Protesting the PCSC Bill – 8th December 2021

On 8 December, as the notorious Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill entered the Report Stage on the Lords, XR Oxford took part in a hastily assembled protest against its draconian ramifications. We began at 5pm in Bonn Square, then after friendly but ultimately fruitless negotiations with the incumbent busker, we went marching around Cornmarket and New Inn Hall Street, settling again at Carfax for chants and classic protest songs. The amazing and inspiring Samba Band kept energy high.

XR Oxford samba drummers march through Cornmarket Street

The PCSC Bill was a staggering attack on the right to protest in its initial form, but the series of amendments Priti Patel has now tacked onto it make it even more pointedly threatening to XR’s activities. Should these amendments pass, locking on, or simply carrying lock-on equipment, will be criminalised, as will disrupting major transport works, carrying a sentence of up to 51 weeks. The penalty for obstruction of a highway, previously a fine, has been increased to a possible 51 weeks in prison. Suspicionless stop-and-search will be introduced, and all protest-related material will be confiscatable.

A masked woman holds a placard reading "Protest has changed the world"

The window to oppose these amendments is closing: the Report Stage in the Lords, which could in theory see their rejection, ends on 17 January. The Digital Rebellion team have made it incredibly easy to contact Lords with your concerns about the amendments: just follow this link for a step by step guide. Act in your own time, or get together with others for a lobbying session.

We will be protesting again on the streets on 15th January, 12-2pm. Gather on Cornmarket and bring bike locks, and placards saying ‘The PCSC Bill means I could be arrested for this’ (or message of your choice). We will have samba and leafleting; most people know nothing about the implications of this bill – we need to raise awareness.

Want to know more about the Bill and the new amendments? This document collates some useful sources of ideas and information: Collated Information on the PCSC Bill, and Suggested Actions

XR Oxford November Newsletter

Announcements

Dates for your diary

  • Saturday 27th November, 12-2pm, Cornmarket: post-COP outreach.
  • Saturday 27th November 6.15pm, Online: Rebel Talk zoom book launch. Register for Eventbrite ticket here.
  • Saturday 27th November 7.30pm, Pegasus Theatre: The Endling: thought-provoking play on species extinction. More details here.
  • Saturday 4th December, 10:30-16:30, Town Hall: Oxford Green Fair. Details here.
  • Sunday 12th December 3.30-6.30pm, Hogacre Common: Monthly gathering in the form of a social round the fire at Hogacre Common Eco Park. Bring food and drink to share, and firewood! Details on how to find Hogacre here.

Volunteers Needed

  • Leafletters and photo-holders needed for post-COP outreach on Cornmarket 27th November 12-2pm. Just turn up if you’re available.
  • People needed to staff the XR stall at the Oxford Green Fair on 4th December. Rota here, or contact xroxfordcoordinator@gmail.com if you can help.
  • Coordination help needed for the Arts group. Email xroxfordcoordinator@gmail.com to find out more.
  • Social Media team. We are forming a team to produce content for our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Contact xroxfordcomms@gmail.com to help.

News

Good COP Bad COP

Every year, members of nearly 200 nations assemble as a Conference of the Parties (COP) to discuss how to tackle climate change. Having already been delayed by a year due to the pandemic, the 26th COP held in Glasgow was eagerly awaited to see if the pledges first outlined in the 2015 Paris Agreement were being upheld. The word on the street was that not enough progress had been made and the goal of keeping the rise in global temperatures to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels was nowhere to be seen. 

[ Read more ]

Global Day of Action for Climate Justice

On Saturday, November 6th, an estimated 100,000 marchers filled the Glasgow streets, as part of the Global Day for Climate Justice – a coalition of organisations to bring together many movements, with some 200 cities participating around the world. The message was that justice will not be delivered by world leaders or corporations and that only we can build a future that works for all of us. Meanwhile 3,000 gathered in Oxford to make themselves heard.

[ Read more ]

Oxford Rebels take action during COP26

Oxford Rebels were busier than ever this month, taking part in:

  • Call the Alarm
  • Meditation Outreach
  • Red Rebel Pilgrimage
  • Vigil for Climate
  • …and a daily presence on Cornmarket!

[ Read more ]

Oxford and Cambridge coalition publish league table of colleges based on climate policies

The ‘Climate League of Oxford and Cambridge’, an alliance of student and citizens’
environmental groups, released league tables ranking colleges based on their climate
policies (‘CLOC Tables’). The CLOC Tables revealed that no colleges received top grades
A*, A, or B, and that the majority of colleges received fail grades.

[ Read more ]

Upcoming events

After all that action, we all deserve some regeneration!

Social Monthly Gathering

The December Monthly Gathering will be a social event at Hogacre Common on Sunday 12th December, 3:30-6:30PM. We will share stories, reconnect with each other, and meet new faces – everyone is welcome. This is a great chance to strengthen our bonds, away from the stresses of taking action. Bring food and drink to share, and firewood if you can!

Rebel Talk

Unvarnished poetry from the climate crisis under the headings Earth, Loss, Fear, Guilt, Struggle, and Hope.

We will be holding a Zoom launch event with poets reading from the book on Saturday 27th November, 6:15-7:30PM. Register here. Email rebeltalk@protonmail.com for more information.

The Endling

Saturday 27th November, 7:30PM: Emerging theatre company Strange Futures is here to explore animal extinction through a quirky physical theatre lens. 

“You are The Endling. The last. After this, it will all change.” 

We live in a time of ‘Endlings’ – the last individuals of a species. Through physical theatre and eccentric humour, Strange Futures explores the interconnectedness of human existence with the lives – and deaths – of other species. 

Tickets available here.


Oxford and Cambridge coalition publish league table of colleges based on climate policies

The ‘Climate League of Oxford and Cambridge’, an alliance of student and citizens’
environmental groups, released league tables ranking colleges based on their climate
policies (‘CLOC Tables’). The CLOC Tables revealed that no colleges received top grades
A*, A, or B, and that the majority of colleges received fail grades.

Despite Cambridge and Oxford colleges demanding A*s, As and Bs from its applicants, no
colleges received top grades. Cambridge’s highest-ranked college was Jesus College (67
points, a C), followed by St. Johns (52 points, a D), and Queen’s College (46 points, and E).
Oxford’s highest-ranked college was Somerville College (51 points, a D), followed by Corpus
Christi (47 points, an E), and Mansfield College (46 points, an E).

The majority of colleges received fail grades (57/68) and the average grade received was 22
points. 17 colleges received less than 10 points (4 in Cambridge and 12 in Oxford) and 4
colleges failed to score a single point (all 4 in Oxford).

The full CLOC Tables are available online at: www.oxcamCLOC.org.

Launch events of the CLOC Tables took place in both towns on Friday 19th November.

In Oxford, members of CLOC projected scores onto colleges and wrote the grades in front of colleges using chalk.

Later in the day, they created a visual representation of the CLOC Tables using the steps of
the Clarendon building. Each step was allocated a grade in descending order, and students
stood on the respective steps holding A-level certificates with college crests. The top steps –
representing the grades A*, A, B and C – remained empty.

Oxford Rebels take action during COP26

Call the Alarm

To mark the start of the COP and alongside a nationally organized event, we arranged an action on Magdalen Bridge on 30th October.  The purpose was to raise awareness of COP, highlight greenwashing and to bring attention to the fact that the likeliest risk to the UK from climate change was flooding.

We asked for people to meet on Magdalen bridge at 5.30, and we were planning to close the bridge by putting banners across the road, then hold a two minute silence. Then with the help of the samba band we wanted to raise as much noise as we could, as we sounded the alarm.

We had a great turnout on the night. Many with fantastic banners. As people arrived the Samba band played the beat of SOS to get people practicing for when the alarm was raised.  There was a police presence but a supportive one.

Before we moved onto the bridge, the Solemn Intention was read out – it was a great way to ground us before the action. It is a beautiful statement.

We then occupied the bridge, and with a raising of arms we all fell silent.  After two minutes, we moved to the sides of the bridge, and followed the samba band with the SOS rhythm.

There was great enthusiasm to take advantage of the numbers of people, the samba band and the beautiful banners – so we then moved to the roundabout at the plain and continued to call the alarm until about 6.45 when we dispersed.

Extinction Rebellion protestors on The Plain in Oxford

It was a great action, a big thank you to everyone who stewarded, blocked the road and just showed up, it felt like a good start to the COP.

– Sue

Bearing Witness – Meditation as a form of action

A number of meditators from different traditions, including Buddhist, Quaker, Christian, Sufi and secular mindfulness practice, have been joining some of the Barclays protests in Cornmarket over the last few months, simply sitting or standing in silent meditation on either side of the bank’s entrance.

The outreach team has found on these days that passers-by seem more wiling to engage and listen – perhaps responding, however subconsciously, to the peace, steadiness and goodwill that meditation helps to foster, in contrast to the hurry and noise of a busy shopping street.

For those of us who’ve taken part in these meditative actions, it’s been a powerful way to unite our `inner’ and `outer’ energies in collective ethical action. We all know how critical it is to stay resourced while seeking to wake our communities up to the selfishness, ignorance and apathy that is ravaging our precious home and bringing unimaginable suffering. These meditative actions are a way to reclaim and embody a sense of agency and solidarity with those seeking to protect the life systems on which all of us depend.

If you might like to take part in similar meditative actions, please contact Tim Stead, timstead67@gmail.com, and ask to be added to the mailing list.

– Brigid

Oxford Red Rebels join train relay to COP26

Six Oxford Red Rebels, plus guides, travelled by train from Oxford to Birmingham as part of the Red Rebel Relay to COP26 in Glasgow. We began at the Headington Shark – that great cry against war – and travelled by bus to the station where we spelled out CODE RED in semaphore in the stark sunlight. On our journey, we moved from carriage to carriage bearing witness to the climate emergency, and it is safe to say there was a strong reaction to our quiet presence: audible gasps, urgent questions to our guides and long-held gazes with many passengers awoke curiosity and bemusement. At Birmingham New Street we were greeted by local Reds in a powerful exchange before we left the station to slowly move around the city center, returning to welcome more Red Rebels arriving from Bristol and Rugby and to bid farewell to those Reds continuing the journey to Manchester. We formed a circle of familiar strangers united in our grief and stillness, contrasting with the rushing commuters, the juxtaposition opening a space in time to slip through and imagine a hopeful future. It was a great privilege to be part of such a wonderful effort, and to move with unknown Red Rebels, silently and without plan. I felt alive to the moment, to the here and now and to the power of our message, the love and compassion for all living beings and the possibility of change.

A group of Red Rebels in Glasgow

A week later I saw Red Rebel Brigade founder Doug Francisco leading a group of Red Rebels through the streets of Glasgow, all eyes fixed towards the future, and witnessed a rainbow form above them and a shaft of sunlight banish the wind and rain.

– Jeannie

Vigil for Climate

On Monday 1st November, to mark the start of the COP26, rebels joined the Vigil for Climate event in Oxford. It was a silent, candlelit hour of quiet refection, in honour of those whose lives have been lost or blighted by the climate crisis. We remembered the people and wildlife already lost to floods and wildfires, as well as the effects of heatwaves and crop failure around the globe. Rebels stood in a crescent of solidarity, holding lanterns and RIP tombstones, reminding us of long-gone animal and plant species we will never see again. Unlike the usual gloriously loud and colourful XR protests, the vigil was a sombre affair, which was surprisingly effective in the busy Carfax crossroads amongst the buses and shoppers. Many passers-by were hushed as they walked past rebels dressed in black. Although there was no active outreach, rebels on the periphery of the crescent were able to quietly engage curious onlookers. The hour-long silence ended with beautiful communal singing supported by the Sea Green Singers. By the end we all knew the lyrics of ‘Enough is Enough’, the COP song written by Scottish folk singer Karine Polwart. At the end of the vigil, people quietly left or remained in silence as the sound of singing quietly drifted into the night.

– Deborah

Daily Outreach

Photo: Suzanne Williams

Following the success of our daily presence on Cornmarket during the August Rebellion, we were there every lunchtime throughout COP, leafleting and talking to passers by to raise awareness. Signup sheets did very well, gaining over 200 new newsletter signups!  Eye catching props varied throughout the two weeks: Nellie the Elephant made a couple of appearances, as did the very affecting enlarged photos of climate impacts. Growing the movement is going to be an important strand of our activity post-COP, so this kind of outreach (though it can be wearing, as so many people clearly prefer blissful ignorance!) is valuable.

– April

Two days until Oxford’s biggest ever Climate March!

We’re getting excited for Saturday’s march! Climate groups from around Oxford, including Extinction Rebellion, Friends of the Earth, the Green Party, Low Carbon Oxford, and many more will be coming together to send a loud message to global leaders that they must make meaningful changes at COP26.

At 1pm on Saturday 6 November, people of Oxfordshire will be on the march. The main march will assemble at Manzil Way, Cowley Road (setting off at 1:30pm), and finish in a rally on Broad Street.

If you can’t make it to the main march, there will also be feeder marches linking up from elsewhere:

  • North Oxford: Summertown (outside the Co-op), starting at 1:30pm
  • West Oxford: Botley, Elms Parade, starting at 1:10pm, passing West Oxford Community Association at 1:40pm and the train station at 2:00pm

The marches are timed to arrive in Broad Street at 2.30pm, where the rally will hear speakers including both Oxford MPs, the Bishop of Oxford, and the High Sheriff of Oxfordshire.

This an inclusive event – bring as many friends and family as you can, along with your best banners and placards. There are some great ideas for messages here.

Other events

A reminder that we’re running COP26 outreach daily from 12-2pm on Cornmarket (except the 6th) until the 12th. On Friday 5th, we’ll be showcasing the 16 large photos used for the vigil earlier this week – extra hands welcome! Please email xroxfordactions@gmail.com if you are intending to come and hold a photo. Bring a chair or a cushion – it’s cold and hard on the ground!

We also have some regenerative events after all the action:

  • On Wednesday 10th November at 6:30pm in Common Ground, Little Clarendon St, Oxford, Oxfordshire poets will read their poems from Rebel Talk. Please sign up for a free ticket on Eventbrite.
    Rebel Talk is an anthology of climate crisis poems by people in Britain and several other countries; it is a fundraiser for Extinction Rebellion Oxford. It is sold for £10 at Extinction Rebellion and other climate campaign events, at independent bookshops, and will also be sold directly at Hive.co.uk.
  • Do you need to share your worries about the Climate? Low Carbon Oxford North are running the Climate Cafe. The next session will be Sunday November 14th from 4:00-5:30pm

In love and rage,

The XR Oxford Crew

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.

COP26 Actions in Oxford

For anyone planning to go to Glasgow, please see our Going to COP26? post.

If you can only commit to one action, please come to the march on November 6th – we’re hoping it will be the biggest climate march ever in Oxford!

GLOBAL DAY OF ACTION – 6TH NOVEMBER

Global Day for Climate Justice
Nov 6
Oxford March and Rally
Saturday Nov. 6th 1pm
Assemble Manzil Way, Cowley Rd. Oxford and march to Broad St.

On 6th November, people all over the world will be coming together to demand climate justice from the COP. This will be the biggest popular demonstration on climate the world has ever seen – this a march for everyone, please get people on board!

At 1pm on Saturday 6th, people of Oxfordshire will meet at Manzil Way, Cowley Road (setting off at 1.30pm), and finish in a rally on Broad Street. The XR samba band is tipped to lead the march, and we can all provide colour with flags and banners.

Daily Outreach – 31st October – 12th November, 12-2pm.

An XR presence in the city centre every day during COP!

We’ve decided to have a daily presence at lunchtime in Cornmarket to remind the public about COP and the urgent need for decisive action on the climate. There will be no action on 6th November because of the march for climate justice.

Please just turn up if you are free. There will be banners and leaflets. We will have an A-board with a very brief daily update on what’s been happening at COP, and we’ll aim for conversations with passers by.

CALL THE ALARM – SATURDAY 30th OCTOBER, 17:30

Deep Water logo

All over the country, as part of XR’s Deep Water Rising national action, people will gather along waterways and on bridges to call out governments, fossil fuel investors and industries on their damaging greenwash tactics, and to make the link to the increased flood risk towns like ours face as a result of climate inaction. 

We will gather on the Plain, at the entrance to Cowley Place, from 17.30, with torches/candles/lanterns (it will be dusk!), flags, and chalk. We will move onto Magdalen Bridge in time for a two minutes silence at 17.58, before we call the alarm at 18.00 with pots and pans, samba drums, church bells – all things noisy! Leafleting and outreach throughout. 

Stewards and deescalators will be needed – if you can help, please contact xroxfordactions@gmail.com

Red Rebels Pilgrimage – Sunday 31st OCTOBER

In the run up to COP26, Red Rebel Brigade groups UK-wide will complete a silent, three-day relay pilgrimage by train, starting in Truro and finishing in Glasgow on day 1 of the conference.

On Sunday 31st October, Oxford Red Rebels will be bearing silent witness to the climate emergency at the Headington Shark at 9am and will travel to Oxford Train Station at 10.30am to spell out the CODE RED message of IPCC report. They will then take the train to Birmingham to pass on the ‘baton’ (a giant banner) to the Birmingham Red Rebels at 1pm.

The red rebels need guides to facilitate their movement, carry essential items, hand out flyers, and speak to the public. If you can help, please email xroxfordswallows@gmail.com.

VIGIL FOR CLIMATE – 1ST NOVEMBER, 18:00

On 1st November, to mark the beginning of the COP, we will be meeting at Carfax at 6pm for a solemn vigil to honour those, here and in the Global South, whose lives have already been lost or blighted by floods, wildfires, heatwaves and crop failure caused by global heating. 

We will begin by singing, supported by local choir the Sea Green Singers, ‘Enough is Enough’, the COP song written by Scottish folk singer Karine Polwart (see singing workshop in ‘dates for your diary’) We will then stand in reflective silence until 7pm. Some people are choosing to stay on and keep their vigil through the entire night, and others are very welcome to stay for as long as they like to support them in this. 

This is an inclusive action: please spread the word: all are welcome. 

Bring candles/torches, and wear black.

Going to COP26?

If you are thinking of travelling to Glasgow for COP26, here’s all the information you’ll need, including help for anybody whose situation might disadvantage them. If you would prefer to take action locally, we’ll be announcing our plans for local actions in and around Oxford soon.

The COP26 Plan

We’re going to focus on charging world governments with crimes against humanity. Read XR UK’s position on COP here, and check out XR Scotland’s COP26 Rebellion page.

XR Glasgow have produced a comprehensive Guide to COP26. If you’re going, we recommend reading it all, but here are some key points:

TELL OXFORD WHAT YOU ARE DOING IN GLASGOW

If you are involved in activity in Glasgow, please send pics with brief explanatory text to stevedawe@gn.apc.org for release to Oxford media. Please also provide a contact mobile number where the media can reach you. These pictures can be valuable for our website as well.

Accessibility

  • Claim up to £60 in travel costs – see the guide for full details
  • Justice Steering Group Fund – XR Justice Steering Group wants to hear from UK rebels who wouldn’t be able to participate in COP actions/disruptions because of either their social/economic/health situation. Apply here.

Events

See XR Scotland’s events here.

Deep Water Rising

Deep Water Rising 30th Oct 2021

Deep Water Rising is a global inclusive action gathering the voices of people from across the world, culminating in a global action – Call the Alarm on 30th October.

The action is rooted in folk history and accessible to everyone.

Followed by Floody Hell! Drowning in Greenwash – a Stop the Greenwash action on 31st October.

This is a great initiative reaching out to the general public to take part. There are two action packs:

Sign up for the newsletters:

All Deep Water’s social media links can be found here.

ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE

Take action on Greenwashing

Woman sitting in front of mural depicting orang-utan reaching for human hand. Caption: It's not too late - act now.

CONCERNED ABOUT THE CLIMATE AND NATURE? HERE ARE SOME POSITIVE ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE WHICH WILL MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE.

  1. Call on the government to end all new fossil fuel exploration and investment – sign these two petitions:
  2. Write to your MP telling them you want the Government to do more to tackle the climate crisis.
  3. If you have savings or investments, move your money away from banks and institutions that invest in fossil fuels.
  4. Tackling the climate and nature crisis requires government action. However, many people also want to do their bit by moving towards a lower-carbon lifestyle, and encouraging others to do the same.
    Calculate your own environmental footprint here.
    Top tips to reduce your footprint here.
  5. Find out more about Extinction Rebellion: About Us

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Climate Emergency!

  • Carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere are now 50% higher than they were before the industrial revolution, and continuing to rise. [1]
  • The last seven years have been the seven hottest years globally since records began. [2]
  • The effects of global heating are already being seen in more extreme weather all over the world – including floods in Bangladesh and the UK, wildfires in the USA and drought in South America.
  • David Attenborough recently called Climate Change “the biggest threat to security that modern humans have ever faced”, and said “If we continue on our current path, we will face the collapse of everything that gives us our security: food production, access to fresh water, habitable ambient temperature and ocean food chains.” [3]

What is the COP 26 conference?

  • The 26th United Nations ‘Framework Convention on Climate Change’, which is taking place in Glasgow in November, and is hosted by the British government.
  • Governments and expert advisers from nearly every country in the world will meet to discuss and agree a global plan to tackle the climate crisis.
  • John Kerry, the USA’s new Climate Envoy, has said COP 26 is “literally our last, best hope to get on track and to get this right” [4]

What would a successful COP 26 achieve?

  • All countries agreeing binding targets for emissions cuts which will keep global temperature rise below 1.5˚C. These targets must include big cuts in emissions over the next 10 years.
  • Rich countries (which have already emitted far more CO2) agreeing to cut carbon faster and support poorer countries financially on their journey to net zero.
  • Agreement on measures to reverse global nature loss and restore natural systems such as forests, peat moors and ocean ecosystems that can store carbon safely.

What should our government be doing NOW?

  • Showing leadership by drawing up a proper plan for reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 68% by 2030. This is the target they have committed to, but they need to ‘walk the walk’ as well as ‘talk the talk’.   
  • Make sure ALL Government legislation and policies are compatible with keeping the temperature rise to no more than 1.5˚C
  • Guarantee a fossil-free COP26 by banning fossil fuel companies and their representatives from taking part.

[1] Carbon Brief 18th March 2021 https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-uk-is-now-halfway-to-meeting-its-net-zero-emissions-target

[2] The Guardian,  14th January 2021

[3] Speech to UN Security Council, 23rd February 2021, https://youtu.be/MaweqwsN62k

[4] Speech to UN Security Council, 23rd February 2021

Reflections on the Impossible Rebellion

At this crucial moment in climate change history, it can feel like we are tackling the politically impossible. During the 2-week Impossible Rebellion in London, and under the constraints of the current pandemic, at times it really did feel impossible. However, this was an important chance to grab the headlines before this year’s COP26 talks scheduled for early November. 

Oxford rebels shared their thoughts at the recent Monthly Gathering. As with previous Rebellions, there was an astonishing level of thought, care and organisation on display, channelled into manifesting the many actions visible on the streets. But this time, instead of expending huge amounts of energy trying to hold mass camp sites and kitchens, there were smaller, transient and more focused actions, which seemed to ‘pop-up’ at key, strategically targeted locations. Not only were these impressive in their ingenuity, they also allowed rebels to ‘flow like water’ wherever we were needed, attracting rebels to transform small actions into occupations, and then expand into marches to flood the London streets. There seemed fewer rebels on the streets than previously (it was an impossible rebellion after all) but Rebels were glad to see the steady flow of actions maintained throughout the full 2 weeks and praised the much greater diversity of participating group alliances.

Pink table in London. Credit: Deborah Gill

The Rebellion kicked off with the striking symbolism of the giant Pink Table providing a centrepiece image for the newspapers and powerful message to ‘bring everyone to the Table’. It was pleasing to see greater diversity of speakers from different ethnic backgrounds and participation of groups from climate-affected communities – an opportunity for us all to learn more. Assembling new alliances attracts other groups who are supportive of general XR principles but also have their own specific concerns and perspectives. 

Illustration by Imogen Foxell
[Original drawing: Imogen Foxell]

Although Rebels thought that the Rebellion was generally covered poorly by the mainstream media, the Pink Table and Chairs generated much discussion on the streets and yield some early media coverage with both sympathetic (Guardian, Channel 4) and reflective (Financial Times, LBC, Radio 4 Women’s Hour) analysis. The invitation welcomed all to ‘Come to the Table’ and Rebels appreciated the genuinely more friendly and willing to engage than previous Rebellions. Perhaps XR is viewed as less of a fringe group and more of an organisation highlighting what people already see (or don’t see) in the news.

The unique XR brand of creativity provided some powerful images. XR Oxford and the South East was involved in the Greenwashing action in Parliament Square. Greenwashing is a crucial message, because it is so insidious that we are all largely ‘brainwashed’ into thinking/hoping that our leaders are doing something to tackle the climate emergency.

Photo of child holding a "Greenwashing powder" box. Credit: Feng Ho.
Row of rebels wearing green shirts spelling out "Greenwash". Credit: Suzanne Williams

The smaller, more solemn actions were much appreciated, such as when Oxford Rebels dressed in funeral black joined the Pram Rebellion in Parliament Square, as a sad reminder of the perilous future for families everywhere.

Rebels dressed in black holding ghostly white buggies. Credit: Suzanne Williams

The solemnity of the meditators was also a powerful presence at the local action outside Barclays Bank in Oxford. During outreach, the public wanted to know more, a reminder to include more specific information in our leaflets to pass onto the public in future actions.

Meditators in front of Barclays Bank, with a sign saying "This bank funds climate chaos". Credit: Raia Browning.

The solemnity, reflecting our serious message, was in stark contrast to the colourful carnival march through London on the final day, which some Rebels thought might be perceived as too much jollity. Although attracting attention from legions of photographers, perhaps these actions risk sending a mixed message.

Although Rebels were generally inspired, there was also a strong desire for Rebels to improve XR’s visibility on the streets with more local actions. After the energising highs of the Rebellion we must remember to reflect, regenerate, and re-group to welcome new rebels and also to plan how we go forward.