Environmental campaign group Extinction Rebellion is staging protests intended to cause “major disruption” in five UK cities.
So, who are its supporters and what are they hoping to achieve?
What is Extinction Rebellion?
Extinction Rebellion (“XR” for short) describes itself as an international “non-violent civil disobedience activist movement”.
It wants governments to declare a “climate and ecological emergency” and take immediate action to address climate change.
Its origins can be traced to a group called Rising Up!, created in 2016 by a small group of activists.
Extinction Rebellion was launched in 2018 and organisers say it now has groups in dozens of countries.
In June, activists blocked traffic in New York, several German protesters chained themselves outside Angela Merkel’s Chancellery in Berlin, and in Paris the police used pepper spray to clear activists blocking a bridge over the Seine.
The group uses an hourglass inside a circle as its logo, to represent time running out for many species.
Are its aims realistic?
In the UK, Extinction Rebellion has three main demands:
- The government must declare a climate “emergency”
- The UK must legally commit to reducing carbon emissions to net zero by 2025
- A citizens’ assembly must be formed to “oversee the changes”
Reducing CO2 emissions to almost zero in six years’ time would be extremely ambitious.
Severe restrictions on flying would be needed. Diets would have to change, by drastically cutting back on meat and dairy. And there would have to be a massive increase in renewable energy, along with many other radical changes.
But those involved with Extinction Rebellion say the future of the planet depends on it.
“We have left it so late that we have to step up in a semi-miraculous way to deal with this situation,” said co-founder Gail Bradbrook.
However, the group doesn’t say what the solutions to tackle climate change should be.
Instead, it wants the government to create a “citizens’ assembly”, made up of randomly selected people representing a cross-section of society.
Its members would decide how to solve the climate crisis, with advice from experts. Read more