Monday, 15 April 2019

Climate activism > "With Brexit paralysing our politics, radical action like Extinction Rebellion has never been more justified."

The Extinction Rebellion campaign 'proposes a new paradigm for climate-change activism':
Futures Forum: Climate change > Extinction Rebellion "striking at the end of the world"

It was at work in Exeter last month:
Futures Forum: Extinction Rebellion in Exeter: comment, photos, videos from Saturday's action

And it has been at work in London today:

Breaking the law is the future of climate protests

By Akshat Rathi in London
1 hour ago

Thousands of climate protestors have disrupted traffic in iconic locations across London today (April 15). Organized by the UK-based group Extinction Rebellion, the protestors are demanding the UK government declare a climate emergency and become carbon neutral by 2025.

For commuters coming out from the Oxford Circus station, the atmosphere looks more like a festival than a protest. In the middle of the square is a pink boat with “TELL THE TRUTH” painted across. For tourists at the popular Marble Arch, demonstrators put up a large inflated elephant with “ECOCIDE” written on it. And on Waterloo Bridge protestors placed trees on the street to turn it into a sort of garden, blocking cars from using the bridge. Only cyclists have been allowed to pass through.

Some activists glued themselves to the revolving doors of Shell’s London headquarters. Others spray painted “Shell kills” and “Shell knew” on the building’s exterior walls. Three were arrested, according to Metropolitan Police. “Companies like Shell are responsible. They must be held accountable,” Extinction Rebellion said in a statement. “We are trying to prevent crimes against humanity through our actions.” 


Extinction Rebellion: Breaking the law is the future of climate protests — Quartz

With some interesting commentary:
It's the start of the Extinction Rebellion | TreeHugger
Only rebellion will prevent an ecological apocalypse | George Monbiot | Opinion | The Guardian
Extinction Rebellion protesters who want to be arrested: be careful what you wish for | Ben Smoke | Opinion | The Guardian
London protest: What is Extinction Rebellion - why are they protesting - Traffic update | UK | News | Express.co.uk
So what if Extinction Rebellion’s roadblocks are inconvenient? Fighting climate change isn’t meant to be easy | The Independent

And more from the Independent: 

With Brexit paralysing our politics, radical action like Extinction Rebellion has never been more justified

There is an honourable tradition of non-violent civil disobedience in the UK. Such action is necessary when important messages are being drowned out

Editorial @IndyVoices
3 hours ago

The disruption caused by the climate activists of Extinction Rebellion in London today might not have endeared them to people inconvenienced by their non-violent direct action.

On the face of it, many voters might judge that the country has more important things to think about – not least, how to resolve the Brexit crisis – than the group’s ambitious and probably unrealistic demand to reduce net carbon emissions to zero by 2025. It also wants the government to declare a climate and ecological emergency and create a citizen’s assembly so the public would lead on environmental decisions.

The attempt to “shut down London”, part of an “international rebellion” planned in 80 cities in more than 30 countries, is a reminder of how other important issues have been eclipsed by Brexit. It has not only consumed the government machine and paralysed parliament, but also sucked the life out of wider political debate in a country still polarised almost three years after the EU referendum.

Our politicians tend to give the environment the attention it deserves only when an issue clearly becomes a matter of public concern. But too often they see a box being ticked, and move on to their next act of firefighting. Climate change requires a much greater, and permanent, focus.

While the UK government can point to some success in curbing carbon emissions, it also has a wider responsibility to lead in the global debate, and help ensure the burden of tackling the problem does not fall disproportionately on poor nations or poor people in richer countries. If the world does not plan properly and waits until there is an immediate crisis, its ability to act will be reduced. There are huge challenges, such as the need to develop carbon capture for heavy industry and new aviation fuels.

Our politicians should resist the temptation to follow the caricature in Tory-leaning newspapers and dismiss the protesters as “middle-class climate zealots”. Nor should they assume that they are talking about an issue which has slipped off the public’s radar because it grabs few headlines.

True, Brexit is regarded as by far the most important matter facing the country. But when people were asked to name a range of issues, the proportion citing pollution and the environment rose to 15 per cent this year, its highest level since January 2007, according to Ipsos Mori.

Some politicians acknowledge the scale of the challenge. Michael Gove has been a surprisingly active environment secretary, a welcome exception to the government’s failure to move beyond Brexit. Claire Perry, the energy and clean growth minister, raised eyebrows by admitting she had met Extinction Rebellion for what she called a “good and productive chat”.

She was right to talk to the group. On Sunday, she claimed it put forward no solutions, arguing that the government had already declared the “war” on climate change it demanded. But perhaps Perry was wrong to argue: “There is no need to create mayhem for millions of people to get your message across.”

Non-violent civil disobedience can be justified when such important messages are being drowned out, as they are today; there is an honourable tradition of such action in the UK. Sometimes, it takes radical action to force all of us to sit up and take notice. This is even more necessary when the political class is still lost in the Brexit maze, with no sign that the talks continuing at a snail’s pace between ministers and their Labour shadows will find an escape route.

The climate protests may be inconvenient, but they reveal more than a single inconvenient truth.

With Brexit paralysing our politics, radical action like Extinction Rebellion has never been more justified | The Independent

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