XR UK Newsletter December 2021
Welcome to the last UK Newsletter of 2021. Since we reformed the Newsletter team earlier this year we’ve managed to produce regular monthly issues covering stories and news from across the XR UK movement. We were particularly pleased to have put out eight special issues covering the Impossible Rebellion during the summer. We hope the Newsletter will continue to evolve over the next year. We aim to pull together news and analysis of actions and campaigns, provide an opportunity to publicise campaigns and events to a UK wide audience and to help our readers keep informed about climate issues. We’ll be back on January 3rd. Have a great holiday season.
It’s not too late for us to make COP26 a success
Nov 2021 | Glasgow
COP26 was hailed as humanity’s last chance. Among other things, it needed to deliver near-term targets to end the global burning of fossil fuels, and adequately support the worst-hit countries that have contributed the least to the climate crisis – but it didn’t. Even after a year that’s seen climate-related fire, flooding and famine around the world, leaders may not have gone far enough to ‘keep 1.5 alive’. And 1.5 degrees of warming is already too late for the millions impacted right now – in Madagascar, the Pacific Islands and many other places.
We want to celebrate that some new historic agreements have been made at COP26. But, if all long-term net-zero promises are met, even on the most optimistic analysis we could still be heading for around 1.8 degrees warming by 2100. However, according to Climate Action Tracker, when governments’ actual policies – rather than pledges – are analysed, the world’s projected warming is 2.7C by 2100. In the last 30 years, we’ve watched the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement, and a long succession of COPs come and go. And despite these continuous conferences, global emissions continued to rise into 2020 – when they dropped because of the pandemic, not international interventions.
But we want to believe that this COP is different, and that it’s not too late to make that happen. Extinction Rebellion has always believed in mobilising a critical mass, and climate concern has never been as high in the UK as it is now. In the ongoing pandemic, we’ve seen how fast the world can act when it sees catastrophe coming. We need to seize every opportunity we have – demanding ambitious policies at home, coordinating with other movements, creating constructive dialogue, and helping to push society into emergency mode. Being part of this push will look different for all of us, depending on our circumstances, but we’ll be united by our determination to put care for people and planet at the heart of a better society. As we see more and more people telling the truth in the public eye, we want to see climate action seriously escalate, unlocking social, political and economic feedback loops that bring 1.5 back from the brink – and we do believe it’s possible. This will take everyone we’ve got, doing whatever they can from wherever they can.
What can you do? Can you act now, demanding change in your neighbourhood, region or nationally? Can you tell the truth about the climate emergency, using your voice to grow momentum and urgency? Or could you even find ways to go beyond politics and campaign for a Citizens’ Assembly in your area? Whatever it is, we need you to do it – and we’ll help.
Resisting the End of Protest: #KillTheBill
Dec 8 5-7pm | London, Victoria Tower Gardens
Dec 7 & 8 | Digital Rebellion
It’s a move that has been widely condemned as contempt for democracy. When the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill reaches the House of Lords on Wednesday, an additional 18 pages of amendments will have been added to the version of the Bill that had already been debated in the Commons. These are not just technical changes. There are new, vaguely defined but serious offences of ‘locking on’, or of ‘being equipped’ and possible prison sentences of up to 51 weeks for ‘obstructing the highway’ or ‘obstruction of major transport works’. Stop and search powers will be extended, can be authorised ‘without suspicion’, and will enable the seizure of placards, banners or anything that could be deemed to be used in a protest. Simply attending two or more protests in a five year period can result in the imposition of a Serious Disruption Prevention Order (SDPO), which restricts freedom of movement, ability to associate with others and even personal use of the internet.
Does this fundamental attack on the right to protest sound like a free society? The Bill already contained provisions to ban ‘noisy protests’; impose restrictive conditions on one-person protests; introduce sentences of up to 10 years for a new ‘public nuisance offence’ and criminalise Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people for ‘unauthorised encampments’.
But opposition to the Bill is growing. More than 350 civil society organisations have spoken out against the Bill, 600,000 people this summer signed a petition and more than 700 legal academics have urged the government to rethink it. We have a narrow window of time to persuade the Lords to vote against the most sinister parts of this bill. You can add your voice by joining the protest on December 8th.
Or you can join us in our Digital Rebellion action on 7th and 8th December. Our page has everything you’ll need for the mass calling on Tuesday and Wednesday. Follow the link here.
Solidarity Action for the Highway 9
Nov 20 | London
124 climate activists were arrested after Lambeth Bridge in London was blocked by a sit-down solidarity protest in support of Insulate Britain campaigners who were jailed for between three and six months on 16th November. XR joined with others to support the nine peaceful activists: Emma, Roman, Jimmy, Ben, Olly, Louis, Tim, Ana & Ben. They risked everything to see nonviolent resistance achieve radical change, but this government would rather jail teachers, doctors, architects and mothers than uphold their own climate pledges.
More than 250 people had marched from the Royal Courts of Justice and the bridge was shut to traffic for a number of hours by the sit-in
Meanwhile, one of the jailed activists, Emma Smart, 44, from Weymouth, Dorset, has been on hunger strike since 16th November. On Friday 26th November Emma was moved out of her cell onto the hospital wing at HMP Bronzefield.
Speaking from the prison, Emma said:
“The window of my cell in the hospital wing is blocked up and there is little natural light, in my previous cell I could see the birds and trees that line the prison fence. I have less time to go outside in the prison yard for exercise now. All of this is testing my resolve to continue, but I feel that not eating is the only thing I can do from prison to draw attention to those who will have to make the choice between heating and eating this winter.
“Not standing by while our government commits treason against the people of this country feels like the most important thing I will do in my life.”
Amazon Black Friday
Nov 26 | UK
As 26th November dawned, activists locked on across the UK to block 13 Amazon distribution centres responsible for more than 50% of Amazon’s UK deliveries on Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Rebels targeted sites in Doncaster, Darlington, Newcastle, Manchester, Peterborough, Derby, Coventry, Rugeley, Dartford, Bristol, Tilbury, Milton Keynes and Dunfermline.
Rebels targeted Amazon because they wanted to highlight everything the global corporation stands for – overconsumption, exploitation, and obscene wealth in the hands of a few. The company said that activities tied to its businesses emitted 60 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide last year – more than a medium-sized country – and their annual footprint has grown since 2018, the first time Amazon disclosed this information.
In June this year, ITV news exposed Amazon for destroying millions of items of new and unused stock every year ‘because it is cheaper than reselling or recycling them’. And Amazon exploits people as well as the planet: workers have described gruelling conditions, surveillance, and difficulty unionising.
As activist Eleanor Harris, from Glasgow, said: “It is essential we move to a new model of economics that prioritises wellbeing and sustainability over profit. The era of exploitative throw-away capitalism will soon be over, either by changing to meet the challenges we now face or by the destruction of our global habitats and societies”.
Satya Robyn Completes Year Long Vigil
Oct 31 | Malvern, Worcestershire
In October, XR Buddhist Satya Robyn completed her year-long ‘Vigil for the Earth’. She had sat in her local town, Malvern, for a silent hour every day, with a ‘Love and Grief for the Earth’ placard around her neck, to raise local awareness of the severity of the climate crisis. Even through snow and August heat she didn’t miss a single day, continuing in the front car park of her temple during lockdown, and in different places when on holiday or on rebellions. Over the course of the year the local town came to know her, and her vigil has started many conversations about climate change and system change. Her local group, XR Malvern, continues to sit in the same spot every Saturday, making use of a wonderful space for rebels to get together and for outreach to locals.
Satya is the author of ‘Dear Earth: Love, Grief and Activism‘.
News and Announcements
Rebel Survey Feedback
Want to know the mood of the Movement? Who are we? What do we want? The 2021 Rebel Survey report helps to answer these questions and more. This was the third annual survey across XR, carried out by Feedback and Learning Culture Circle (FLC).
The survey went out through the UK mailing list in September and a total of 3,256 responses were obtained. Multiple choice questions provided, for example: demographic data, comments on the Rebellion (e.g., 87% agreed with its aims and the strategy), the extent to which respondents reported feeling a part of the XR community, and what actions they are likely to participate in and/or support in the future. There was also an open ended question: ‘Is there one thing you would want to see XR doing differently?’ This provided a range of comments about XR’s aims, strategy, actions, messaging, communications etc., which may prove useful in discussions about the direction which XR should take in the future.
A short report, as well as links to the full report, can be found here.
Dec 11 & 19 | London & Manchester
Come together on the 19th December for the Extinction Rebellion Earth Ball! Held in an exciting venue, this will be 11 hours of a variety of events across 3 floors, including: kidz rave, vegan food, art auction, live music, spoken word… and much more! Tickets will be available soon, so keep an eye out!
1pm – midnight Sunday 19th December, Electrowerkz, Islington, London. See Facebook event.
Can’t travel to London? XR Manchester invite all Northern based rebels to their big Christmas social on Sunday 11 December 6pm onwards at Sandbar, to celebrate this year’s achievements, just enjoy each other’s company and remind ourselves why we do what we do! You can see more about the event here.
Sandbar, 120 Grosvenor Street, M1 7HL
Please note all socials will be subject to current COVID-19 restrictions.
Adani at the Science Museum
We’ve covered this story in previous issues, but among the sponsors that London’s Science Museum has signed for its new climate change gallery is Adani – a massive coal conglomerate. In just one of their projects, they plan to extract up to 60 million tonnes of coal a year for 90 years from their mine in Australia. XR is working to mobilise people around future actions at the museum. If you want to take part, then join the WhatsApp channel here.
Navigate is a workers’ co-operative focused on supporting groups to find collective solutions to shared challenges. They have done a very significant amount of work for XR UK, in areas such as the Strategy Assembly, Demand Evolution Process and in transformative conflict resolution. As a gesture of appreciation and thanks, we are sharing their fundraising link in the hope that some Rebels might feel able to support Navigate to continue their important work. They mostly collaborate with unfunded or underfunded grassroots groups who are working for social and environmental justice. If you are able, please donate here.
Dispatches | Streaming on All 4
How Green Is the Government? First screened last month as Britain prepared to host the COP26 summit, this Dispatches special investigates the PM’s claim that the UK is the global leader in the fight against the climate crisis. The answer will not come as a surprise to you, but the programme contains a highly sympathetic portrayal of young activists gearing up to take the Prime Minister to court for his failures to implement the 2015 Paris commitments.
Dear Future Children | General Release
An award-winning feature documentary by 22-year-old director Franz Böhm, portraying three young activists around the world and their continued fights and personal journeys. The film follows Hilda battling the devastating consequences of climate change in Uganda, Pepper fighting for democracy in Hong Kong, and Rayen protesting for social justice in Chile. It not only demonstrates how they cope with the staggering personal impact of their political activism, but also points to the interconnectedness of different social and environmental issues and movements, and creative ways in which individuals can take action.
Watch the trailer here.
Man on Plane | XRUK YouTube Channel
During the 2019 Rebellion, two-time Paralympian gold medallist James Brown climbed on top of a commercial plane to highlight the dire extent of the climate crisis and protest the expansion of London City Airport. He was sentenced and is now in Wandsworth Prison, where rebels from South London and beyond gather for an hour a day in solidarity.
In this powerful documentary, James talks about that day in October, his motivation, the court case and sentencing, and why everyone must do what they can about the climate crisis.
The link to the documentary is here.
XR Global Newsletter
The next XR Global Newsletter is out this Friday and this month there’s a special report on eco-anxiety that explains the condition, offers steps to dealing with it, and links you to all kinds of support. They also cover two brilliant Scandinavian actions that involved occupying eight airports and headquarters of the oil firm Total. Plus coverage of protests in South Africa, Serbia, Greece, India and more. If you don’t already subscribe then here is the link.
The UK newsletter needs you!
We’re always looking for new writers to join our team! Are you keen to tell rebellion stories and help grow the movement? Do you keep an eye on the news and what is and isn’t being said? Then please get in touch!
Our regular UK Newsletter aims to be representative of the whole movement and its local and regional groups. So, please send in your news, feedback and comments.
You can email us at XR-UKNewsletter@protonmail.com or join our channel on Mattermost: UK Emails and Newsletter Requests. The UK Newsletter normally comes out on the first Monday of the month, so the deadline for news, announcements and stories is the end of the preceding week.
Love and Rage,
The UK Newsletter Editing Team
To connect to rebels in your local area, get in touch with your nearest XR group.
Read previous newsletter issues here.