It’s been a long wait, but a wave of rebellion has once again rippled across the globe.
Thousands of rebels coursed through three European capitals to demand action on the climate and ecological crisis.
With Covid in remission and social restrictions easing across much of the continent, the streets of Berlin, then Oslo, then London, were again the stage for some much-needed mass disruption.
In Oslo rebels from all over Scandinavia united for one week of Nordic Rebellion, and with elections imminent, managed to get Norway’s oil extraction firmly onto the political agenda.
In Berlin thousands of rebels overcame prolific policing to rise up and launch their own politically pointed actions. Some rebels even rose up to the top of the Brandenburg Gate.
And finally in London rebels from across the UK launched their Impossible Rebellion, two weeks of roving actions that exposed The City, captured the media, and included a lot of talking around tables.
You can find out much more about these spectacular, inventive and expertly choreographed campaigns in Action Highlights.
There’s also still time to get involved in the next ones! Check out Upcoming Actions to see how you can help the rebellion wave resurface in Italy, where both the YouthCOP and PreCOP conferences will be held, and in the Netherlands.
While the sheer level of rebel activity has made the last few weeks feel special, the truth is that away from our movement, much feels depressingly familiar.
Another extreme weather event has struck, with Hurricane Ida devastating large parts of the US and Caribbean. Its high winds and flash floods have left death, toxic chemicals and spilled oil in its wake.
While our politicians may now be bold enough to blame climate change for this season of chaos, the policies needed to stop the weather getting worse are still nowhere to be seen.
In just two short months our leaders will converge for a summit conference in Glasgow, and we shall see what they bring to the COP table.
But for now, it is time for our movement to celebrate our raucous return, and for those involved to regenerate. Rebellion may be incredible, and what this world badly needs, but it is also exhausting.
As we enter a period of reflection and repair, we must build on what we did right, learn from what we did wrong, and ready ourselves for the great rebellions still to come.
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- Action Highlights: Nordic Rebellion, Berlin RiseUp, UK Impossible Rebellion
- Action Roundup: Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Argentina, Tunisia, Bangladesh, Brazil…
- Upcoming Actions: Milan PreCOP Rebellion, Netherlands Rebellion
- Announcements: Solarpunk Storytelling Contest, XR Uganda Youth Crowdfunder…
- Book of the Month: Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk
- Humans of XR: Simeon, Nigeria
Scandinavians Unite to Break Norway’s Oil Habit
19 – 29 AUG | Oslo, Norway
It began aboard a pink sailboat. As the sun rose, the small vessel cruised into the Sture oil terminal on Norway’s west coast, breaching its security zone and stopping all oil tankers in the area. Meanwhile 20 landbased rebels blockaded the terminal’s road entrance.
The result: Equinor, the state-owned oil company, couldn’t export crude oil around the world. Scared of bad publicity, the oil giant chose to ignore the blockade and ship in employees from a distant harbour. Exports were blocked for an amazing 27 hours.
5 salty seadogs approach Sture oil terminal. Banner: ‘Equinor – heading for catastrophe’
This was just the prelude to the Nordic Rebellion, the biggest civil disobedience campaign for the climate in Norwegian history.
Norway is the world’s 7th biggest emitter of CO2, and its government plans to extract North Sea oil until at least 2070. Hundreds of rebels from across Scandinavia (and a few more from outside it) converged on the capital, determined to change the nation’s course.
Nordic Rebellion Highlights: A bridge occupation in central Oslo (which became one of 3 campsites for guest rebels), a March of Mourning, a kayak blockade of Oslo Harbour.
XR Norway Youth occupied the lobby of the Ministry of Oil and Energy, demanding their government cease oil exploration immediately and stop oil production by 2025.
The oil minister came down for a constructive chat, then told the media outside that the young rebels were trying to sidetrack democracy. After 6 hours the police started arresting people. The youngest to be handcuffed and fined was just 17.
The city later hosted a March of Mourning, led by a priest with a giant black veil inscribed with 100 critically endangered species. The solemn rebel column marched across the city centre into Parliament Square, stopping outside three ecocidal ministries.
As the marchers passed the Ministry of Agriculture, rebels stormed inside and glued themselves to the windows.
As the March passes the Transport Ministry, a rebel artist pours makeshift asphalt over herself and her painting of an area that will be destroyed for a new highway.
Rebels also gave Equinor another dose of disruption, hanging a huge banner from atop its towering headquarters. It read “Fracking Kills: Out of Vaca Muerta Now!” in reference to Equinor’s fracking of a vast shale oil deposit in Argentina. The protest was attended by indigenous activists and the Argentinian scientist and EcoLeaks founder Esteban Servat.
Norway is seen as a bastion of free speech and democracy, but the state has become increasingly draconian in its dealings with rebels.
While never violent, the police threatened to kick out rebels who were not Norwegian citizens, and issued hefty fines. 129 activists were arrested over the rebellion, some multiple times, and fines amounted to a staggering 2.1 million Kroner (over $242,000).
Rebels occupy a crossroads between Norway’s parliament and royal castle. Police quickly cleared it, but the plucky rebels retook it the next day, and the day after that! The banner: ‘We believe in a life after oil – Break the Oil Habit’.
Norway is in the middle of a general election campaign, and many media outlets have credited the Nordic Rebellion for putting the nation’s oil extraction on the political agenda.
The 3 major parties (who all back oil exploration and extraction well past 2050) are losing popularity while momentum is building for the smaller climate-conscious parties.
Rebels believe they’ve moved Norway’s climate agenda forward, but doubts remain if it will be enough to cause a political upset.
Berliners Rise Above Old Politics
16 – 20 AUG | Berlin, Germany
Elections in Germany are fast approaching, but in the face of rising temperatures and mass extinction, no political party has a satisfactory climate plan.
In response, Berlin rebels launched the August RiseUp, a week of actions demanding immediate political change. But as they hit the streets, they found them filled with police.
Rebels sang in front of the Brandenburg Gate and erected tripods in a nearby park, but bigger plans (and the equipment to launch them) were hindered by the extraordinary police presence. Even police union chiefs criticised the numbers involved, citing fears of ‘unattractive images before the elections’ as the motive.
Despite the flood of fuzz, the rebellion thrived, and complacent politicians felt the heat. An action at the Social-Democrat party (SPD) headquarters was impeded, but the Christian Democrats (CDU, the current party in power) building was sprayed with fake blood as rebels glued themselves to the glass.
Rebels also occupied the building of the CDU’s economic council, chalking down helpful suggestions like “change your diet, not the climate”. They later blockaded the state building of North Rhine Westphalia – Germany’s mining and industrial heartland. Rebels operated small excavators next to a pile of coal while wearing masks of fossil fuel friendly politicians.
Red Rebels present the German parliament with the key to reducing emissions. Inscribed: transport change, agricultural change, energy change, construction change, consumption change, industrial change, constitutional amendment.
The ravishing Red Rebels were spotted parading in front of the Food and Agriculture Ministry, and when their oversized black coffin was confiscated by the police and driven away, the symbolism matched any that was planned by rebels.
Ghost nets (old fishing nets pulled from the sea) were spread out over one of the city’s main squares for an ocean-themed action, and a Volkswagen car showroom was blocked by 150 rebels to protest the automobile lobby. Despite occasional acts of unprovoked police violence, most rebel actions proceeded peacefully.
The RiseUp ended as it began – with another massive blockade under the Brandenburg Gate. Swarms of rebels halted traffic, two rebel trucks drove onto the intersection to block it for good, and tripods and beehives (hexagonal protest structures) were speedily erected.
6 brave rebels scaled the great Gate itself, while others chained themselves to the trucks and tripods. Despite a rapid response by police, spirits were high as rebels staged a final and spontaneous die-in.
UK Rebels Accept Their Mission Impossible
23 AUG – 4 SEP | London, UK
Stop all fossil fuel investment NOW! That was the demand, made to the government, by XR UK’s fifth major Rebellion, which saw thousands or rebels take part in two weeks of daily protests (no site holds this time).
Backed by the International Energy Agency, the demand was a test of the government’s commitment to climate action ahead of hosting COP26. So far there has been no formal response to the demand, but a total of 508 rebels were arrested for making it.
With the British Establishment claiming immediate action on the climate crisis is impossible, the first week of this Impossible Rebellion focused on crisis talks. And for talks you need tables. The humble table became the symbol of this Rebellion, and citizens across the UK were invited to ‘pull up a chair’ by 200 specially trained table hosts.
The second week of action was focused on The City, the square mile of London where the offices of major global financial institutions are located: banks, hedge funds, stock exchanges, and the Bank of England.
The City invests so much money in fossil fuels, if it were a country it would be the 9th biggest emitter in the world – that’s more than the entire output of Germany! And not only is The City a major engine of the climate crisis, it was also built on blood money from the slave trade, and continues to profit from colonialisation and exploitation today.
UK rebels feel the Impossible Rebellion has marked a return to the vibrant, Samba-band powered energy of pre-Covid actions. While the movement feels slightly leaner than before, with less arrests than previous rebellions, there is also a sense that it is stronger, and that a majority of the public now ‘get’ where XR is coming from.
Outreach rebels reported how the tables had turned as concerned citizens approached them to express their fears about the future. In the run up to Rebellion a record-breaking £100k ($140k) was raised in just 24hrs. For more and more people, disruption works.
Media interest has been constant, and notably more supportive, with primetime news presenters giving respectful interviews, refuting tired old attacks, and even issuing mea culpas over previously ‘wrong’ and ‘lazy’ positions!
Animal Rebellion held crisis talks over McDonald’s tables in central London, part of their campaign to make the restaurant chain plant-based by 2025.
The Impossible Rebellion also cemented how XR UK now prioritises global justice. The Opening Ceremony coincided with the 230th anniversary of the Haitian Revolution, the only successful rebellion by enslaved black people in modern history.
Moving speeches made clear that UK rebels should not see themselves as ‘saving the world’, but rather following in the footsteps of Global South activists who’ve been rebelling against the same forces for centuries.
Both rebels and the police brought new tactics to London’s streets. Large marches became distractions for smaller, more disruptive rebel actions nearby, while police quickly surrounded and cleared protest sites to stop them spreading.
Rather than holding sites for as long as possible, rebels stayed mobile and unpredictable, launching pop-up actions via a broad family of sister movements that included Animal Rebellion, XR Youth, XR ISN and Money Rebellion.
Over-policing was rife, and rushed officers occasionally used shocking violence to stop new protest sites from blossoming. Rebels were beaten with batons and nearly crushed by toppled protest structures but always remained calm and committed to non-violence.
10 AUG | Makassar, Indonesia. A surrealist Rebellion of One points out that, in the month Indonesia celebrates independence, the country is not free from the Climate Crisis.
16 AUG | Moratumulla, Sri Lanka. Rebels both human and animal took part in a beach clean-up, though numbers were limited by the pandemic.12kg of nurdles (pellets used by the plastics industry) were collected.
21 AUG & 3 SEP | Vancouver, Canada. Rebels marched through downtown Vancouver and brought along a carnival band. There was dancing, street art, and thanks to all the police, arrests. It didn’t stop rebels returning to the same streets two weeks later.
25 AUG | Rotterdam, Netherlands. Thirty Dutch rebels shut down Shell for the day! Using banners and bamboo structures they blockaded Shell Pernis, Europe’s largest oil refinery. Watch a short video of the day and sign up for the incoming Dutch rebellion.
25 AUG | Buenos Aires, Argentina. Rebels protest outside the Chinese Embassy. A political deal will see industrial pig farms opened in the country to export pork to China.
25 AUG | Herzliya, Israel. Rebels use fire extinguishers to spray-paint the Israeli headquarters of the American oil company Chevron.
28 AUG | Worldwide (pictured France, Tunisia, Bangladesh). Over 100 rebels based in countries all around the world are taking part in an XR Earth Fast. Some went without food for a day, others a week. A brave few are still going until their demands are met.
3 SEP | Brasília, Brazil. Over 1,000 indigenous protestors celebrate a surprise decision by the Prosecutor General to affirm their rights to historic lands. Whatever the courts decide, the far-right government is still set on seizing their lands and handing it over to agribusiness, mining and logging interests. The unprecedented protests will continue.
PreCOP Rebellion & Climate Camp: Join us!
From 29 SEP | Milan, Italy
Milan will soon be hosting both the YouthCOP and PreCOP. These preparatory meetings will affect the negotiations and decisions made during COP26.
XR Italy believes this is humanity’s last chance to avert climate chaos, and that it’s time for the ostriches to get their heads out of the sand.
We invite rebels from all over the world to join us during these conferences for a week of rebellion in Milan. Actions will start from 29 September.
A four-day Climate Camp set up by a coalition of groups will launch from 30 September. Check out the program here.
To book a space at the Climate Camp please fill in this Accomodation Form.
XR Netherlands Declares Climate Rebellion!
11 – 18 OCT | The Hague, Netherlands
From October 11 to 18, thousands of rebels will demand that the Dutch government ACTS NOW and makes the Netherlands CLIMATE NEUTRAL BY 2025 IN A JUST MANNER.
Our CLIMATE REBELLION will consist of several stages.
From October 11 – 15 we will block The Hague, the political heart of the Netherlands, with thousands of rebels and declare a Climate Emergency.
On the weekend of October 16 & 17 we shall join a coalition of other social movements to launch a climate camp where we can explore what a just transition looks like.
On October 18, we will come back together to reflect on our Climate Rebellion and regenerate for future actions.
Solarpunk Storytelling Showcase: Submit Your Story!
11 OCT Deadline
DEADLINE EXTENSION! Inspired by the Impossible Rebellion, and with COP26 on the horizon, XR Wordsmiths are now accepting stories for our Solarpunk Storytelling Showcase until MONDAY OCTOBER 11th!
Rebel writers, let’s carry our amazing energy forward and imagine the world we are rebelling for.
Open those laptops, uncap those pens, stretch that imagination and write us a story of the positive, healthy future you dream of for our beautiful world.
Find out more and submit your stories here.
XR Youth Uganda: Tree Planting Crowdfunder
6 OCT Deadline
XR Youth Uganda is crowdfunding for a tree-planting project across the Arid and Semi-Arid counties of Northern Uganda.
The aim is for young tree lovers from frontline communities to plant over one million trees by the end of 2021.
Temple of the Lost Future Art Exhibition: Submit Your Art!
27 SEP – 3 OCT | Milan, Italy
XR MILANO is organising an international art exhibition during the Pre-COP conference at the end of September.
We’re inviting all artists to participate by sending work that illustrates a new way to communicate the ecological and climatic crisis.
For more information write to [email protected]
Letters To The Earth: Make Your Voice Heard Before COP26!
Letters to the Earth are gathering your messages for a better future.
Download letter-writing toolkits to take to your schools and communities. They are filled with creative prompts, nature connection activities and educational materials.
The campaign will be bringing your messages to life, sharing them with people around the world.
What do you have to say? The post box is open!
Book of the Month
Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, by Olga Tokarczuk
This exceptional work of fiction from the Polish Nobel laureate is difficult to categorise and even harder to put down.
It tells the story of Janina, a reclusive and eccentric old woman living in a remote Polish village. She is beset by ailments, fascinated by astrology, and dismayed by a world where animals are mistreated with impunity.
When a series of men from a local hunting club are found dead, and the police seem unable to solve the mystery, Janina finds evidence that points to the incredible – the local animals are finally seeking their revenge on humanity.
Part crime thriller, part environmental diatribe, part darkly humorous character study, this wild and unconventional novel is an absolute joy.
Its plotting will grab you, its insights will move you, and its masterful use of language will leave you spellbound.
Humans of XR
I am from Ogoni, the Niger Delta part of Nigeria, and presently based in London.
I became involved with Extinction Rebellion because they are demanding global climate justice. If a person is passionate about justice, but sees it manacled, before they realise it he or she is an activist.
Shell were once a darling company to the Ogoni people. As a boy, I saw their arrival on Ogoni land in 1958. Their workers enjoyed the welcome from the indigenous people who were excited to do business.
Attitudes changed against Shell only when the people realised their darling company was responsible for their predicaments. The unlucky thing for the Ogoni people was that realisation came too late.
Shell operated 96 oil wells which were connected to 6 oilfields. Soot from the wells billowed into the atmosphere – 24/7 for 35 years.
We used to drink rainwater and stream water. Now that is no longer possible.
Such situations motivated me to join the Ogoni struggle for justice when it started in 1990. When times are tough, never give up. Justice always sails through, despite temporary setbacks.
The future is bright for Extinction Rebellion. More and more people are joining their activities. The truth has to be told, and the only person to be offended by the truth is the wrongdoer.
I was asked, by people who were aware of my first-hand knowledge and involvement in global campaigns, to write a book on the Ogoni people and their struggle for justice.
‘OGONI: The Struggle for Justice’ by Simeon B. Kpoturu is available now from Hive and other bookstores.
If you know (or are) a rebel somewhere in the world with a story to tell, get in touch at [email protected]
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