Shell Must Fall, head over to the XR Global Website for The Full Report.
9 DEC | Bern, Switzerland: Victory! After an incredible 39-day hunger strike a Swiss father had his demand met! The Swiss parliament agreed to discuss policy with climate scientists.
10 DEC | Washington, D.C., USA: Declare Emergency complete their third consecutive day of road blockades. The new group is demanding the President declare a climate emergency.
17 DEC | Lyon, France: Rebels block the Edouard Herriot Petroleum terminal before sunrise. For three months the group has been targeting French oil giant Total. The banner: Total, Gravedigger of Life.
19 DEC | Reykjavik, Iceland: Rebels visit the country’s two biggest shopping malls to highlight how the fashion industry causes ecological destruction.
19 DEC | Wet’Suet’En/British Columbia & Toronto, Canada: Victory! Indigenous activists evict pipeline construction workers, reoccupy the site known as Coyote Camp, and continue their blockade. Last month they were raided and arrested by militarised police. In Toronto, rebels blocked a major viaduct in support of the activists.
20 DEC | Tanzania: Rebels complete a beach clean-up and later plant fruit trees as a Christmas gift to Mother Earth.
22 DEC | Buenos Aires, Argentina: Rebels held a fabulous fashion show in front of a Zara clothing store, showing off eccentric outfits made of recycled materials. Zara is a leading player in the fast fashion industry, which is responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions.
28 DEC | South Africa: Victory! The high court rules that Shell must halt its seismic blasting off the ‘Wild Coast’ to protect marine ecosystems and livelihoods.
31 DEC | Vienna, Austria: A bitter struggle over new roads around the Lobau wetlands reserve culminated in a wooden shelter occupied by members of Lobau Bleibt being deliberately set ablaze. The activists escaped unharmed, but a member of the city’s governing Social-Democratic party declared he wanted to give the arsonist a medal.
3 JAN | London, UK: Victory! The Court of Appeal rules that an imprisoned rebel should be released on bail immediately. The blind Paralympian was sentenced to 12 months in prison in September for climbing onto an aeroplane.
5 JAN | Buenos Aires, Argentina: Rebels protest outside oil company Equinor’s offices because of the seismic blasting it conducts off Argentina’s shoreline.
XR Philippines: Fundraiser for Typhoon Rai
A woman looks over her home destroyed by Typhoon Rai Photo: AP Photo / Jay Labra
Super Typhoon Rai ravaged the Philippine regions of Visayas and Mindanao in December, inflicting $500 million worth of damage to the land and livelihoods of local communities.
The Category 5 typhoon, the 15th to hit the country in 2021, displaced 570,000 people and affected over 4 million – many of whom were still recovering from past typhoons. Lack of government support, absence of power and telecommunications, and the ongoing pandemic has made recovery difficult.
XR Philippines has partnered with Earth Friends Podcast to raise funds and help these communities recuperate. Donations will be used for immediate aid and long-term recovery. As of January 8, we have already redistributed $9,500 dollars in water filters, food, hygiene kits, and construction materials to affected communities.
We are still accepting monetary donations through these channels:
For more information and transparency reports, please check our social media pages at @extinctionrebellionph on Instagram and Facebook.
Winners Announced: XR Solarpunk Storytelling Showcase
The first ever Showcase invited entrants to write a short story in the Solarpunk genre (fiction set in a future world where technology, humanity, and the rest of nature flourish in harmony) to cultivate hope and inspire climate action.
The Showcase was open to writers everywhere and of all ages, with our youngest entrant just six years old! In the spirit of unity in the face of this emergency, we decided a showcase was more suitable than a competition, and each age group had three top stories selected for prizes.
Illustrations for our prize-winning stories are being prepared by a team of artists, and the prizes include full scholarships to Terra.do (the world’s first online global climate school), Solarpunk Magazine subscriptions, podcast versions of their stories by Solarpunk Magazine, online publication, animal adoption kits, and more!
We are thrilled with this first Showcase and looking forward to the stories’ imminent publication on a solar-powered website. Stay tuned!
Regen 101 Workshops
23 JAN / 20 FEB / 20 MAR | 22:00 UTC | Online
This experiential, practical, and educational workshop is a beautiful introduction to Regenerative Cultures for those new to XR and essential for those rebels already in it.
Join our facilitators Christie and Madi for this nourishing exploration of Regenerative Cultures, Earth Emotions, Community and Self-care, and Emotional Debriefing. There is capacity for 35 folks to join us in each session.
Time: 22:00 UTC, 17:00 EST, 14:00 PST Check Your Time Zone Here
Wanted: Web Developers For XR Global Website
Are you a web developer looking to use your skills to help stop climate change? Look no further! XR Global Support (the people behind the XR Global Website) are looking for coders to join their team.
Wanted: Sound Designers/Editors For XR Podcast
Are you a sound designer, editor, or pod producer who can give 10 hours a month to help address the numerous crises we are all suffering under?
We are looking to reboot the XR Podcast team for 2022. We’re interested in editors based around the world to feed us international stories. We also need people who can help with crucial admin and uploading.
Our last podcast had nearly 20K downloads and we’d love to build on this. Previous interviewees include Jascon Hickel, Joanna Macy, Kate Raworth, Margaret Atwood, Jonathan Franzen, George Monbiot, and Kevin Anderson.
We’re particularly interested in underrepped groups and can provide some training for presenters with promise.
If you feel you have something to offer the team, or know someone who might, please email us: email@example.com
Humans of XR: Esteban, Berlin
I never expected to find myself in this position.
I am a scientist. I worked for a decade in Silicon Valley but grew sick of it: the consumerism of the USA, I found it dehumanising. So I returned to Argentina and started a sustainable community in Mendoza Province, a region with a history of fighting for the environment. Desert people fighting for their water.
In 2018 I founded EcoLeaks and published a government report (provided by a whistleblower) on the effects of fracking in Mendoza. The government lied about the contamination of aquifers, a betrayal of the people which led to mass mobilisation against fracking. In my town alone of 30,000 people, 15,000 took to the streets.
I was forced to leave Argentina for Germany in 2019 as the situation intensified. I faced many false criminal charges, including violence, drug dealing, and public intimidation. There were death threats against my girlfriend and my family.
We need to find ways to reactivate and excite people. Communication, persuasion, explanation. Move beyond abstract demands. I helped set up XR Mendoza, considering XR a spinal cord of action. A way to connect environmental groups and build international solidarity. To join the dots and cast light on the crimes of companies, such as BP, Shell, Repsol, Total, and Wintershall.
Shale Must Fall, for example, is a coalition which I coordinate. Groups that have come together for a common cause: to fight fracking and colonisation, the latter disguised as green investment.
The Global North holds all the power. We must break away from the European framework and look to the Global South in solidarity. Stop these companies destroying our world. We who have knowledge should have humility, and put ourselves at the service of those who stand on the frontline of climate injustice.
In Europe, protest is low risk with high impact, while in the Global South the opposite is true. People are jailed, tortured and murdered—farmers, indigenous peoples, activists. This is happening now as Argentina is destroyed by processes banned elsewhere. Why is fracking not banned worldwide?
All I wanted was a nice, hippy, relaxed life. I have ended up fighting a war.
But we can win. We can stop this.
If you know (or are) a rebel somewhere in the world with a story to tell, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
12 NOV | Minnesota, America: An activist who sabotaged the Dakota Access Pipeline and was sentenced to 8 years in jail as a ‘domestic terrorist’ is appealing her sentence.
Thank you for reading, rebel. If you have any questions or feedback, we want to hear from you. Get in touch at email@example.com.
We are in a crucial phase of human history, and our movement needs money to make our message heard. Anything you can give is appreciated.