The Death of Heathrow’s Third Runway Sends a Clear Message Ahead of Cop26

The landmark high court judgment will resound around the world and show Britain can lead in tackling the climate crisis

An Extinction Rebellion protest outside Heathrow airport, April 2019. Photograph: Simon Dawson/Reuters

By some strange quirk of fate, it is exactly 12 years to the day since I, alongside fellow climate activists, climbed on to the roof of the House of Commons to protest against plans for a third runway at Heathrow. Today’s high court judgment is a vindication of everything climate activists have been saying for more than a decade: Britain cannot honour its national commitment to tackle climate change at the same time as building a new runway at one of the busiest airports in the world.

To be precise, the court did not quite say this. It ruled that ministers’ failure to take the UK’s climate change commitments into account rendered the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) – which effectively gave the green light to a third runway – unlawful. In order to be lawful, the ANPS would have to be rewritten to include a credible plan for squaring expansion with our commitment under the Paris Agreement to seek to limit global temperature rise to no more than 1.5C. The court was careful to clarify that it has no opinion on whether or not this is possible.

As someone who has been fighting these plans for 15 years I can confirm that it isn’t. If the third runway is built, there are only three possible outcomes: either we will fail on climate change; or we will have to constrain capacity elsewhere, roughly equivalent to closing Manchester airport; or we simply won’t be able to use the new runway at Heathrow, making it one of the most expensive white elephants in history.

It is difficult to overstate the significance of this decision. Heathrow airport is a bastion of the global fossil fuel economy, so the symbolism alone of this defeat will resonate loudly around the world, giving courage to the movement fighting for a livable future – while striking fear in the hearts of the corporate fossil interests still determined to profit while the planet burns. It also sends a clear and timely message in advance of the UK hosting the most important UN climate summit since Paris, Cop26: Britain is prepared to lead the world in tackling the climate crisis. Scrapping Heathrow expansion is a surprise gift to climate diplomacy.

But the mechanics of this decision could be even more important for the climate struggle. A British court has ruled, quite sensibly, that domestic policy decisions must be assessed against their impact on the UK’s ability to fulfil commitments under the Paris Agreement. The British judicial system remains incredibly influential globally, with courts around the world modelled on our own, so this means any high-carbon infrastructure project – from motorways to fracking wells to coal-fired power plants – could potentially now be blocked as unlawful in any of the 195 countries that are signatories to the Paris Agreement.

So what happens next? Well, the airport will appeal, but it will lose – because the argument is unwinnable. Expanding Heathrow will have no positive impact on the UK’s economy. Pressure to expand Heathrow has nothing to do with increasing the number of international business flights, which are in sustained decline across all of London’s airports. In reality, the industry’s push for expansion is overwhelmingly about handling ever more international transfer passengers, alongside more and more outbound leisure flights by wealthy frequent flyers from London and the south-east. These are all journeys that cost the UK money rather than bringing it in. My own suspicion is that it may not even get as far as an appeal, as Heathrow’s investors will now get cold feet and find excuses to withdraw from the project. The third runway is dead, and cannot be resuscitated.

More widely, today’s judgment marks a turning point in the climate struggle. It looks like the beginning of the British state taking the implications of the climate emergency as seriously as its citizens have now begun to. For UK air travel, this means there is turbulence ahead. We can no longer muddle on with the pretence that ever-increasing demand for flights can be met while also reducing emissions down to zero. The uniquely generous tax breaks that have kept air travel artificially cheap must end, but if the climate movement wants to maintain the support of the wider public, we must do this in the fairest way possible. That means bringing in a frequent flyer levy, which would protect access to some air travel for all, regardless of income, while still keeping aviation emissions within safe limits for the climate. Whether Boris Johnson’s government has the stomach for this kind of medicine remains to be seen. SOURCE

Extinction Rebellion protesters glue themselves to police vans as tensions rise

Extinction Rebellion protesters have glued themselves to police vans as tensions rise at the Schlumberger building in Cambridge.

The action comes on the third day of the week-long ‘Rebel for Justice’ action, which is primarily based around the blockade at Trumpington Road and The Fen Causeway, however there are satellite protests happening alongside.

One of these is targeted at the Schlumberger Gould Research Centre in Cambridge – also known as the ‘tent building’ due to its appearance.

Protesters marched down toward the building to the beat of their drums before settling in, starting a drum circle, and gluing themselves to the revolving glass doors.

One protester spray painted ‘Ecocide’ in bright yellow on the glass front of the building and was later taken away by police and put in the back of a police van.

In response, one Extinction Rebellion protester decided to superglue herself to the bonnet of the police van.

Annie Rose told reporters: “I’ve glued myself to this police van because one of my fellow rebels was arrested for doing something that I believe, that I know she believes, we all believe was the morally right thing to do.” SOURCE

XR: the case for deliberative democracy

Climate Assembly UK begins this weekend. It’s a good start, says Alex Bradbury, but does not meet XR’s third demand for a Government-commissioned Citizens’ Assembly

Image by Lambeth XR.

‘Extinction Rebellion needs to find ways of reaching the people who think we’re some sort of weird cult.’

This remark, made by a member of the Extinction Rebellion (XR) Citizens’ Assembly Working Group, is met by a spontaneous flurry of jazz hands from everyone in the small Kings College London meeting room. No, we’re not all frustrated musical theatre performers; waving ‘jazz hands’ are used in XR, and other activist groups, to express agreement during a group discussion. I can’t resist pointing out the irony of our reaction – we’re all agreeing we need to be less cult-like by raising our hands in unison and waving them about. Everyone laughs, but it strikes me that this points to a deeper challenge in our work.

There are people who feel excluded by XR’s culture, but the democratic process we want to promote aims at radical inclusion. After all, we’re calling on the government to create and be led by a Citizens’ Assembly on Climate and Ecological Justice – a process that would put national decision-making in the hands of ordinary people from all walks of life. So it seems to me that reaching more people is actually about making a better case for something we are already calling for.

Most people with only a passing acquaintance of XR know that we are calling on the government to firstly declare an emergency, and secondly to halt biodiversity loss and reach net zero emissions by 2025. But many don’t know much about our demand for a Citizens’ Assembly. This is a randomly selected group of people from across the UK who will learn in-depth about the climate and ecological emergency, work through their differences, and determine how we get to net zero greenhouse gas emissions in a socially just way.

Perhaps the most well-known examples of Citizens’ Assemblies are those that took place in Ireland in recent years. They paved the way for long-overdue reforms on topics such as abortion, gay marriage and even climate change. But there is also a large-scale assembly on climate with unprecedented powers taking place in France right now – initiated by President Macron in the wake of the Yellow Vest protests. In fact, there’s been a global groundswell of interest around deliberative democracy over the past couple of decades. From Australia to Poland, groups of randomly selected residents have been helping determine policy for years.

Democracy beyond the ballot box

Academics, activists and even some politicians are cottoning on to the idea that democracy doesn’t have to stop at the ballot box. But they face an uphill struggle in convincing the wider population. A 2018 Pew Center survey conducted across 27 countries found that 51 per cent of people were dissatisfied with how democracy was working in their country. People still firmly believe in the idea of democracy – the trouble is, we usually have quite a narrow experience of what that can mean in practice. For most, it starts and ends with elections.

We’re trapped: we don’t like the system we currently have, but we have trouble imagining anything beyond it. This is where Citizens’ Assemblies come in; they directly address some of the limitations of electoral politics.

Although we call it representative democracy, our parliament is far from representative demographically. Only 34 per cent of MPs are women, as opposed to 51 per cent in the population at large. For ethnic minorities, the figures are 10 per cent and 16 percent respectively. What’s more, elections incentivise politicians to focus on issues that will help them get re-elected. This means thorny decisions in areas such as climate change are more likely to be kicked into the long grass. MORE

George Monbiot on the unholy trinity of ideologies trashing our planet

Is another form of capitalism possible? And can new social movements like Extinction Rebellion escape the ideologies that pervade our lives?

Campaigner and journalist George Monbiot

Campaigner and journalist George Monbiot.  John Russell/Flickr, CC 2.0

 

If you get into debt buying your child branded trainers, if you fear redundancy, if you suffer anxiety about the future of the planet and you blame yourself for all of these things then you are showing symptoms of drowning in the “insidious” and “sinister” ideology of neoliberalism.

The escalating environmental and social crises that confronted us – climate breakdown, collapse in biodiversity, the threat of war – are all failures of a worldview that puts profit making, the markets and economic growth ahead of human happiness. This is George Monbiot’s prognosis.

The journalist and campaigner will be speaking at a three-hour special event at the Gillian Lynne Theatre in London on 11 February 2020 under the title The Invisible Ideology Trashing Our Planet. The tour will continue on Thursday, 12 March 2020 at the UBSU Richmond Building in Bristol.

The invisible ideology referred to is neoliberalism. But when I caught up with Monbiot at his home in Oxford this month he had already extended the scope of his speech to include capitalism and consumerism. This is the holy trinity: capitalism is the father, consumerism the son and neoliberalism the holy ghost.

Monbiot argues that capitalism now is neoliberal capitalism. And, unusually, that capitalism and consumerism are ideologies as much as neoliberalism is. “Part of the insidious power of these ideologies is that they are the water in which we swim – the plastic soup in which we swim. They are everywhere. They affect our decision making every day, they affect the way we see ourselves. They are difficult to see not because they are so small but because they are so big. The most powerful ideologies never announce themselves as ideologies. That is where their power lies. Our first step is to recognise them as ideologies.”

The blasphemy of attacking capitalism

Why did it take Monbiot so long to come to attacking capitalism head on?

“There was an element of fear involved. Directly attacking capitalism is blasphemy today. It’s like pronouncing that there is no god in the 19th century. But of course we recognise those who did so as pioneers whose voices were necessary. I suddenly realised that for years I had been talking about variants of capitalism. I had been talking about corporate capitalism, neoliberal capitalism, crony capitalism. But then it suddenly struck me that maybe it is not the adjective, but the noun. It makes a difference, the form of capitalism, but all forms drive us to the same destination, albeit at different rates. So neoliberal capitalism accelerates natural destruction. But Keynesian social democratic capitalism still gets us there, but maybe a little more slowly because it has more regulatory involvement and less inequality.”

Neoliberalism, broadly, asserts that free market capitalist is the best mechanism for making decisions in our modern, complex societies. The state should not intervene. This means fewer regulations, from banking to food. It means not providing health and social care. It means cutting taxes. Neoliberalism dominates the thinking of the world’s leaders, at a time when it undermines the efficacy of the state to deal with climate breakdown.

So is a non-neoliberal capitalism now possible? Could John Maynard Keynes, the influential economist who advocated government management of the economy, make a return? Can we stage a tactical retreat? Or has capitalism reached a point where neoliberalism red in tooth and claw is necessary for capitalist profit generation?

“We cannot go back to [Keynes],” Monbiot responds. “It is growth based. The whole point of Keynesian economics is to maintain the rate of growth – not too fast, not too slow – and we know that even a steady rate of growth is progress towards disaster. But also, in its first iteration in the years after the Second World War it was very effectively destroyed, principally by finance capital working out ways to destroy capital controls, foreign exchange controls. The idea that we can relaunch a Keynesian capitalism and not have it destroyed by people who have already destroyed it once, who have not forgotten those lessons, and who are in a much more powerful position to destroy it today….that’s just dreaming. That is magical thinking. You cannot go back in politics, you have constantly to devise new models.”

On Extinction Rebellion, citizens’ assemblies, and the taking of political positions

I ask Monbiot what all this means for current debates around climate advocacy and campaigning and particularly for Extinction Rebellion (XR).

He hesitates for a moment, not wanting to “abuse” his position as Britain’s most influential environment journalist to sway the climate direct action movement.

“As I see it, XR tried very hard to remain a single issue movement and to say, ‘we are not taking a justice position, we are not going to take a political position, we just want people to respect the science and introduce the policies that are in accordance with the science’. I understand that, because they wanted to reach as many people as possible.

“But there is obviously a tension between that and the intersectionality that our many issues demand and the necessity to understand the political context in which we operate and the political change required in order for us to operate. I do not think we need to flinch from the fact that to take effective action on climate breakdown requires a change of leadership, a change in government, it requires political change and it very much requires ideological change. We fool ourselves if we think we can change the policies without attending to the political framing in which these policies are discussed.

He adds: “These have to be political campaigns as well as environmental campaigns. There is a lot of recognition [within XR] about where the constraints have been and lots of intelligent people having great conversations about how it evolves. It cheers me to see so many interesting discussions happening.”

So, I ask, does XR need to be anti-neoliberal?

“Obviously, if anything XR wants to happen is to happen, then we have to overthrow neoliberal ideology. The idea of government being so activist that it is going to transform our whole economy and go to zero carbon by 2025, and change our political system, even acknowledge the importance of a political system in making decisions, all that is directly counter to neoliberalism. If a political scientist was to analyse XR’s three demands and its charter they would say, this is a profoundly anti-neoliberal programme’.”

I asked whether neoliberalism also presents a challenge in terms of the XR proposal to have a citizens’ assembly with members chosen through sortition (which is similar to the way we select members of a jury in the criminal justice system). If neoliberalism is hegemonic, is all pervasive, then even the great British public will be trapped within its assumptions. Monbiot points out that the civil service will also be immersed in, and will have an interest in upholding, neoliberal ideology.

“I have never been in favour of a pure sortition system,” Monbiot responds. “What it does is give tremendous power to the civil service, because the civil service are the permanent officials who understand how the system works, who have a long term stake in that system, whereas the people who are chosen by sortition haven’t. T[he citizens] are not trying to get in at the next election – they will not have a long term political programme. That makes the bureaucracy tremendously and dangerously powerful. A mixed system – in the widest possible sense – has got more to say for it.”

Can we ever escape ideology?

So the question arises: can we ever escape ideology? Karl Marx, the philosopher communist, believed that through a rational, logical, analysis of the economy and of society he had punched through “bourgeois” or capitalist ruling class ideology and glimpsed momentarily a non-ideological reality. But if we argue that we are not ideological, that we are free entirely of any illusions, is this not proof positive that we are so deeply immersed that we cannot even see the edges of our own delusion?

“I don’t think you can be [ideologically free]. We’re so governed by our social environment, and our social environment will always be saturated by ideology. To be ideology free would be to become an island, you would have to be completely isolated from all other human beings – and even then you would probably create your own ideology. You often hear people stand up and say, ‘I have no ideology’. And that is just self-deception.”

Monbiot presents a compelling argument. We say our goodbyes and I am back out on the street, reflecting that I am even now contained entirely within ideology, neoliberal ideology. I am willing to believe that we will never escape ideology – a grand narrative that explains who we are, where we are, what we are. If this is the case, we as individuals and as a collective humanity must choose our ideology wisely. SOURCE

Extinction Rebellion’s activists leverage disruption, arrests for climate action

“I feel like I’m doing the right thing,” said one protester. “I can’t imagine myself sitting back and watching the world collapse.”


Climate activists surround a pink boat during a protest near Oxford Circus London Underground station. CREDIT:BLOOMBERG

LONDON — Wielding a megaphone to rally protesters blocking a major road outside Parliament last month, Dr. Bing Jones was arrested for the fourth time since joining the eco-protest group Extinction Rebellion.

The arrests haven’t deterred him, however — in fact, Jones is now keen to adopt an even more disruptive approach.

“I will get arrested again and I’m willing to go to prison, because what are the alternatives?” Jones, 67, said. “It seems in a way kind of childish, but the fact is being polite just hasn’t worked.”

He is not alone: A coordinated series of demonstrations in 60 cities around the globe last month grabbed headlines. Some 1,832 people were arrested in London alone, according to the city’s Metropolitan Police, who said that £21 million ($27 million) were spent on policing the protests, which caused widespread disruption and delays as streets were crowded and public transport was brought to a halt.

London has become the natural home of these protests: More than 1,000 people were arrested during an 11-day campaign in April.

But rather than simply marching in the streets, Extinction Rebellion, also known as XR, aims to force governments to respond to the climate crisis by using nonviolent civil disobedience. The group’s uncompromising tactics include blocking traffic, grounding flights and gluing themselves to public buildings and to each other.

Despite the risk of arrests, XR has spread worldwide and includes some unlikely supporters — including seniors, doctors and religious leaders.

But as the group’s tactics has made waves, questions remain over whether the public will embrace its extreme goals and disruptive behavior.

Image: Climate protesters block Millbank in central London
Extinction Rebellion protesters block roads in central London on Oct. 7 as part of a wide-ranging series of global demonstrations demanding new climate policies.Matt Dunham / AP file

 

XR launched its first major demonstrations in Britain in November 2018 when hundreds of activists shut down bridges in central London to spread its core message that climate change is not only threatening ecological collapse but human extinction.

The movement demands that governments “tell the truth” about climate change, ensure that net-zero emissions are achieved by 2025 and establish a citizens’ assembly to inform how the transition should happen.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May, in one of her last acts before stepping down in July, pledged that the U.K. would reach net-zero emissions by 2050, one of the most ambitious targets of any leading economy, showing how bold XR’s demand is.

In the wake of a 2018 United Nations report warning of the consequences if the planet warms above 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit and the Fridays for Future student climate strikes, popularized by Greta Thunberg, the stage was set for a movement like XR to take off, said Alexander Hensby, a sociologist at the University of Kent in southeast England.

From India to Chile, people around the world have embraced the decentralized, leaderless movement by setting up local chapters to coordinate demonstrations.

“The very fact that we’re still talking about Extinction Rebellion now, the fact that we have this ongoing period of mass protest, is a testament to their ability to keep climate change pretty high up the media agenda,” Hensby said. SOURCE

‘We Must Grow This Movement’: Youth Climate Activists Ramp Up the Pressure

From school strikes to the harder edge of Extinction Rebellion, young climate activists are making their voices heard, and they’re increasingly politically engaged.

Hundreds of youth climate activists and their supporters staged a climate strike protest outside of Chevron headquarters in San Ramon, California, in September 2019. Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Hundreds of young climate activists and their supporters staged a climate strike outside of Chevron headquarters in San Ramon, California, in September calling for the oil company to abandon fossil fuels by 2025. Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A new wave of climate protests hit cities around the world this week—this time aimed at shocking people with civil disobedience, fake blood on the pavement and bodies lying in the streets under signs that read: “Stop funding climate death.”

The Extinction Rebellion demonstrations have a harder edge than the student-led climate strikes that have brought millions to their feet around the world demanding leaders do more to slow climate change. While the school climate strikes end with students returning to class, these protests have often led to arrests.

But both show how young people are reinvigorating the social movement for climate action on a scale never seen before, and their organizers plan to keep up the pressure until more is done to slow climate change.

That widespread youth activism is also empowering more young people to turn their protests into political action, from pressuring lawmakers and businesses to take action to energizing voters.

The Extinction Rebellion activists and the school strikers are both decentralized coalitions that are giving young people a way to stand up for their future. Between them, the groups have a long list of school strikes, rallies and acts of civil disobedience planned through the rest of the year, including a major youth climate strike planned for Nov. 29, Black Friday, known for holiday shopping in the United States.

Alexandria Villaseñor, a 14-year-old climate activist from New York who founded Earth Uprising and is an organizer with the school climate strike group Fridays for Future, is emblematic of their determination. She announced last month that she would be taking her school education on the road as she tours the country to continue organizing climate strikes.

“I’ll be traveling and striking in a different city, or maybe even a different country, every Friday,” she wrote on Twitter. “We must grow this movement. We must get real action.”

Building on Social Justice Movements

Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist who launched the Fridays for Future school walkouts, may have galvanized the global youth climate movement when she started her humble strikes in front of the Swedish Parliament last year, but it has been building for years.

In the U.S., the movement really learned from and built upon past civil rights and social justice movements, where tactics such as marching in the streets and occupying places of commerce or political power were used.

That’s one of the reasons the Green New Deal—the climate policy goals that the young Sunrise Movement activists brought to the halls of Congress—explicitly addresses building economic and political space for the most vulnerable communities affected by climate change as society transitions to a new energy economy, said Tamara Toles O’Laughlin, the North America director for the climate activist group 350.org. It’s also why the movement must explicitly connect social justice and climate work moving forward.

For some youth in the climate movement, the idea of addressing socioeconomic and racial disparities in the U.S. is a big part of their involvement.

“Young people of color, like myself, are affected by climate change most,” said Nyiesha Mallett, an 18-year-old climate activist from New York who is part Afro-Caribbean. “I should be one of the people who gets to come up with solutions.”

Ramping Up Local Fights

Climate groups in the U.S. are working to channel that youthful energy toward local policy battles, where they see higher chances of success.

In Washington state, young activists have joined a broad coalition pushing for a clean energy transition in the state, fighting for and, in many cases, winning ambitious policy battles, including the state’s target to reach 100 percent clean energy by 2045, the strongest clean electricity law in the nation.

“It’s not just taking back the White House and the Senate, not just passing federal legislation to address the crisis, but really making sure that we go deep on local … actions,” Toles O’Laughlin said.

That’s one reason 17-year-old Mariana Rodriguez from San Francisco joined the youth climate strikes last month, after seeing how climate change was impacting her state’s forests. “November is known as fire season,” she said. “And with all the fires that’s been happening around here, I can’t ignore something that’s happening right in front of me.”

The global youth climate marches on Sept. 20, 2019, brought millions of people into the streets in cities around the world. Young people in New York City marched through Wall Street. Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The global youth climate marches on Sept. 20, 2019, brought millions of people into the streets in cities around the world. Young people in New York City marched through Wall Street. Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

In other parts of the country where support for climate action is less popular, activists in the climate movement are working to simply get elected officials to formally adopt statewide action plans. MORE

RELATED:

Fourth global climate strike planned days before UN climate summit

 

 

Extinction Rebellion Making Things Inconvenient? Actually, Says Naomi Klein, the Climate Crisis ‘Is Really, Really Inconvenient’

“There is nothing more inconvenient than being hit by a Category 5 hurricane, by having a wildfire raze your town.”

Writer George Monbiot is arrested by police officers after being arrested in Trafalgar Square on October 16, 2019 in London.
Writer George Monbiot is arrested by police officers after being arrested in Trafalgar Square on October 16, 2019 in London. Activists held an emergency people’s assembly in Trafalgar Square following a ban on Extinction Rebellion protests in London. (Photo: Peter Summers/Getty Images)

As Extinction Rebellion activists in London on Wednesday ramped up their latest mobilization with a tenth consecutive day of action, author Naomi Klein pushed back against criticism of the climate protesters and said the climate crisis itself is what’s truly disruptive.

In an interview with Sky News presenter Adam Boulton posted Wednesday, Klein refuted the notion that “a lot of action” to address the climate crisis is “being taken by politicians,” saying their lack of sufficient action is what has drawn youth climate and Extinction Rebellion activists into the streets across the world in recent weeks.

“If standing up against the climate and ecological breakdown and for humanity is against the rules, then the rules must be broken.”
—Greta Thunberg
The interview came as the global mobilization—which has blocked major roads and bridges in their bid to demand greenhouse gas emissions go down to net zero by 2025—staged a number of actions on Wednesday in defiance of a London-wide ban.

Extinction Rebellion has also announced that several affinity groups plan to disrupt Tube services on Thursday. “In any other circumstances,” the group said in a statement, “these groups would never dream of disrupting the Tube but this is an emergency.”

Boulton, in his interview with Klein, said the climate activists put others in a position such that their “route to work is being obstructed” and said XR was “trying to shut down the Tube system.”

“Yes, it’s inconveniencing people,” said Klein. “As somebody who has covered natural disasters that are fueled by climate change for 15 years—there is nothing more inconvenient than being hit by a Category 5 hurricane, by having a wildfire raze your town.”

“Let me tell you how inconvenient it is for the people in Paradise, California, 14,000 of whom lost their homes,” she continued. “Climate change is really, really inconvenient. And so if people have to deal with this inconvenience of some protests in London to get the attention of politicians who have been focused on a singular way on the emergency of Brexit, then so be it.”

London Metropolitan Police this week issued an order banning “any assembly linked to the Extinction Rebellion ‘Autumn Uprising'” within city.

One of Wednesday’s actions was a “people’s assembly” in Trafalgar Square in which roughly 2,500 activists gathered to strategize responses to what they say is the government’s continued inaction on the climate crisis. Among those in the square detained by police was journalist and activist George Monbiot:

MORE

Extinction Rebellion protests: Green Party co-leader arrested as protesters win right to fight ‘unlawful’ police ban in court

Climate activists win go-ahead to mount legal action against Metropolitan Police 

The co-leader of the Green Party Jonathan Bartley was among more than 1,500 Extinction Rebellion activists arrested as the group continued its protests in defiance of a police ban.

Activists have been granted the go-ahead for legal action against London’s Metropolitan Police to challenge the public order banning more than two climate activists convening anywhere in the city. The hearing is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

Politicians, human-rights groups and leading environmental figures including Greta Thunberg have condemned the ban as “unlawful” and “draconian”.

Meanwhile, mothers and babies from the group are blockading the of Google HQ to demand the tech giant stops funding climate deniers, as teenage protesters climb the entrance of Youtube HQ.

Other demonstrators blocked roads around Trafalgar Square, and some protested outside the offices of The Times and The Sun.

Lawyers for Extinction Rebellion submit judicial review of police ban 
Lawyers for Extinction Rebellion have submitted an application for judicial review of the Metropolitan Police’s ban on their protests to the High Court for urgent hearing later today.
Last night Greta Thunberg condemned the Metropolitan Police’s ban of the Extinction Rebellion protests in London as “unlawful”.
“If standing up against the climate and ecological breakdown and for humanity is against the rules then the rules must be broken,” she added.
The 16-year-old climate activist previously spoke at the group’s protests in April.

MORE

The big polluters’ masterstroke was to blame the climate crisis on you and me

Fossil fuel giants have known the harm they do for decades. But they created a system that absolves them of responsibility


 Illustration: Eva Bee

Let’s stop calling this the Sixth Great Extinction. Let’s start calling it what it is: the “first great extermination”. A recent essay by the environmental historian Justin McBrien argues that describing the current eradication of living systems (including human societies) as an extinction event makes this catastrophe sound like a passive accident.

While we are all participants in the first great extermination, our responsibility is not evenly shared. The impacts of most of the world’s people are minimal. Even middle-class people in the rich world, whose effects are significant, are guided by a system of thought and action that is shaped in large part by corporations. 

The Guardian’s polluters series reports that just 20 fossil fuel companies, some owned by states, some by shareholders, have produced 35% of the carbon dioxide and methane released by human activities since 1965. This was the year in which the president of the American Petroleum Institute told his members that the carbon dioxide they produced could cause “marked changes in climate” by the year 2000. They knew what they were doing.


BP’s oil refinery complex in Grangemouth, central Scotland. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

A paper published in Nature shows that we have little chance of preventing more than 1.5C of global heating unless existing fossil fuel infrastructure is retired. Instead the industry intends to accelerate production, spending nearly $5tn in the next 10 years on developing new reserves. It is committed to ecocide.

But the biggest and most successful lie it tells is this: that the first great extermination is a matter of consumer choice. In response to the Guardian’s questions, some of the oil companies argued that they are not responsible for our decisions to use their products. But we are embedded in a system of their creation – a political, economic and physical infrastructure that creates an illusion of choice while, in reality, closing it down.

We are guided by an ideology so familiar and pervasive that we do not even recognise it as an ideology. It is called consumerism. It has been crafted with the help of skilful advertisers and marketers, by corporate celebrity culture, and by a media that casts us as the recipients of goods and services rather than the creators of political reality. It is locked in by transport, town planning and energy systems that make good choices all but impossible. It spreads like a stain through political systems, which have been systematically captured by lobbying and campaign finance, until political leaders cease to represent us, and work instead for the pollutocrats who fund them.

In such a system, individual choices are lost in the noise. Attempts to organise boycotts are notoriously difficult, and tend to work only when there is a narrow and immediate aim. The ideology of consumerism is highly effective at shifting blame: witness the current ranting in the billionaire press about the alleged hypocrisy of environmental activists. Everywhere I see rich westerners blaming planetary destruction on the birth rates of much poorer people, or on “the Chinese”. This individuation of responsibility, intrinsic to consumerism, blinds us to the real drivers of destruction.

A protester is detained during an Extinction Rebellion demonstration in Whitehall, London. Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters Pinterest 

The power of consumerism is that it renders us powerless. It traps us within a narrow circle of decision-making, in which we mistake insignificant choices between different varieties of destruction for effective change. It is, we must admit, a brilliant con.

It’s the system we need to change, rather than the products of the system. It is as citizens that we must act, rather than as consumers. But how? Part of the answer is provided in a short book published by one of the founders of Extinction Rebellion, Roger Hallam, called Common Sense for the 21st Century. I don’t agree with everything it says, but the rigour and sweep of its analysis will, I think, ensure that it becomes a classic of political theory.

It begins with the premise that gradualist campaigns making small demands cannot prevent the gathering catastrophes of climate and ecological breakdown. Only mass political disruption, out of which can be built new and more responsive democratic structures, can d

By studying successful mobilisations, such as the Children’s March in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963 (which played a critical role in ending racial segregation in the US), the Monday Demonstrations in Leipzig in 1989 (which snowballed until they helped bring down the East German regime), and the Jana Andolan movement in Nepal in 2006 (which brought down the absolute power of the monarchy and helped end the armed insurgency), Hallam has developed a formula for effective “dilemma actions”. A dilemma action is one that puts the authorities in an awkward position. Either the police allow civil disobedience to continue, thereby encouraging more people to join, or they attack the protesters, creating a powerful “symbolism of fearless sacrifice”, thereby encouraging more people to join. If you get it right, the authorities can’t win.

Among the crucial common elements, he found, are assembling thousands of people in the centre of the capital city, maintaining a strictly nonviolent discipline, focusing on the government and continuing for days or weeks at a time. Radical change, his research reveals, “is primarily a numbers game. Ten thousand people breaking the law has historically had more impact than small-scale, high-risk activism.” The key challenge is to organise actions that encourage as many people as possible to join. This means they should be openly planned, inclusive, entertaining, peaceful and actively respectful. You can join such an action today, convened by Extinction Rebellion in central London.

Hallam’s research suggests that this approach offers at least a possibility of breaking the infrastructure of lies the fossil fuel companies have created, and developing a politics matched to the scale of the challenges we face. It is difficult and uncertain of success. But, he points out, the chances that politics as usual will meet our massive predicament with effective action are zero. Mass dilemma actions could be our last, best chance of preventing the great extermination. SOURCE

 

CAN EXTINCTION REBELLION BUILD A U.S. CLIMATE MOVEMENT BIG ENOUGH TO SAVE THE EARTH?

NEW YORK, NEW YORK– OCTOBER 7, 2019: The environmental group Extinction Rebellion (commonly referred to as XR) stage a "die in" at the Charging Bull. XR lead a group of protesters in marching and action in Manhattan on Monday. Numerous members were arrested.
The environmental group Extinction Rebellion staged a “die-in” at the Charging Bull statue in Manhattan on Oct. 7, 2019. Photo: Hilary Swift for The Intercept

A CROWD OF about 200 black-clad members of the climate activist group Extinction Rebellion gathered Monday morning at the southern end of New York City’s financial district. Some held banners painted with ghostly white animals or cardboard cutouts of trees and waves. In the background, a New Orleans-style jazz funeral band warmed up tubas, and one of the march’s emcees instructed people on the proper way to wail. (“Dig down and pull out your grief — because you gotta cry!”)

At the head of the procession, 20-year-old Ayisha Siddiqa took the megaphone. She explained how she’d come to the U.S. from a poor part of Pakistan when she was 5 years old and had lost family members as a result of frequent power outages, which are expected to increase globally as the climate crisis deepens. Attention turned to Richard McLachlan, a 68-year-old New Zealander, as he and another activist began reading Extinction Rebellion’s declaration of rebellion.

“The science is clear: We are in the sixth mass extinction event, and we will face catastrophe if we do not act swiftly and robustly,” the activists said. “We, in alignment with our consciences and our reasoning, declare ourselves in rebellion against our government and the corrupted, inept institutions that threaten our future.” It was the kickoff to an event dubbed Rebellion Week, part of an international series of XR actions.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK– OCTOBER 7, 2019: Performers with Bread and Puppet Theater wait in Battery Park before the environmental group Extinction Rebellion (commonly referred to as XR). On monday they lead a group of protesters in marching and action in Manhattan. Numerous members were arrested while blocking roads and performing "die-ins."Performers with Bread and Puppet Theater wait in Battery Park before the start of Monday’s protest with XR.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK– OCTOBER 7, 2019: The environmental group Extinction Rebellion (commonly referred to as XR) stage a die-in  on the street in front of the New York Stock Exchange. XR lead a group of protesters in marching and action in Manhattan on Monday. Numerous members were arrested.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK– OCTOBER 7, 2019: The environmental group Extinction Rebellion (commonly referred to as XR) stages a die-in  on the street in front of the New York Stock Exchange. XR lead a group of protesters in marching and action in Manhattan on Monday. Numerous members were arrested.

The environmental group Extinction Rebellion stages a die-in at the Charging Bull statue in Manhattan on Oct. 7, 2019.Photos: Hilary Swift for The Intercept

As the group started moving out of the park, a figure appeared in the distance, waving Extinction Rebellion’s green flag from atop Wall Street’s charging bull statue. Dyed red corn syrup oozed down the bull’s back, and activists wearing white shirts splattered with fake blood played dead at the animal’s feet.

By sunset, police had arrested 700 people across the globe for participation in actions under XR’s banner, including 93 “die-in” participants in New York. That was the point. By getting arrested in visually compelling acts of civil disobedience inspired by Gandhi, the civil rights movement, and ACT UP, Extinction Rebellion hopes to jolt world leaders into taking action on the climate emergency.

Since the movement was born in the United Kingdom one year ago, it has grown to a network of at least 485 groups in 72 countries. Many observers have responded with a reaction similar to the one elicited by 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg: Finally, someone is truthfully confronting scientists’ apocalyptic climate forecasts with the urgency they deserve. MORE