XR Oxford takes to the streets to highlight how the richest are destroying our planet 

Today Oxford Extinction Rebellion was on Cornmarket Street protesting the fact that the richest 1% in the world produce as much carbon pollution as the poorest two-thirds.

The Cornmarket Street action included speeches and drumming, and colourful flags and banners. XR members talked with many passers-by, who also took part in a survey which asked for people’s reaction to this extreme inequality, and for their suggestions for realistic and fair solutions. The group unveiled a graph showing how greenhouse gas emissions are heavily concentrated amongst the wealthiest. Ironically this graph forms the shape of a champagne coupe. 

The richest in society are super-charging climate breakdown through: 

  1.  their extravagant lifestyles (e.g. use of private jets) 
  2.  their investments in fossil fuels and polluting industries
  3.  their influence on politics and the media

XR member Dr Ines Smyth (75, local resident) said: ‘While ordinary people are doing their best to reduce carbon emissions, the super-rich are doing whatever they like. In the UK a person in the richest 1% emits in one year the amount of CO2 that those in the lowest income bracket would take 26 years to generate. How is this fair when the poorest lack the means to counter both the effects of climate change and of inequality?’

Not only are the richest contributing to the planet’s destruction; they are also avoiding the worst effects of climate change. Over 90% of deaths from climate related disasters in the last 50 years were in the poorer countries of the Global South. Even in the UK, people on lower incomes are often worse affected by heatwaves and flooding. 

XR member Dr Daniela Tramonti (51, local resident) said: ‘We urgently need higher taxes on the super-rich and on polluting companies, and financial support for the most affected countries. We also need investment in green energy and industries to support a fast and fair transition away from planet-wrecking fossil fuels.’

Lisa Barresi, an Oxford resident who spoke to the group, said: ‘I was shocked to see how the most privileged in society are wrecking things for the rest of us. It made me want to get involved in changing things for the better.’

Note: All quoted stats come from the Oxfam Climate Equality Report

Campaigning for complete divestment at the Oxfordshire Pension Fund

Guest post by Fossil Free Oxfordshire

It has been another year of local floods, escalating climate-related disasters abroad and record breaking global temperatures, and yet fossil fuel companies still explore for new reserves of coal, oil and gas. Wiltshire Council and the Church of England are among many large scale institutions to have recognised the madness of fossil fuel investments and committed to divest.      

Fossil Free Oxfordshire has been campaigning for the past 10 years for the complete divestment of the Oxfordshire local government pension fund from fossil fuels. The Oxfordshire County Council Pension Fund Committee, which acts as trustees of the fund, is composed of county councillors. The committee has recently changed to include new Green and Labour councillors from Oxford.  This is a good time to lobby the pension fund committee to reach our divestment goal.  Can you help us by lobbying the committee members?

You could help out by simply emailing the councillors listed in the table below, or, if you are a constituent of one, by arranging a meeting with the councillor or helping us organize a meeting with them. We will support you in all of these activities (for example accompanying you to a meeting).

We have enclosed a template text for your email at the end of this message. We encourage you to change it and use your own words. (The template requests a meeting which might not be appropriate for you.)

If you send an email please cc and forward replies to Andrew Finney on andrewmartinfinney@gmail.com.  It would be helpful if you could tell Andrew if you live in the ward of one of the councillors listed below or if you manage to arrange a meeting, especially if you would like support to prepare for it, or for one of us to come along with you.

If you are unsure whether you are a constituent of one of the councillors you can check using https://www.writetothem.com/.  It does not matter if you live outside these wards: the more people involved the better! Feel free to write to all the Committee members.

Please contact Andrew if you have any questions or insights.

NamePartyWardEmail address
Bob JohnstonLiberal DemocratKennington & Radleybob.johnston@oxfordshire.gov.uk
Imade EdosomwanLabourLeys, Oxfordimadeuzoma.edosomwan@oxfordshire.gov.uk
Ian MiddletonGreenKidlington Southian.middleton@oxfordshire.gov.uk
Michael O’ConnorLabourUniversity Parks, Oxfordmichael.oconnor@oxfordshire.gov.uk
John HowsonLiberal DemocratSt Margaret’s, Oxfordjohn.howson@oxfordshire.gov.uk

Email Template

Subject: Divesting the Oxfordshire Local Government Pension Scheme

Dear Councillor <Name>,

We have recently experienced local floods and an escalation in international climate-related disasters as a result of burning fossil fuels. We have already exceeded 1.5C degrees warming.  As a result I believe it is incumbent on all elected politicians to do their utmost to tackle this issue.  Your role on Oxfordshire Pension Fund Committee is a major opportunity to play your part.

Whilst there has been some progress to decarbonize the Oxfordshire Pension Fund (OPF) the changes are not occurring at a fast enough pace.  I believe a public commitment to divest the OPF from fossil fuel producers backed by asset reallocation on a 2 year time scale would be more commensurate with the scale and urgency of the climate crisis.  

The OPF has argued that divestment does not bring about change in the wider economy.  Is a policy that does not target the core drivers of climate change – the fossil fuel industry – and ignores the opportunity to make an influential public declaration really the most effective one?  The OPF has also argued that divestment ends the ability to engage with the fossil fuel sector. However, many years of engagement have failed to change the operations of the fossil fuel majors who continue investment in exploration and production in defiance of the recommendations of scientists and even the International Energy Agency.  Major investors such as the Church of England and the PFZW, the pension fund for workers in the Dutch healthcare and welfare sector have decided that engagement is not working and are divesting from Fossil Fuels.

Now is not the time for empty commitments. Effective policy changes to address climate change over the next 2 years at OPF must include the following.

  • The reallocation of funds away from the Global High Alpha fund which contains significant investments in fossil fuel majors.
  • The acceleration of the transition to a FTSE250 fund for UK equities.
  • The adoption of exclusion criteria for Fossil Fuel producers as part of all fund management.

We appreciate the work you are already doing as a member of the Pension Fund Committee.  It is a role with significant responsibility and little recognition.  We are asking that you take time to consider the wider context and the impact that the OPF will have on global heating both in our local community and globally and take action.

I would really like to meet you to discuss this further.  Could we meet online or in person in the next few weeks?

Yours,

<your name>
<your town>
<your postcode>

End Fossil Fuels – 15th-17th September

XR Oxford is taking part in the Global Fight to End Fossil Fuels next weekend in a series of actions in Oxford and London.

Friday 15th September

Outside HSBC, 12-2pm, come and be part of a national action aimed primarily against HSBC funding for fossil fuels. We will have HSBC stickers from XR UK, leaflets explaining their involvement in fossil fuel funding and our Barclays leaflets. Do come and help with outreach, handing leaflets to passersby and talking to them about the climate emergency and fossil fuels. Ask them to use the QR code for more information about what they can do, and how to sign up to XR Oxford. The more rebels the better.

We are also encouraging people to join a Climate Strike organised by an amazing young activist at Bonn Square, 9am. If you plan to join, please let us know so that we can pass on the message.

Saturday 16th September

Oxford rebels will be joining the march in London,12-2pm, Grosvenor Gardens. This will be a family-friendly march – bring placards and banners. Join the Telegram group here.

For those who can’t make it to London:

  • Outreach in Cornmarket, 1-3pm, talking to the public, and giving them posters they can display at home. If you can help with the outreach, please sign up to the rota – or just turn up on the day.
  • Alongside this, a families action, sitting in a circle with placards, as part of the global Mothers Rebellion (Cornmarket, 2-3pm).
  • After this, people are warmly invited to go on to the screening of ‘Walking on Thin Ice’ at the Phoenix Picturehouse at 3.30pm (tickets), which will be followed by a panel discussion, and a walk in Port Meadow.

Sunday 17th September

Mothers Rebellion will be back in London, 11:30am-1pm at the Science Museum (Facebook event). All peaceful protestors welcome – this action is inclusive for all those who care about children’s future in a time of climate chaos regardless of age, gender or whether they have children of their own.

Please join us for one or more of these actions, and amplify the message: Fossil fuel exploitation must end now.

Voices from The Big One

March for Nature of 60,000+ people.
Finishing with a die-in at Parliament Square. Photos: Feng Ho

Last weekend Extinction Rebellion hosted “The Big One” in London, at which there were over 200 groups (a real mix of environmental, cost of living crisis, health, equality and social groups and workers unions).

A group of people hold a colourful banner reading:
Greenpeace
Oxfordshire United for Climate Justice
Oxfordshire Greenpeace joins the march on Saturday

The police estimated 95,000 people marched for biodiversity and stopping new fossil fuels, all the major government departments were picketed, marathon runners were cheered on, and many conversations were had exchanging ideas and solutions, but no arrests were made, and no disruption was caused – so it didn’t make the news.

Many people were there from Oxford though and here’s why.

Megan Murray-Pepper, middle, at the Department for Education
MP for Oxford East, Anneliese Dodds, came out of Parliament to listen to her constituents at the DfE.

At the Department of Education Megan Murray-Pepper, secondary school English teacher from North Oxford, said “For me The Big One was all about demonstrating the widespread public demand for greater action on the climate and ecological crisis. I’m a mother and teacher and I’m so worried about the impoverished world our children are set to inherit – nature in decline, emissions rising, rampant inequality. But we have a choice about what the future could look like. I was among teachers and educators from all around the country asking the Department for Education for some real action. What if we reimagined our curriculum to equip children with the knowledge, skills and values they will need for the future? How can schools properly safeguard pupils in the face of climate breakdown and foster a world in which they will be able to thrive as adults? The current strategy from DfE falls so far short of addressing these urgent questions. During The Big One it was really inspiring to take part in a programme of ‘street lessons’ offering bold and imaginative possibilities for the future of education. Our children need and deserve this.”

“What an incredible experience to be part of a crowd of 60,000 people of all ages, drawn together by their shared love of the natural world – and deep concern at its destruction. Myrtle the turtle is a green sea turtle, endangered like so many of her kin, by sea pollution, overfishing and warming of the oceans – in other words, the wrecking of her home.” – Suzanne

Suzanne with Myrtle the Turtle

We went with Oxford Climate Choir to London on 21st April, to join Climate Choirs from Bristol, Bath, Brighton, Sheffield, Southampton and London. We were there when 300 singers were joined by thousands of others marching down Whitehall on the 21st. Rehearsed singers led the singing and those carried along in this particular ‘Wave’ added their voices at will.

Singing with such an enormous choir was inspiring and joyful. The glorious sound we made bounced off large buildings and could be heard along other roads. There were smiles, cheers and applause from activists and the public, along with the very British response of ‘we can’t see you doing this embarrassing thing, so we are not really here.’

Comments on our video posts include “So beautiful – really tears at my heart every time.” “This was such a beautiful moment which made my heart swell with joy.”

The Climate Choir movement also had congratulations from Gail Bradbrook: “Massive huge well-done, Jo (Climate choir founder). ‘Beware the revolution that sings.’ So important…beautiful…Thank you”

Climate Choirs offer a dramatic form of outreach with great potential to really make our presence felt. Lot of photos and filming occurred in London which then spread in social media.

Contact Oxford’s XR singers at: hazeldawe5@gmail.com


Hazel and Steve Dawe
Abha Jeurkar, researcher on issues of education and child rights

“I was there for The Big One for all the billions of people in the global south whose lives are being massively disrupted by the climate crisis, may it be the floods in Pakistan or the famine and hunger crisis in East Africa. As I find myself in the privileged situation of being in the UK, I am very aware of my personal levels of consumption – I heat my home and most fruits and vegetables in the grocery store are imported. My best personal efforts of reducing consumption always fall short of the mark. But I think that it is better to be a hypocrite and engage in collective action to make the system better than to be a hypocrite and not do much.” – Abha

“I went to London over the weekend to support the coalition of peaceful groups that have come together at this critical time in our planet’s history to demand the UK government stop issuing new oil and gas licences. It was deeply moving to find so many wonderful, caring individuals from every walk of life voicing their opposition. Many had never been on a march before. Everyone was expressing alarm at the planetary damage and biodiversity loss that worsens year on year despite the starkest of warnings and the succession of scientific advisory reports. There was a strong sense that, for everyone who cares, now is the time to step forward and work together to ensure the government acts.”

Miranda Lewis, editor

 “I was at The Big One because I’ve heard so many times lately that we have all the solutions, all the technology we need to get ourselves out of the mess we’re in with the climate. We know what we need to do, all that’s missing is the political will to do it. I was in London to try to generate that political will for change, by showing those in power how many people really desperately want it.”

April Jones, full-time mum
April and Teresa among stewards from Oxford keeping the march safe

“I went down to London because I wanted to be alongside many thousands of others to deliver a strong message to our government. During the Covid pandemic we were always being told to trust the scientists. Yet, just a few weeks ago more than 700 scientists warned our Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, that there must be no new developments of oil and gas if we are to maintain a sustainable and liveable future for all. Why is our government choosing not to listen to the scientists on this, the biggest threat that humanity has ever faced? It felt so inspiring to be in London and to realise that ordinary people do care deeply about the climate emergency. The cost-of-living crisis is directly linked to the climate crisis, and I really hope that people now will begin to demand change before it is too late.”

Teresa Garlake, writer/editor

“I was at the Big One stewarding for the full 4 days. Talking incessantly to people on the streets has made me realise how many are truly afraid of what really the climate crisis means. With some exceptions (like a young man who said he ‘would die’ rather than take one of our leaflets) most felt relieved to have found so many people with the same concerns and the desire for radical change. I am proud to have contributed to events which are bound to mark a new start in strengthening our alliances and creating a stronger movement to stop fossil fuel, to halt the destruction of nature in all its forms, and tackle social and climate justice across the world.” – Ines

Ines Smyth, humanitarian worker

“I joined a little XR group in Gloucester Green heading for Victoria on a damp and chilly Friday morning. Soon enough we were getting off into an even greyer and damper London. Walking towards Westminster, our first sign of XR activity was a cheery crowd of medics – the air blue with their flags. And then we heard the unmistakeable sound of a full-on XR gathering – our destination: the Department for Education. Wow! So many people and so many old friends to greet. Standout number 1 for me was being mere feet away from Zack Polanski, deputy leader of the Green Party. I’d heard him speak before, and here he was again, speaking truth to power with the strength and clarity we have come to expect from him. A worthy successor to Caroline Lucas? I think so. Then on to my standout number 2. Whitehall with the biggest contingent of red rebels I’d ever seen, followed with equal dignity, by the – reds-plus-high viz- ‘no more airport expansion’ group – and then the XR choirs, singing their hearts out on their way down from their rehearsal point in Trafalgar Square. So moving…I felt so proud and so glad to be there.”

Caroline Roaf
Zack Polanski, deputy leader of the Green Party, outside the DfE
“Discobedience” – dancing in protest! Photos: Suzanne Williams

“I’ve never been on any kind of protest before this, and wasn’t really sure what to expect. Initially I felt somewhat underwhelmed. We were there by 9.30 with not many others around. As the day went on and we picketed DfE, and went to 55 Tufton St more people were around…a sense of something bigger/more was developing. The highlight was discobedience and people’s passion.”

Pen Thompson

Article: Jessica Upton and the Media & Messaging team

The Emperors speak out

A woman waves a pink XR flag in front of the Sheldonian in Oxford. The famous heads have been given speech bubbles reading
"Heading for Extinction"
"Not on my watch"
"Do SOMETHING!"
A banner is attached to the railings reading:
"April 21-24 Parliament Square Be There!"

On 1st April the famous Emperors’ Heads that sit outside the Sheldonian delivered a powerful message on the climate and ecological emergency.

Local members of Extinction Rebellion gave three Emperors words and used these as the starting point for hundreds of conversations with people on Broad Street. Hundreds of photos were taken (and hopefully shared!) by those who passed, and over a thousand leaflets calling on people to join The Big One, were given to those who were interested. 

The XR Rhythms band, a short distance away, kept everyone entertained and drew people’s attention to what was going on. One activist, Abhi, said “It felt so good to be a part of this action. It reinforced my faith in Extinction Rebellion’s long-standing strategy of making a festival out of a rebellion”. 

A man wearing an XR sticker hands out leaflets reading "It's time to get to work"

Despite the light-hearted atmosphere, the message behind this action was a serious one. The climate crisis and the cost-of-living crisis that are causing so much suffering for so many share the same root cause. Those in power are not prepared to put in place the changes that are desperately needed. People deserve a planet that is not destroyed by a lack of political willpower, and time is running out. That is why people making their voices heard at The Big One is so important.

If the enthusiasm of passers-by is any sort of indication, numbers heading to London on 21 – 24 April will be very big indeed!

Get ready for The Big One

Since the 100 Days campaign began on 11 January, XR Oxford has held eight outreach stalls, hosted a film screening, organised a town-centre talk, called all 289 numbers in our Rebel Ringing campaign, had three pub socials, and held singing, art, drumming and outreach workshops. It’s all in aid of generating enthusiasm and signups for The Big One, XR’s grandest mass mobilisation effort, happening 21st-24th April at the Houses of Parliament.

how are we doing?

So far, 300 of XR Oxford have signed up to the ticker – this is great, but we think we should be able to bring many more. If you are intending to be there at all in April, please sign up here to let us, and the action planners, know. Signup is faster than an emissions-exacerbated flash flood.

What more can we do?

  • The single most important thing any of us can likely do is invite our family and friends to come. The event is designedly inclusive and facilitated by the police, so there is no risk of arrest. People are welcome to join on whichever day(s) suit them. For all who care about climate, this is an excellent opportunity to join with others and have their voice heard.
  • We have many leaflets advertising The Big One. If you have anywhere you could distribute some, or are interested in leafleting of cafes, museums, community centres etc, get in touch at xroxfordcoordinator@gmail.com.
  • You can invite groups (allotment groups, green groups, theatre groups – any group you are part of that shares our values) to our Oxford Open Call on 21 March. Feel free to use this invitation template, and check which groups have already been invited here via this spreadsheet.

What’s going to happen?

We now know The Big One will have a 4-4-4 structure: four days of workshops and preparation (17-20 April), followed by four days of protest (21-24 April), ending in four days of reflection and future planning (25-28 April). The middle four days are currently the most well outlined. On the Friday and Monday, the protests will (peacefully and theatrically) target government departments located near the Houses of Parliament. On the Saturday – Earth Day – there will be a spectacular biodiversity procession and die-in (props and costumes very welcome). The Sunday action will centre on themes of participation and democracy, featuring a march in the evening. There is still an awful lot of work in progress while the action planners continue their fantastic efforts in navigating the tensions between inclusivity and impact.

How will I fit in?

Actions wanted
Local groups are invited to choose the department they’d like to target for action on the Monday and Friday. XR Oxford Actions Circle will meet at 7.30pm Thursday 16th March to partly to discuss this. To join, get in touch at xroxfordactions@gmail.com.

Volunteers wanted
Volunteers for support roles at The Big One are tremendously helpful and appreciated. Bringing in big numbers means a massive need for stewards – up to 1000! Even if you could only manage one or two shifts, it would make a huge difference. Full training is given. For more info, see here.

Accomodation provided
XRUK is organising some camping and some indoor accommodation. If you’re interested in this, it is really important to let them know as soon as possible so that they can predict the demand. Links to sign up are in the rebel toolkit.

Transport provided
XR Oxford is organising a coach from Oxford to London and back on Friday 21st, and are hoping costs can be subsidised – more info to come. Otherwise, travel to The Big One from Oxford is possible via the Oxford Tube coach or the train (strikes permitting). Affinity groups might arrange to travel together.

Financial support provided
As usual, we will have some funds to ensure no one is prevented from attending due to financial hardship. Details on how to claim will follow soon.

Donations wanted
Big events like this do not come about through goodwill alone, and XRUK desperately needs funds to make this work. You can donate to The Big One here.

Update by April Jones

Reminding the council to stop banking with Barclays – in song

When we discovered that Oxford City Council, in spite of having declared a climate emergency, continues to bank with Barclays – Europe’s biggest funder of fossil fuels – we decided to take action.

Last autumn, rebels marched to Oxford Town Hall and handed over a letter asking the Council to move its account. In response, the Council laughably claimed that Barclays was the ‘most ethical’ of the banks who had tendered from the account. Not good enough, we decided, especially now that at least one competitor in the Local Authorities banking market (Lloyds) has since committed to ending new fossil fuel investment.

So, local rebel Jenny Stanton put forward a formal question to the City Council, which she then delivered in person at their meeting on 30th January. She requested that they put their account out to tender with the requirement of no direct investment in fossil fuels, and to let Barclays know that the reason for retendering their account is the bank’s extensive funding of fossil fuels.

Sadly, the councillor who replied merely repeated the Council’s claim that Barclays scored joint highest among tendering banks in relation to social and ethical policies and insisted that the Council engages with Barclays on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) matters.

So, when the Lord Mayor attempted to move on to the next agenda item, several rebels in the gallery unfolded a familiar banner, and burst into singing; “We’re here to say, don’t bank with Barclays. Find a better bank and do it today.”

The Lord Mayor repeatedly asked us to stop, with a fervor better directed toward unfulfilled emergency declarations. We left on our own terms, still singing, and to applause from many of the councillors. On our way we met two security guards approaching from the other direction, presumably en route to throw us out.

Fortunately our action garnered an instant response from councillor Anna Railton, now cabinet member for Zero Carbon Oxford and Climate Justice, who is keen to move the Council’s account from Barclays and asked us for help researching alternatives. Unfortunately, it is true that not many banks offer accounts to local councils – and none of them are really ethical – but we hope we can persuade them there is a better option than Europe’s worst. In the meantime, we will be requesting the Council pressures Barclays to follow other big banks in moving away from fossil fuels.

Our action was covered by Oxford Mail.

Written by Jo Gill and Hazel Dawe, edited by Tyson Jones, photos by Feng.

Dirty Water

On 28th January, as part of a national campaign, XR Oxford joined with many other groups across the county to highlight the government’s disgraceful inaction on sewage pollution in our waterways, unveiling ‘blue plaques’ commemorating the voting down in October 2021 of an amendment that would have required water companies to clean up their act. Many other Oxfordshire groups took part in the action, targeting specific MPs who had voted against the amendment. 

In Oxford, we gathered at noon at the Wolvercote Mill Stream official bathing site, downstream of the Witney’s Sewage Treatment Works, and which has since been demonstrated as unsafe for swimming. After a performance of Trev Williams’ ‘Brown River’, speeches from councillors and campaigners, and an arresting appearance from the Red Rebels, a new plaque was unveiled.

Because feelings on this issue run high, interest in the action was strong: there was a very good turnout, and we made links with a lot of groups we had not connected with much before, particularly wild swimmers and water pollution campaigners, who were glad to see us keeping up the pressure on the government. We took the opportunity to invite them to join us in holding the government to account, on this issue and so many others, in London in April.

Importantly, this is just the first of the Dirty Water ‘waves’. Wave Two, focusing on the water companies themselves, will be coming in mid-March, and we will build then on the connections we’ve made for an even bigger and bolder action.

Written by April Jones, edited by Tyson Jones, with photos by Kim, C S and Kitkat

Demonstration and two weeks of action for the climate

Extinction Rebellion Oxford is staging two weeks of actions from 7th to 18th November, 12 noon to 2pm each weekday on the Cornmarket, Oxford. These activities are to draw public attention to the 27th Global Climate Conference (COP27), being held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. In addition, an action with speeches, drumming and songs starting from the Cornmarket on Saturday 12th November at 12.00 noon will form part of the day of Global Action on the Climate, along with events happening around the world.

Hazel Dawe comments:

“Our action on 12th November, starting from the Cornmarket in Oxford at 12.00 noon, coincides with a national demonstration in London and similar events on the Climate Emergency around the world. The 27th Climate conference is an opportunity to correct the failure of governments globally to cut greenhouse gas emissions globally since the early 1990s. These conferences have not prevented carbon dioxide in our atmosphere increasing by over 60%, and other greenhouse gases, particularly methane, also increasing.

The UK Government’s Committee on Climate Change, has repeatedly warned our Government that it’s plans are not sufficient to meet its own Climate objectives. Just as bad, the Government has recently failed to meet its own deadlines for water improvements and environmental goals. As the UK is the most nature-depleted country in the world, and clean water leakage and sewage dumping has not been stopped by the Government, the lack of any sense of urgency concerning either Climate or ecological emergencies in Westminster is quite astonishing. We should all take whatever action we can to alert our elected representatives to their responsibilities for a liveable environment for all species, and for our own children.”

A Weekend of Resistance

London has been buzzing with energetic climate activists throughout the month of October, with conversation around the climate emergency again gathering steam. Despite the unfortunate cancellation of the ‘Festival of Resistance’ scheduled in September due to the passing of the monarch, Extinction Rebellion was back with new plans for continuing action in October. Activists from around the country gathered in London for a ‘Weekend of Resistance’ from 14th to 16th of October, joined by a number of Oxford Rebels.

Trafalgar Square was humming with demonstrators on the 14th, who then marched to Downing Street for a sit-in protest. The government at the helm was crumbling away, but in stark contrast, the people gathered outside Number 10 were in steadfast solidarity and commitment to the cause. Several rebels defiantly burnt their energy bills, underscoring the connection between the cost of living crisis and the climate crisis.

Teresa, an Oxford Rebel, in her passionate appeal to the crowd said, “We are facing the collapse of all nature and humanity, and I can’t be a bystander to that. Every person here needs to step up and take it beyond here to all our friends and everyone we know. We want people to be on these streets again on the 21st of April, 2023”. The day ended with people’s assemblies to deliberate on how we can stay resilient as we gather in huge numbers throughout April in London.

The next stop was the Tate Modern on the 15th, where crowds gathered to hear from journalists, poets, organisers from a diverse range of movements, musicians, and a variety of performers. There were colourful outreach tents that distributed reading materials, pamphlets and stickers, and where many of the public flocked to engage rebels in conversations around the climate crisis and XR’s plans for April 2023. Meanwhile the samba band travelled through the area and energised the ambience.

“Seeing so many different people in the larger ecosystem of the climate movement was very encouraging. Especially when the goals of the climate action as well as the particular goals of XR for the April rebellion are so audacious, it requires a constant renewal of energy to keep going. Events like this really give a boost of fresh energy to the people”, said Abhi, an Oxford Rebel participating in the day’s events.

The 16th was the day of the Youth March, set in motion with regenerative activities. Though such events can often get sidelined in the rush to plan and implement actions, they are felt to be immensely valuable. The march proceeded through beautiful, leafy parks with flags shining in the sun, children and young people leading, and with many families throughout the crowd. The festive atmosphere was carried through to the central parks at Westminster, where young rebels planted an oak sapling in the middle of Parliament Square, and protected it the sapling for many hours. Even though the sapling was not allowed to grow on that spot, it symbolised the vision of the protest.

Ines said, “Having so many young people and children in the march made it more tangible to see why it is so important to continue demanding the end of fossil fuels and more drastic changes. I was very impressed by the composure and confidence with which the youth spoke and acted, considering how much more they stand to lose than us older people if action on the climate emergency continues to be so inadequate”.

The words of XR Oxford’s Cathy Allen ring true; “Global solidarity makes sense for everyone. For us in the global north, we feel the strength and passion of those fighting at ground zero of extractivism and climate impacts. For our sisters and brothers in the global south, we in the north can take their voices to the centres of the system – the companies, the financial institution, the governments. And for all of us fighting the system wherever we are, solidarity makes us less lonely and our fight more meaningful.”

Written by Abha Jeurkar, edited by Tyson Jones, with photos by Suzanne Williams