Dutch rebels brave a police water cannon during an epic 4-week road blockade.
This issue: XR Netherlands Mega-Blockade | XR NYC Rebellion | XR Taiwan
Climate breakdown has begun and the world in which we live is collapsing. That was the combined verdict of the UN chief and the pope after the world went through the hottest Northern Hemisphere summer on record.
But it’s not just the heat that has been a death sentence for so many thousands. September saw a global wave of storms and flash floods that washed away entire communities, most devastatingly in Libya, where at least 11,000 have drowned.
Meanwhile, the politicians with the power to stop this unravelling are avoiding climate summits, or rowing-back on already inadequate climate policies. And Big Oil backed think-tanks are criminalising climate protests and vilifying those who take part in them.
Faced with this dystopian reality, our movement has responded with ingenuity and bravery. This month we feature rebel actions that show new levels of determination, that harness new tactics and alliances, and that take place in brand-new regions.
Dutch rebels remain defiant in their stand against fossil fuel subsidies.
In Action Highlights, we feature a road blockade in the Netherlands that lasted 27 days, saw 9,000 rebels arrested, and pushed the Dutch parliament to table new legislation that could see fossil fuel subsidies abolished. We also cover rebellion in New York, where XR NYC coordinated with dozens of allied organisations to create a week of action on the city streets.
In Solidarity Corner we look at a fascinating new campaign that uses deepfake video, sophisticated PR, a fantasy modular iPhone, and good old-fashioned street protest to urge corporate giant Apple to embrace a sustainable business model.
And finally, in Humans of XR we talk to a rebel helping to rekindle XR Taiwan, a part of the world we rarely get to cover in this newsletter.
Rebels in New York are arrested during a blockade of the Federal Reserve.
The era of global climate breakdown is here, and far sooner than most expected. But we do not have time to despair.
Instead, we must prepare. For the devastation to come, for the widespread rage it will unleash, and for the actions that can channel that rage into protest - protests large enough to dethrone the elites who have led us off this cliff edge.
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- Action Highlights: XR Netherlands Mega-Blockade, XR NYC Fall Rebellion
- Action Round Up: Denmark, USA, Bangladesh, Nepal, North Pole, Sweden, India, Zimbabwe, Australia, Uganda, South Africa, Brazil, France, Belgium, Gambia, UK, Austria
- Solidarity Corner: Act Different
- Humans of XR: Jen, XR Taiwan
- Must Reads: Tipping Point, Atlas Network, Planet Wreckers, UK U-turn
- Announcements: Photo Contest, Podcast Guests, Climate Cafe, Regen
Four-Week Blockade Gets Dutch Government Working
9 SEPT - 5 OCT | The Hague, Netherlands
Rebels defy police water cannons that were so powerful they caused bruising.
On the first day, rebel organisers expected 10,000 protesters. But by midday, 25,000 had arrived. Their mission: to blockade the A12, a major road running through The Netherlands’ political heart, and do this every day until the government abolished all subsidies for the fossil fuel industry.
As with previous A12 blockades, the police quickly deployed powerful water cannons and beat the rebels with batons. 2400 were arrested, including dozens of minors. But the police violence did not stop the rebels from coming back.
They returned, day after day, always at midday, their numbers bolstered by rebel delegations from Germany, Belgium, Denmark, and the UK. The police continued their intimidation, confiscating musical instruments (the orchestra played on), reporting underage rebels and their parents to the Dutch child protection service, and only turning off the water cannons once XR Netherlands took them to court.
Despite police violence and intimidation, the blockades remained peaceful.
Finally, after 27 days of continuous peaceful rebellion and more than 8,800 arrests, the blockade was suspended because of an amazing political turnaround. The government had submitted a motion to parliament calling for the “scaling down of different fossil fuel subsidies”.
Rebels will not return to the streets until the motion has either been passed into law and assessed, or voted down. But whatever happens, this blockade has already become an iconic example of the power of peaceful civil disobedience.
Current Dutch fossil fuel subsidies are estimated to be between 39.7 and 46.4 billion euros a year. The higher than expected figure emerged after recent independent research, and forced the government to admit that the subsidies were delaying a green energy transition.
Fall Rebellion Unites Thousands
13 - 19 SEPT | New York, USA
An alliance of activists blockade the Federal Reserve Bank in New York.
Grounded helicopters, an occupied museum, blockaded banks, public nudity, and 186 arrests - just some of the headlines from the week-long Fall Rebellion that saw rebels from across the country converge on New York before the city hosted a UN Climate Ambition Summit.
The rebellion was run according to a new strategy that saw dozens of climate groups protest alongside and in harmony with XR chapters. As an XR NYC activist explains, “each group would take a lead on a single action, with other groups and individuals joining as many actions as they could all over the city”.
XR NYC opened the rebellion by disrupting helicopters at the city’s private heliport, with police ending the protest after 90 minutes. Meanwhile, 50 activists from an alliance of eco-groups blockaded the headquarters of BlackRock, a major funder of new fossil fuel projects, and four naked rebels gatecrashed a runway of New York Fashion Week.
Citi bankers get upset when activists blockade their ecocidal workplace.
The rebel alliance returned the next morning to blockade all ten entrances to the headquarters of Citibank, which claims climate leadership while being the world’s second-largest funder of fossil fuels ($332 billion since the Paris Agreement). Angry bankers tried (and failed) to push through the hundreds of activists to get to work.
The blockade tactics were repeated at the Federal Reserve Bank, where so many activists were arrested they had to queue down Wall Street in handcuffs waiting for police to bus them away. The tactics were used again at the Museum of Modern Art, which has ties to a billionaire involved in fossil fuel projects on Indigenous land, and was forced to close for the day when rebels occupied it for over five hours.
People of the Wetʼsuwetʼen Nation blockade the Museum of Modern Art for ties to a billionaire who is funding an illegal gas pipeline across their land.
The pinnacle of the rebellion was a vast march that saw tens of thousands of climate activists, scientists, indigenous groups, and unions pour through the city to demand an end to fossil fuels. Part of a global wave organised by March To End Fossil Fuels, it demonstrated the amazing alliances being forged in the city.
“We have a very strong and diverse coalition going on in New York”, says our XR NYC source. “We invited people from all over the country, they helped with logistics, led protests, did jail support – it was a huge melting pot that brought thousands together. And for the next rebellion, we’ll invite the world”.
Action Round Up
13 SEPTEMBER | Denmark: Victory! Danske Bank has divested from corrupt coal giant Adani Group after a sustained campaign by Scientist Rebellion Denmark and other eco-groups. Activism works!
15 - 17 SEP | Worldwide: More than 600,000 people join marches all around the world to demand an end to fossil fuels. The historic weekend of action was organised by Global Fight To End Fossil Fuels in alliance with thousands of organisations, including XR and Fridays For Future. Marches took place in 60 countries (even the North Pole) and culminated in New York, where world leaders were meeting for the UN Climate Ambition Summit. Photos: New York, Bangladesh, Nepal, North Pole.
15 - 23 SEP | Worldwide: Mothers and their allies formed circles in 81 cities across six continents as part of a second Global Mothers Rebellion. Check out more images from the symbolic sit-downs on the Mothers Rebellion website. Photos: Sweden (Jonathan Pye) India, UK, Zimbabwe.
15 SEP | Melbourne, Australia: Rebels rally against seismic blasting exploration for gas off the south Victorian coast, a home to whales and other precious marine life. They visited Australia’s offshore energy regulator to demand an end to gas extraction, which releases vast amounts of methane - a greenhouse gas 86 times more warming than CO2. Photo: Julian Meehan
15 SEP | Kampala, Uganda: Police arrest 4 student climate activists as they protest against the banks funding EACOP (East African Crude Oil Pipeline). One activist required emergency medical assistance after their arrest. They were imprisoned for five days for “causing inconvenience to the public” before being released on bail.
19 - 21 SEP | Johannesburg, South Africa: XR Gauteng occupies the HQ of Standard Bank, demanding the institution openly discuss its fossil fuel financing. Private security dragged the rebels (and a reporter) from the lobby and knocked one unconscious. Undeterred, the group set up a protest camp outside the building. After 3 days, security used punches, kicks, and choke holds to clear the camp. One rebel was dragged into the bank HQ by police and held for 4 hours before being transferred to a police station and held overnight. XR Gauteng are planning an even larger demonstration at Standard Bank in the near future.
21 SEPT | Brazil: Victory! The Supreme Court rejects a proposal that could have legalised the theft of indigenous lands by extractive industries. Hundreds of thousands of Indigenous people faced being evicted by mining, drilling, and farming corporations if they could not prove they were living on their land on October 5, 1988, the day the national Constitution was signed. Days after the verdict, a new reserve for uncontacted tribes in Peru was approved by the Peruvian government after a 17- year campaign. Photo: Tukumā Pataxó / APIB
22 SEPT | Paris, France: Rebels and activists from ATTAC France occupy Le Bourget Airport. They cut through fences and planted fruit trees on the runway to stop the ultra-rich from using their ecocidal private jets for the weekend. Police arrived quickly and arrested 13 activists.
23 SEPT | Ghent, Belgium: For the fourth time, rebels hold a ‘civil disobedience picnic’ on the city’s inner ring road. 135 activists gathered on the tarmac to demand their government stop subsidising the fossil fuel industry by 13 billion euros every year. After 14 hours, the police intervened and 14 rebels were arrested.
25 SEPT | Banjul, Gambia: XR Gambia hold their first climate change seminar.
25 SEPT | UK: 240 people across the UK replicate an action by a rebel now threatened with prison for holding a sign outside court. The rebel held up her sign about the rights of juries during a climate trial in March. She did it because the judge banned the climate activists being prosecuted from mentioning climate change in their defence. Civil liberty campaigners believe her prosecution is part of an escalating attack on the right to protest by the UK’s government.
28 SEPT | Vienna, Austria: Rebels block one lane of a major road in the city centre to protest the construction of a new motorway. They brought a 6m wooden scaffold and chained themselves within metal pipes, creating a taste of the traffic-jam future that the A26 will bring. The fossil mega-project has seen costs balloon by 60% since planning began, and rebels demanded that the 1.19 billion euros be used for healthcare, education, and nature preservation instead.
Solidarity Corner: Act Different
The Act Different website launches the iPhone Infinite.
In September, an international collective of over 50 activists, including rebels and “laughtivists” (humour-based activists) from The Yes Men, launched Act Different.
The website contains swish animations, photos, even the pricing plan, of a brand-new iPhone, the iPhone Infinity: a modular, repairable, and customisable iPhone with a low environmental impact that could last for a lifetime!
Better yet, you can watch the CEO of Apple launch not just the iPhone Infinity but also an entire new business model - one that sees the world’s biggest company put the wellbeing of Apple workers and the planet above corporate profits.
Sadly, the iPhone Infinity is not real, and nor is the sustainable new business model. The CEO presentation is a deepfake video created with the help of AI. But this campaign is so convincing that you might just believe it could be! And that is exactly what the creators wanted. They call it a psychomagic act, a therapeutic visualisation tactic to show people what true corporate social responsibility could look like.
Activists in London add the iPhone Infinity to Apple’s in store devices (left) and activists in Edinburgh give a talk outside an Apple store (right)
The collective have worked for months on the project, and have already caught some media attention. But this is only the beginning. All across the world, rebels and other activists have been visiting Apple stores to advertise the Apple Infinity, and to talk to customers about sustainable production and the right to repair.
The campaign aims to bring together Apple stakeholders, including manufacturers, employees and consumers, to pressure the company to not just ‘think different’ but act different.
To do this, the collective have created the Apple Alliance, a working group committed to reshaping Apple. In an open letter to the Apple CEO (the real one, not the AI version!), they invite him to join this Alliance to make positive change. His response is pending, but the campaign will continue, with or without him!
Humans of XR:
Jen, XR Taiwan
Jen (right) with fellow members of XR Taiwan. Their banners read ‘Extinction Rebellion’ and ‘This is an emergency’ in Mandarin.
I’m from the USA but have been living in Taiwan for seven years now. In 2019, I set up a local XR group in Taipei. I’d become increasingly anxious about the state of the climate, and the total lack of an adequate response from the world’s governments. At the time, there wasn’t much climate activism going on around me, and I worked hard to get XR Taiwan established. But personal events meant I had to withdraw in 2021.
In the past months, I’ve had a bit more time and energy to devote to activism, so I worked with friends to revive the group. For our first action, a few of us who normally meet online gathered in a park for a meditation session, and we laid out banners with a QR code so passers-by could find us on Facebook. It wasn’t a huge event, but it felt really good to meet up in person and get things going again.
My decision to get back into activism was partly prompted by becoming a mother. My responsibility as a parent has made me feel the urgency of the climate emergency even more intensely. I know I can’t do everything, but I need to do something. I want my child to know that I tried to do what I could.
I’m also a teacher, and I care so much for my students, for what their futures will look like. Living in Taiwan, we are all too aware of the great danger of rising sea levels.
With the crisis accelerating, it is easy to fall into despair, but I try to remain hopeful. Being part of the international XR community brings me hope and strength. Forging links with other groups, seeing others around the world acting and building community is so inspiring to me.
I know that burnout is a real risk. You can get so enthused and ambitious, take on way too much, then get overwhelmed. I’ve learned to be wiser, to not overload myself, to just do what I can, so that I can keep going over the long term. As a Buddhist, I find meditation to be a deep source of support.
It feels like the increasingly frequent and severe climate disasters are waking more and more people up and are bringing more people into activism. This gives me hope. So does the XR global community: I have felt a lot of warmth and support since returning. Though none of this is easy, I have hope - and I’m ready for our next actions.
If you know (or are) a rebel somewhere in the world with a story to tell, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
A Dutch rebel sees the funny side of police tactics during the recent A12 Blockade.
Podcast: Tipping Point
A 3-part podcast about how a team of young scientists released a groundbreaking study in 1972 called “The Limits to Growth”. It predicted the ecological crisis that we are now living through, but was ignored. A heartbreaking and inspiring story about ideas that are now finally flourishing in the degrowth movement.
Article: Meet the Shadowy Global Network Vilifying Climate Protesters
The New Republic investigates the Atlas Network, a little-known but enormously powerful network of think-tanks linked to Big Oil who are vilifying climate protesters and writing the legislation to put them in jail.
Report: Planet Wreckers: How 20 Countries Risk Locking in Climate Chaos
Oil Change International shows how just 20 countries are responsible for 90% of the CO2 emissions from oil and gas extraction planned between now and 2050. The USA, Canada, Australia, Norway, and UK, countries who could most easily afford to phase out oil and gas, are responsible for the majority of those emissions.
Video: News From A World In Flux
XR UK highlights important news around climate activism and science in these monthly discussions between an XR co-founder and a conservation scientist. In this episode, they cover the UK Government’s U-turn on net-zero targets, how think tanks are taking responsibility, and rebellion in the Netherlands.
Article: On The Wrong Side of History
The XR Global blog explains how the UK Government has both ripped up climate commitments with help from unaccountable think tanks, and repeatedly underplayed the nation’s role in climate breakdown.
XR Global Photo Contest 2023
Deadline: 1 NOVEMBER
XR Global Support is holding a global photography contest. We are asking you to submit your best photograph on the theme of WATER.
This contest is an opportunity to raise awareness about the challenges and struggles surrounding this vital life source, water. The selected images will be part of a touring exhibition, an online exhibition, and 12 images will be published as a calendar.
Submission deadline: 1st November 2023. For more info, visit our website.
Everyday Rebels: XR Global Podcast Seeks Guests
Know a climate activist with a story that deserves to be told?
This is your chance to nominate someone who should be interviewed on Everyday Rebels, the upcoming XR Global Podcast. You can also nominate yourself!
Fill out this short form to explain why your candidate should be on the podcast (be patient, it may take a moment to load).
If we feel there's a match, we'll get in touch to plan an interview. Thank you for helping us tell meaningful stories from and for our beautiful movement!
For questions or suggestions about the podcast, email: email@example.com
XR Global Support: Join Us!
Interested in joining XR Global Support and working with rebels around the world?
Our mandate is to help start and grow local XR groups across the globe by offering training, resources, tech support, media promotion, and more.
XR Global Support Fundraising is looking for volunteers to join their team.
Interested? You’ll simply need access to a computer, a bit of free time, and a strong commitment to climate activism.
The first step is to fill out this volunteer registration form.
GS Regen: Climate Café
25 OCT | 07:00 - 08:30 UTC | Online
GS Regen are holding free Climate Cafés for rebels to attend each month. A Climate Café is an informal, open, respectful, confidential space to safely share thoughts, feelings and emotional responses to the climate & ecological emergency.
Join trained facilitators Christie, Cerrie and Sam for a quiet, reflective and supportive experience not designed to lead participants to any conclusion or particular action.
Register here for the Climate Café on Wednesday 25th October from 07:00 - 8:30 am UTC
GS Regen: Regen 101 Workshop
31 OCT | 23:00 UTC | Online
GS Regen are holding free Regen 101 workshops for rebels to attend each month.
Regen 101 is a beautiful introduction to Regenerative Cultures for those new to XR, and an essential experience for those already involved in the movement. It is experiential, practical, and educational, and weaves through topics so that the group leaves with an understanding of embodied Regenerative Activism.
Join our facilitators, Christie & Cherry in this nourishing experience that explains Regenerative Cultures, and covers Earth Emotions, Self-care, Burnout, and more.
Register here for the Regen Workshop on Tuesday 31st October at 23:00 UTC
For more global events and trainings, visit XR Global Support Events.
A rebel drag queen uses her charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent to make a very good point during the A12 Blockade in The Netherlands.
Thank you for reading, rebel. If you have any questions or feedback, we want to hear from you. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.