National Comment Comment

The victories of XR protesting

Extinction Rebellion's successes should not go unnoticed

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Image Credit: Mark Ramsay

Last June a body of 108 people representative of Great Britain gathered to conclusively end our climate crisis. People from Newcastle to Bolton were selected at random to form the United Kingdom’s first Citizen Assembly.
This group, devoid of professional politicians, was free to design a comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. ‘The Path to Net Zero’ report is 556 pages of a practical and ambitious consensus– finally we have a plan that can embolden our feeble government to act.

The Climate Assembly is a victory for reasoned discussion and life everywhere. The recommendations in and of themselves are not revolutionary and definitely not page-turners. But this common vision on how we can change our material world so we can inhabit it beyond 2050 is truly transformative. The will of people has spoken... after reflecting upon the facts.

Environmental experts and six parliamentary committees worked together with the Climate Assembly to create the plan. This partnership effectively guarantees the government will implement a cocktail of the suggestions. Despite that, this is not a celebration of good governance, this is a victory for the power of protests.

Our country has been dragged into action by dedicated ordinary people making a stand. We need more effective protests. The Black Lives Matter movement should take note. Since the summer of 2018, London has been occupied by the classic Extinction Rebellion members we have become familiar with. These committed non-violence protesters deployed civil disobedience to force a Brexit obsessed nation to declare a ‘Climate Emergency’. The first win for Extinction Rebellion.

We now stand amidst their latest achievement. The power of protest has delivered change. The mobilisation of people across the country consistently for two years has convinced those in power to act.

Extinction Rebellion’s demands were clear from day one; tell the truth about the climate and ecological emergency; act now to reduce emission to net zero by 2025 and to create a Citizen’s Assembly. Their simple stand-forward strategy is now going to help save the world.
Co-founders Roger Hallam and Gail Bradbrook built on the foundation laid by David Attenborough and the inspiration embodied by Greta Thunberg to create an effective protest movement. Together these different strands of activism have snowballed into a national movement. They educated us, they motivated us, and now they lead us to make the changes we know are deadly necessary.

The government’s failure to adopt the 2025 net zero-carbon goal is reflective of their reluctance to take the issue seriously. Frankly, it’s embarrassing our politicians don’t have the self-confidence to take action. Especially when 108 randomly selected citizens have done just that.
This is a reminder that, just like the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, we the people must keep applying pressure to force our government to act. Our government wants to downplay and dilute our ambitions. These victories have not been celebrated nor publicised by our government for a reason. They would rather we stopped caring about our climate crisis.

The next frontier for Extinction Rebellion takes the form of the Green New Deal. On Friday 23 October - the De-carbonisation and Economic Strategy Bill will be debated in Parliament. Britain’s only Green Party Member of Parliament, Caroline Lucas has given us an opportunity.

The Bill is the first step in design-ing a Green New Deal for the UK.We need to pressure our politicians in voting yes for this next step. The Bill calls for a National Investment Bank to fund green projects, ending tax subsidies to fossil fuel companies, and the creation of thousands of jobs by building more renewable power stations.

I would encourage all those reading this to watch this debate, and use social media to support the bill. Call out the dinosaurs advocating continued fossil fuel usage. Not for a second time in this generation can we let our elders tell us who we are and what we want.

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