October Actions by Oxford Rebels

It’s been a packed month in the lead-up to COP26! We’ve welcomed a brave group from XR Spain, blocked highly polluting private flights, and exposed government greenwashing.

Spanish Marchers

Man holding a microphone standing in front of Extinction Rebellion banner

The first we heard of this group – twenty people walking all the way to the Glasgow COP from Spain – was at an XRO monthly gathering sometime in the summer of 2021. It all seemed quite a way off, the August Rebellion was in our minds and Insulate Britain just a whisper.

Three of us turned up in the zoom breakout room to find out more. We got as far as booking the St. Margaret’s Institute Hall for supper – reckoning they’d be hungry and would appreciate a stopover, somewhere central, along their South-North route through Oxford. At that point we were expecting twenty marchers.

Then the Rebellion took over and we returned to the matter of beds only after it was over. Beds? For twenty? (which turned out in the end to be 10). Fortunately one of our trio of planners lives on a street on the route with a google group. A message there brought an astonishing number of willing hosts of whom two or three were XR members. For the rest the experience turned out to be a hugely successful ‘outreach moment’. Not only did our hosts turn up for the community supper, along with a number of others from local ‘green’ groups, but the next morning, they escorted their visitors up to Summertown and experienced the full spectacle of XRO at its most cheery – samba band, flags, speeches with some marching with them to Kidlington. Our XR network provided script and photos for the Oxford Mail – read their article here.

Group of rebels with Extinction Rebellion banners

All those who met the Spanish ‘Marcha a Glasgow’ group were impressed at the dedication required for such an adventure – the careful planning and immense stamina, an active metaphor for all we need to achieve in the very high stakes of the Glasgow COP. To follow the Marchers on their journey go to www.marcha-a-glasgow.net

Farnborough Airport Blockade

Banner reading:
Private Flights Cost The Earth

Extinction Rebellion teams from the South East region blocked the three main gates of Farnborough Airport on 2nd October, from early morning to 17.00, using a stretch limousine, a steel tripod, and other lock-on devices. They were highlighting the absurdity of allowing the use of private jets, when they are five to 14 times more polluting than commercial planes (per passenger), and 50 times more polluting than trains, and when the CO2 emissions of private jets in Europe have increased by 31% between 2005 and 2019. As the protesters pointed out, the idea of  ‘sustainable aviation fuel’ is a blatant attempt at greenwash, especially dangerous in the weeks preceding COP26.

The action got great coverage in the national press:

BBC News: Farnborough Airport entrances blocked by protesters

Sky News: Extinction Rebellion climate activists block entrances to airport over private jet flights

The Independent: Extinction Rebellion protesters blockade Farnborough airport

Greenwash and Meditators on Saturdays

We’ve been taking action every Saturday at noon this month, alternating between a meditators protest outside Barclays Bank, and greenwashing outreach in Bonn Square. There will be one more on the 30th outside Barclays – please join us!

Greenwashing is a favourite tactic of governments and corporations that continue to profit from trashing the planet to delay action on climate breakdown. Greenwashing is, for example, promoting the myth that ‘natural gas’ is a green solution to the transition from coal and oil to renewable energy – its not, it’s a fossil fuel. All the talk about ‘net zero’ or worse still, ‘jet zero’ – beloved by Boris Johnson to persuade the public that aviation can continue to expand but be carbon neutral with ‘green’ aviation fuel – all this is greenwashing. And there will be much, much more coming out of COP26 in a few weeks’ time, when delegates will be falling over themselves to tell the world how green they are, how many trees they will plant, while refusing to change the economic models that are threatening the world with catastrophe.

Over the past couple of months Oxfordshire rebels have been calling out greenwashing in the centre of Oxford, filling Bonn Square with t-shirts on a washing line spelling out ‘greenwash’, a giant box of greenwashing powder called ‘Denial’, banners and placards, flags and badges, and the joyous rhythms of a samba! Public engagement has been crucial – thousands of leaflets have been handed out, and many many conversations had with passers-by.

This leads well into the ‘Drowning in Greenwash’ element in XR’s new campaign, Deep Water Rising, that kicks off on 30th October.