XR rebels take to UK streets as Parliament blockade draws near
Throughout the UK bank holiday, climate activist group Extinction Rebellion (XR) has been conducting a number of protests in the build-up to a major event on 1 September. The group states that civil disobedience is once again needed since “the government is currently not taking the actions required to confront the climate emergency”.
On 1 September, MPs return to Parliament after their summer recess. However, they may not be able to get into the building as XR rebels plan a blockade until their demands are met. This includes telling the truth on the unfolding crisis as well as to debate the “Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill”.
The UK actions are occurring at the same time that rebel groups across the world stage interventions and demonstrations against climate destroying projects, companies and governments after the global Covid-19 pandemic all but stopped mass demonstrations in 2020.
In Germany, naked activists gained entry to the Garzweiler coal mine where they occupied excavation machinery and chained themselves to conveyor belts. Sits and roadblocks also took place everywhere from Argentina to The Netherlands.
XR maintains some coordination as an overarching leadership council but is on the whole independent. The majority of actions are usually autonomous, from individuals and “action groups” taking the initiative and risking arrest to highlight the urgency of the crisis. Actions included:
- A procession and rally held at Silvertown Tunnel in Woolwich. The tunnel is a London project to provide car and lorry access to London City Airport, increasing toxic pollution to a mostly BAME community where less than half of people own a car.
- XR and Black Lives Matter came together to march and protest in solidarity in Brighton as they begin to pull the “Lightship Greta” from the seafront to the capital.
- Nine student rebels were arrested at Cambridge University as they sprayed “dirty hand prints” in washable chalkspray on the side of infamous college buildings to highlight the university £400 million oil investments.
- XR Doctors and rebels around the country put 20,000 warning stickers on petrol pumps
- Anti-HS2 protestors stormed a construction site in Birmingham to highlight the ecological damage the £110 billion project is causing, including the destruction of hundreds of ancient woodlands. HS2 Rebellion activists also occupied trees at London Euston where the HS2 line will run to.
- Protests and demonstrations were held outside Shell HQ in London where a number of rebels were arrested for painting “LIES” in green chalk paint on the front of the building.
- Rebels staged an action outside HSBC UK HQ to highlight the £67 billion of current investments the banking group has in the fossil fuel industry.
- Hundreds of banner drops have taken place around the country including projections on the cooling towers of Drax Power Station in York.
XR state that the blockade of the UK Parliament aims to last for at least two weeks as they effectively seal off the building, occupying Parliament Square and blocking all roads that lead to the building. Only when MPs agree to back the CEE bill will the demonstrations end.
Mass nonviolent civil disobedience is not only required, but is overdue. Governments around the world repeatedly fail to take the necessary action required to stop runaway climate change that threatens us all. This isn’t due to lack of ability or solutions, but down to vested interests in climate damaging industries.
For everyone who can safely do so, it is a democratic duty to protest against your government and take action where they don’t.
But being an activist doesn’t just involve being a nuisance and getting arrested. We are extremely powerful in all our actions, from where we get our energy from and who we bank with, to who we vote for.
Explore the icons below to see how you can be part of the solution and save our futures.