French activists shield themselves from police rubber-bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades during of the Battle of the Mega-Basin. Photo: @noatenjov
This issue: France’s Mega-Basin Battle | Argentina Mono-Forests | XR UK Big One
If the world’s finest scientists announced that our civilisation was in grave danger, and only radical changes made right now could save the day, you’d expect there to be a bit of a fuss.
Yet the new IPCC Report summarising a decade of climate science concluded just that, even after heavy editing by governments safeguarding the oil and meat industries, and it (at best) made news headlines for a day.
Even more amazingly, the governments most culpable for this spiralling disaster have committed to making it worse, greenlighting more fossil fuel extraction and ensuring that the drastic emission cuts that the report urgently calls for are impossible.
This IPCC graph shows how unbelievably badly our governments are doing.
Yet again, our governments and media have shown us that they cannot wield their power responsibly. Which leaves us with no choice but to rely on people power generated by civil disobedience.
In Action Highlights we cover a brutal power struggle brewing over water between the French state and its people, and we report on XR Argentina’s efforts to end monoculture forests that greenwash logging companies before bursting into flames.
For Humans of XR we hear from someone in the newest group of our rebel family, XR Zimbabwe. And in a Raveller Report (courtesy of Raveller, a new ecozine founded by former newsletter writers) we look at the oldest group, asking what XR UK’s upcoming and uniquely collaborative rebellion, The Big One, might mean for the wider movement.
Rebels in Buenos Aires protest outside the HQ of a logging company that is devastating Argentina’s most biodiverse regions. Photo: Julieta Gimenez
Overall, our situation is desperate, and it is easy to despair. But time is on our side (just), we have all the knowledge and tools we need to deal with this crisis, ecoactivism is expanding and evolving in exciting new ways, and progress - is - being - made.
As another season of rebellion begins across the globe and the future of so many hangs by a thread, now is the time to stand and be counted. If enough of us resist, then business as usual cannot continue.
What we choose to do today will resonate across our beautiful planet for thousands, perhaps millions of years. Be brave, harness that loving rage, and join your fellow rebels on the streets.
The XR Global Newsletter is brought to you by XR Global Support, a worldwide network of rebels who help our movement grow. We need money to continue this crucial work.
- Action Highlights: Battle of the Mega-Basin, XR Argentina vs Mono-Forests
- Action Round-up: Italy, Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, Uganda, Austria
- Humans of XR: Jussa, XR Zimbabwe
- Raveller Report: What’s At Stake With The Big One?
- IPCC Must Reads: IPCC Report conclusions and critiques
- Book Of The Month: The Ministry For The Future, by Kim Stanley Robinson
- Upcoming Actions: XR UK’s The Big One
- Announcements: Earth Day Map, XR Disabled Zine, XR Global Support Events
Battle of the Mega-Basin
25 & 26 MAR | Sainte-Soline, France
Earth’s Uprisings shows that activists, farmers and (some) politicians can unite to tackle the climate crisis. Photo: Les Soulèvements de la Terre.
Activists and agriculturalists rallied under the banner of new eco-collective Earth’s Uprisings (Les Soulèvements de la Terre) to disrupt the stealth privatisation of water in increasingly drought-ridden rural France.
30,000 protesters (including rebels) marched to the construction site of one of a series of planned mega-basins - huge open-air water reservoirs that will irrigate industrial agriculture to the detriment of everything else, from small-scale farmers to river ecosystems.
The first wave of protesters aimed to build a peaceful human chain around the mega-basin, but the police response was immediate and extremely violent. The French countryside became a war zone, the air filled with rubber bullets, tear-gas, and the noise of over 5000 explosive stun grenades. 200 activists were wounded, 40 severely, with injuries including grenade shards embedded in their flesh (warning: gruesome imagery). Two remain in a coma.
Security forces even blocked emergency services from assisting the wounded. And this brutal response was to, absurdly, protect nothing but a giant hole in the ground.
Police fired rubber bullets, tear gas, and maiming stun grenades. Photo: @noatenjov
The plan is for 16 state-financed mega-basins to be built in the French countryside, with water collected during the winter, so it can irrigate fields in the increasingly dry summers. But these basins threaten to dry up watersheds, shrink rivers and destroy local biodiversity. The exposed water is also more vulnerable to evaporation and bacterial growth, and will only be made available to 6% of farmers in the region.
Nonetheless, the French government continues to fund and support the initiative. The interior minister has launched an effort to dissolve Earth’s Uprisings - a move denounced by the head of the French Greens. Huge solidarity rallies have taken place across the country, and the protesters refuse to be cowed: “We will continue the fight, despite the intimidation and extreme brutality used by the government.”
Argentina’s Mono-Forests Kill And Burn
21- 31 MAR | Misiones & Buenos Aires, Argentina
Rebels perform outside Arauco’s Buenos Aires HQ. Photo: Julieta Gimenez
To coincide with the International Day of Forests, 18 rebels staged a striking protest-performance outside the Buenos Aires headquarters of Arauco, a multinational logging corporation that has destroyed hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest in the most biodiverse regions of Argentina.
The state-backed corporation has replaced native old-growth forests in Corrientes and Misiones with fast-growing, pesticide-sprayed pine and eucalyptus monocultures which have destroyed native ecosystems, poisoned locals, dried soils, and fuelled by the trees’ innate flammability, caused vast forest fires.
A week after the protest-performance, ten rebels travelled to Iguazú Falls in Misiones, one of the most richly biodiverse national parks in the world. En route, the rebels defaced Arauco billboards along the highway, calling out their years of ecocide. On arrival, they donned animal masks and Green Brigade costumes, winning the attention and enthusiastic support of passing visitors.
Rebels ensure Arauco’s billboards tell the truth. Photo: Marcelo Rodriguez Lobo
By devastating long-established flora and fauna, drying and depleting the soil, and planting concentrated pine and eucalyptus, Arauco is fuelling increasingly extreme and frequent forest fires across Argentina and beyond.
In 2022, wildfires in Corrientes resulted in the loss of over a million hectares of forest and threatened the lives and livelihoods of many, particularly Indigenous people. Arauco is also one of the logging companies fuelling huge forest fires in Chile. In February this year, 326,000 hectares burned between the regions of Ñuble and Araucanía alone.
This series of rebel actions is only the beginning of a campaign planned against commercial logging, deforestation and monocultures. XR Buenos Aires has been steadily growing in recent months, and they are forging links with Indigenous groups on the frontlines of ecological and climate crimes across Argentina.
Follow XR Argentina’s campaign by checking out their social media channels.
The Green Brigade appear at the incredible Iguazú Falls.
5 MAR | Italy: Fountains were dyed green in Genoa and red (with beetroot powder) in Turin to highlight Italy’s increasing water crisis. In the north, the Adige river has a water deficit of -98% and the Po, Italy’s main river, of -90%.
11 MAR | The Hague, Netherlands: Police used a water cannon and arrested about 700 protestors when the A12 motorway was again blockaded by thousands of rebels demanding an end to the vast fossil fuel subsidies paid by their government each year. 100 Scientist Rebellion scientists and academics, and an orchestra, were in attendance.
22 MAR | Worldwide: World Water Day saw actions highlighting issues with water access across the globe, from rebels in Malaga, Spain (above) to women in rural Uganda.
27 - 29 MAR | Vienna, Austria: The European Gas Conference attracted multiple actions. Hundreds of rebels and other protestors, including an eloquent representative from DontGasAfrica, blockaded roads surrounding the conference venue. Activists with We Smell Gas, a new climate justice collective, disrupted a heavily guarded gala dinner, and turned seven of the city’s fountains green to emphasise how green gas is a dirty lie.
So many actions happened this month, we can’t fit them all into one newsletter. Find out about actions in Croatia, Guyana, Norway Spain, USA, & more by reading Newsletter XTRA: A feast for the eyes and extra fuel for the soul!
Humans of XR:
My name is Jussa, I am the country coordinator for XR Zimbabwe. We are a fairly new group, launched during COP27. We conducted a tree planting campaign in December 2022 as our first action. At the moment, we count seven members, but more and more people are taking an interest in us, and we are growing as a movement.
We are motivated to act by the environmental injustice and economic challenges which we are facing as a country. We need to do something against the effects of climate change that are already directly affecting us, try to raise awareness, especially among the youth, and push against policies that are a danger to marginalised communities.
I’m passionate about working with young people and advocating for environmental, economic and gender justice. I feel that young people must participate more in political discussion and be involved in all developmental issues that affect their lives. They shouldn’t wait for the elders to decide for their future.
I come from Mutare, in the province of Manicaland, in the east of the country. In 2019, my home was badly affected by Cyclone Idai. There were many lives and livelihoods lost. That’s when we organised and started doing clean-up campaigns and tree planting. When we came across XR Global, we decided that we need a chapter in Zimbabwe.
We have observed that a radical approach to the environmental and climate challenges we face today is the most appropriate if we want to get the changes that we deserve and need. Many organisations use a meek or soft approach to issues and do not take action. As the XR Zimbabwe chapter, we are fully committed and believe in what we do and have the zeal to push our agenda forward… radically.
We intend to build and transform our chapter into a serious, grassroots, environmental and tax justice movement that decision makers will respect and listen to. Our voice should be loud enough to transcend all corners of Zimbabwe. My personal hope is for the activities of XR Zimbabwe in Mutare to launch more chapters in the country.
And I also hope to see other XR countries coming together, fighting as a big movement and with one voice against the capitalist system that is driving climate change.
If you know (or are) a rebel somewhere in the world with a story to tell, get in touch at email@example.com
Raveller Report: What’s At Stake With The Big One?
The climate movement in the Global North is witnessing a fundamental transformation. After some difficult and complicated years following 2019’s highs and 2020’s lows, it looks like the effort against ecocide is finding the new shape it needs. And XR UK’s upcoming ‘Big One’, beginning on the 21st of April, could be a defining moment in this change.
To many, recent history has a depressingly familiar shape. In 2019 a surge of new movements and energy – foremost XR, Fridays for Future and the Sunrise Movement – dislodged something important in the western climate conversation, and made rapid gains. We moved from ‘climate change’ to ‘climate crisis’. Government policies began to move in something like the right direction.
And then – we lost momentum.
This slowdown had all kinds of causes: Covid, Ukraine, a concerted backlash from authoritarians and billionaires. But the underlying truth might be that we had reached the limits of that phase and form of struggle.
The 2019 wave had plenty of ambition, but quickly found its best success in ‘sounding the alarm’. Where other aims (in XR’s case: strident upgrades to net zero targets, and the serious uptake of citizens’ assemblies) proved difficult to push on, awareness-raising was euphorically doable. Media coverage of our actions was elided easily into coverage of our dire motivations. ‘Coverage’ became increasingly enshrined as our measure of success – or even as success in itself.
But without a deeper basis, this model was always going to hit a moment where gains in ‘awareness’ dwindled, and press attention faltered. As two compassionate American commentators observed, in 2021, “Sunrise’s tactical repertoire is running up against hard limits”; the same was evidently true of XR and FFF.
In 2023, awareness seems about as raised as it’s going to get. We’ve got enough greenwashing to repaint the Sahara, we’ve got mediocre prestige dramas all about how awful climate change could be, we’ve got rainforests worth of surveys about how most people are worried and want way more climate action.
Perhaps way back in the good old days of twenty years ago we might have managed to believe that this ‘first’ phase would be sufficient. It’s harder to be naïve about power now: there are people holding reins, and they not only ‘would consider’ but are literally in the process of committing mass murder in order to preserve their status…
Read the rest of this article by heading over to Raveller, a brand-new eco-zine created by former writers of this newsletter.
IPCC Report Must Reads
After the report’s release, rebel scientists blindfolded iconic statues around the world, including in Copenhagen (left) and Dublin, to demand that world leaders face the facts!
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s synthesis report is here, and the world at large has paid little attention. But what is this report, who gets to write it, and just how accurate are its conclusions? Read on rebel, read on…
XR UK: IPCC Synthesis Report - What Does It Say? What Does It Mean?
Conservation scientist and rebel Charlie Gardner discusses the report with a founder of XR. Their excellent conversation moves into the wider failure of geopolitics to solve the climate crisis, and why people power is the answer.
The Conversation: IPCC’s Conservative Nature Masks Action Needed
Climate scientist Kevin Anderson highlights the report’s overly lenient timelines for emission reduction, and its over-reliance on computer models that champion speculative technologies and replicate global inequalities.
Distilled: How Meat & Fossil Fuel Producers Watered Down the IPCC Report
Governments can significantly edit the IPCC report’s ‘summary for policymakers’ (the section everyone reads, a full report can be thousands of pages). Recommendations for plant-based diets were gutted and carbon capture and storage was inflated.
Heatmap: The Fraught Negotiations Behind The New IPCC Report
Another grisly report on how governments lobbied scientists to weaken the report summary. Saudi Arabia, the USA, and China, all worked hard to soften the summary’s assessments and keep fossil fuels viable. They have blood on their hands.
Book of the Month
The Ministry for the Future, by Kim Stanley Robinson
The Ministry for the Future begins with a harrowing description of a killer heatwave in India. Some might find that a disturbing way to begin a novel, but given that the fictional disaster is entirely realistic, it’s no more disturbing than every-day life, and at least in the book the heat wave triggers an equally believable turn towards real climate action.
And The Ministry for the Future isn’t exactly a novel anyway. It does feature many narrative passages, but relatively little of that follows the doings of the main characters. None of the shifts in viewpoint or format are signalled or explained. There are also essays on economics, philosophy, psychology, politics, and history, likewise without context.
It’s up to the reader to know what is fiction—and how much isn’t. This isn’t a novel. It’s an essay, a vision, a world.
Few creative works take our planetary emergency seriously, but this one does, and does so in extraordinary detail. It is because the book begins with a disaster (and continues on through several more disasters) that when it delivers its note of hope, we can believe it.
The Big One: Everyone Is Needed
21 - 24 APRIL | London, UK
Everyone is needed as XR UK gears up for The Big One - a huge 4-day action, aiming to bring 100,000 people to the Houses of Parliament from 21st-24th April.
The action will see an array of movements and groups, uniting to hold power to account. Over 100 organisations are supporting, including household names such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, War on Want, and Patagonia.
With more than 25,000 members of the public signed up directly with Extinction Rebellion - plus thousands more coming with other orgs - this promises to be BIG! Music, talks, training and family activities will provide something for everyone, while ‘people’s pickets’ and a colourful Earth Day march will ensure our leaders hear the message loud and clear.
More information and programme updates are available on the UK website - where you can also sign up to say you’ll be there.
XR Global Support: Roles Available!
Interested in joining the XR Global Support team and working with rebels around the world? We are looking for rebels who can commit to the following roles…
Training Team: Portuguese-speaking Trainer, Spanish-speaking Trainer, French-speaking Trainer (all 10+ hrs per week)
Regen Team: Fundraising Liaison (3 hrs per week)
Roles are also available in our Arts, Regen, Tech, and Onboarding Teams. The first step to connecting with us is to fill out this volunteer registration form.
For more info on the responsibilities, skill requirements, and time requirements of each role, check out our new website.
Earth Day Map: Register Your Actions!
Before 22 APRIL | Worldwide
EARTHDAY.ORG is the global organiser of Earth Day, and our Earth Day map is the first place that millions of people search for opportunities to support the movement every April.
We are calling for XR organisers to register their Earth Day actions on our map, and for rebels everywhere to use our map to find an Earth Day action near you.
It’s never been more important to turn out for climate action! The world is counting on us to make our voices heard this Earth Day.
XR Disabled Rebel Network: Help Us Create a Zine!
Submissions close 31 MAY 2023
XR Disabled Rebels Network (DRN) is asking disabled rebels from all over the world to submit contributions for a zine (like a small pamphlet) that will raise awareness of the impact of the climate crisis on disabled people.
Email your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Contributions from D/deaf, disabled, neurodivergent people, as well as those living with chronic illness or long term health conditions are all welcome. Please state in your submission whether you want to be named, use a pseudonym, or remain anonymous.
Contributions can be in a variety of forms, including personal anecdotes/written pieces (word limit 1500 words), poetry, letters, photos, and all kinds of artworks. Submissions must be written in English, and all images must be JPEGs.
The deadline for submissions for the first edition is 31st of May 2023
XR Global Support Events
For more events, trainings, & opportunities, visit the brand-new XR Global Support Events webpage.
Mini-rebels take exception to Shell’s sponsorship of a kid’s theme park in London, UK.
Thank you for reading, rebel. If you have any questions or feedback, we want to hear from you. Get in touch at email@example.com.