A Scientist Rebellion activist protests outside COP27 in Egypt.
This Issue: COP27 Actions & Analysis | Ban Private Jets | XR South Korea |
COP27 was a disaster. Yes, world leaders agreed to a ‘Loss and Damage’ fund, meaning the Global South has finally been promised compensation for the destruction caused by Global North emissions.
But yet again, world leaders couldn’t agree to phase down fossil fuels. This fundamental failure, despite nearly three decades of negotiations, cannot be underestimated.
It underlines the fact that while limiting global warming to 1.5°C is still technically possible, politically it is not. Climate scientists have known this for some time, and more and more are speaking out.
The graph shows the relentless rise in atmospheric CO2 levels and global temperature.
There are dangers to delivering such devastating news. Some bad-faith negotiators at COP27 were already using the verdict to try and water down the Paris Agreement. And hubristic articles are lining up to tell us how technology and geoengineering will cool the planet ‘later’.
But by sticking to the fairytale that 1.5°C is possible, we let policymakers hide from their failures and delay the radical action necessary to save lives and ecosystems. And we fail to follow our first demand: to tell the truth.
You can read about some of the beautiful rebel actions around COP27 by heading to Action Highlights. Find out more about why the conference failed, and what this means, by visiting Must Reads. Finally, you can hear from a Rwandan rebel who actually went to Sharm El-Sheikh in a special Humans of COP27.
DRC rebels rally in Shasa market during COP27. The country has unfairly inherited debts taken on by its former colonial occupier, Belgium.
Ultimately, the climate and ecological crisis is a crisis of human overconsumption. And no one overconsumes more than billionaires. The irresponsible elite emit more than a million times more carbon than the global average, and rebels targeted them by blockading private jets around the world. Find out more in Action Highlights.
There you can also find an update from rebels in South Korea, who are nearing the end of an epic court battle over their protest against a vast new floating airport.
Rebels and Scientist Rebellion activists shut down a private jet terminal in Washington, USA - one of a wave of similar actions across the globe.
As 2022 comes to a close, it’s time to face some hard truths. 1.5°C is over, and intolerable suffering is on its way. COP has been co-opted by greenwashers and oil lobbyists, and cannot deliver the policies needed to minimise that suffering.
Nothing less than total economic transformation is necessary now, meaning a move beyond the infinite growth model of capitalism to the sustainable model of degrowth. It is up to us, as part of a movement of movements, to normalise this idea, rather than the competing fantasy that technology and geoengineering will eventually save the day.
Every day we wait, the suffering increases. We don’t have time for fairytales.
The 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: COP27, Ban Private Jets, XR South Korea.
- Action Roundup: South Africa, Malawi, UK, Australia, Italy, Germany.
- Must Reads: COP27, Goodbye 1.5°C, Geoengineering, Degrowth.
- Humans of COP27: David, Rwanda.
- Book of the Month: Saving Us by Katharine Hayhoe.
- Announcements: Solarpunk Showcase 2023, XR Global Blog.
COP Til’ You Drop (Dead)
6 - 20 NOV | Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt
This year’s COP was hosted by a military dictatorship, sponsored by the world’s worst plastic polluter, and staged in a walled-off resort that limited protest to designated zones. It’s fair to say expectations were low.
But that didn’t stop rebels across the world from demanding action from their politicians. Billed as the COP where ‘Loss and Damage’ would dominate, rebels in the Global South made sure that the destruction already being caused by the emissions of the wealthiest states wasn’t forgotten.
In Nigeria, rebels from XR Muslims interviewed rice farmers devastated by the recent floods. Crops, homes, and even lives have been lost as rivers burst their banks more severely every year. The farmers are also being taken to court for defaulting on bank loans that they have no way of paying.
Farmers in Jigawa, North West Nigeria, discuss the devastating floods this September.
In DRC, rebels teamed up with Debt For Climate to stage a performative dance in a market to the east of the country. Activists demanded that the IMF, the World Bank, and former colonial occupiers Belgium cancel historic debts and support communities who are protecting vital ecosystems like the nearby Virunga National Park.
Rebels in South America also mobilised as COP27 progressed. XR Rosario teamed up with other Argentinian activists (and a polar bear) to rally at a Coca-Cola plant. As well as being the world’s No.1 plastic polluter, the COP27 sponsor is also the worst polluter of the local Paraná river.
Women rebels across Colombia spoke out about the damage extractivism has caused to their lives and country. They held public assemblies and marches demanding the cancellation of unjust debts that induce further ecocide.
Rebels in Argentina rally with a polar bear stuffed with plastic Coca-Cola bottles retrieved from the local river.
A small delegation of African rebels made it to Sharm El-Sheikh to take part in the constricted protests around the conference itself. While they joined a global alliance of activists and indigenous leaders to demand climate justice, solidarity marches were held in cities across the world.
COP27 did end with an agreement to establish a Loss and Damage fund. But this fund is still hypothetical, with the tough questions of who pays and how much still unanswered. A similar promise was also made all the way back at COP15 that is still to be delivered on.
Even worse, countries still couldn’t agree to commit to a phase down of fossil fuels. After 27 conferences and nearly three decades of negotiations, there has never been a formal COP agreement to reduce the world’s use of oil and gas.
A solidarity march in London, one of many across the world (top left). Indigenous grandmothers at COP27 (top right). XR Serbia protest outside the UN building in Belgrade (lower left). Rebels from across Africa unite in Sharm El-Sheikh (lower right).
A major reason for this colossal, likely genocidal, failure is the torrent of fossil fuel lobbyists in negotiations, on the conference floor, and even platformed by nation states. COP27 saw a huge rise in fossil fuel lobbyists - with more attending than any national delegation.
With COP28 set to be held in the UAE, a repressive petrostate with worse per capita carbon emissions than the US or Saudi Arabia, that trend is set to continue.
To paraphrase the UN Secretary General, a fund for Loss and Damage is essential, but means little if we allow the climate crisis to turn an African country into desert. The psychopathy on display by the global elite is chilling, and one can only wonder how long Global South countries will consent to a process that condones it.
For more analysis of COP27 and its implications, check out this issue’s Must Reads.
Ban Private Jets! Tax Frequent Fliers!
5 & 10 NOV | Netherlands & Global
Of the 700 protesters involved, 500 successfully made it onto the runway tarmac.
More than 500 protesters, including Dutch rebels and Greenpeace activists, stormed Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport to block private jets on the runways. The action was in response to a government announcement that the airport would be limited to 440,000 flights per year, but that the private jets of the high-emission elite would be exempt.
The scale of the action was made possible by the growing XR network in Amsterdam, with 400 newly-trained rebels involved. These numbers proved crucial: the police had no way of stopping such a mass of people. Bikes that initially served as a means of transportation were used to form a dynamic blockade and distract police.
Rebels locked on to 13 jets and confined many more to their hangars. Usually, 40 jets take off per day at the site. Not a single one managed to during the 8-hour action.
This is what a Dutch blockade looks like! Photo: Reuters/Piroschka van de Wouw.
413 rebels were arrested, but all were released the same evening, despite some heavy-handed tactics by the police. Given the involvement with Greenpeace and the strong anti-elite messaging, the action was certainly a public success.
“The collaboration with Greenpeace showed that you can build this movement of movements…even if you have differences, it can lead to greater actions. Strategic alliances can pack a punch,” one rebel organiser said.
The positive response was not limited to the general public: 5 days later, 2 of 3 parties in the Amsterdam city council voted to push for both a ban on private jets and a kerosene tax at Schiphol Airport, of which they hold 20% of the shares. Victory!
The action also served as the spark for a coordinated global action disrupting private airports in France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, UK, and USA.
Rebels block private airports in Farnborough, UK (top left), North Carolina, USA (top right), Ibiza, Spain (bottom left) and Værnes, Norway (bottom right).
Hundreds of rebels, including more than 100 scientists from Scientist Rebellion, blockaded 11 international private airports to demand a ban on private jets and a tax on frequent fliers.
The actions were part of the Make Them Pay campaign, focused on addressing climate injustice and making the highest carbon emitters pay for their pollution. Private jets are 14 times more polluting than commercial aeroplanes and 50 times more than trains.
“Five years ago, the majority view was that it was unacceptable to be an activist and to speak out if you were a scientist,” said a NASA scientist and rebel involved in the blockade of a private jet terminal in North Carolina, USA. “I think the majority view now is you probably should be doing that because the science is so frightening.”
XR South Korea: Solidarity For Rebels On Trial!
MAR 2021 - Present | Seoul, South Korea
Police struggle to remove rebels from the Democratic Party HQ. The banner reads: “The Democratic Party is a climate destruction party.”
What would you do if your government decided to build a new airport? What if multiple studies showed that this airport would bring no economic advantage and cause huge ecological destruction? And what if the government, fully aware of all that, decided to fast-track the project anyway for reasons of pure political prestige?
That was the scenario faced by XR South Korea back in early 2021, and their response was to launch the country’s first ever lock-on protest. A small group of rebels targeted the then-governing Democratic Party’s headquarters, chaining themselves to its entrance, and climbing onto the canopy above it.
The police reaction was harsh, as the video of the action shows, and so were the courts. The six rebels involved were collectively fined an eye-watering $15000. But XR South Korea saw their action as not only justifiable but necessary, and they fought back. They appealed the court's decision.
Police roughly restrain a rebel before he’s able to lock-on to the building’s entrance.
This led to a lengthy and exhausting trial process. After six court hearings across two years, the rebels now face a final hearing before sentencing on January 17th.
“We are not expecting the fine to be dropped, but we want to raise awareness of the issue and let people know that they are being deprived of democratic participation”, said a South Korean rebel involved.
XR South Korea have created a petition in English to encourage global solidarity for the rebels on trial, and show the government that their ecocide will not be ignored.
Rebel defendants and supporters attend the 3rd trial of their appeal in August.
Activist culture in South Korea is growing, which is important as it ranks as the 8th highest carbon emitting country in the world. “XR Catholics has recently been founded, and we are expecting the launch of Animal Rebellion in South Korea soon”, said our rebel source.
At the moment, however, XR South Korea actions are on hold due to a case of gender violence within the movement. The group is going through a painful process of reflection and rebuilding to ensure safety for all.
“We didn’t pause because actions and building a safer community aren’t compatible, but because it’s necessary to stop the harm from inside and heal first. How else could we tell the world to stop its self-destruction and start taking care of each other?”
11 NOV | Cape Town, South Africa: Rebels deliver a hard truth: believing that Carbon Capture & Storage will allow us to continue burning fossil fuels without damaging our planet is the same as believing that magical unicorns will suck carbon from the air.
15 NOV | Lilongwe, Malawi: 40 Scientists, Researchers and Environmentalists have delivered a petition to the President of Malawi urging his government to ensure that Africa’s needs are met during COP27.
21 NOV | London, UK: After COP27 was overrun with fossil fuel lobbyists, rebels joined a coalition of protesters to visit the offices of companies and organisations linked to the fossil fuel industry. One of the 13 sites targeted for the ‘cut the ties’ actions was insurance company Arch, which pulled out of insuring EACOP a week later. Victory!
25 NOV | Melbourne, Australia: Rebels marked Black Friday, a glorification of overconsumption, by staging a naked protest against fast fashion. There were rebel protests against Black Friday all over the world - including Germany, France, & Ireland.
3 DEC | Bologna, Italy: Days after at least 8 people died in a mudslide on the Italian island of Ischia, rebels from Ultima Generazione staged a protest before the painting ‘The Massacre of the Innocents’ in Bologna’s national gallery.
5 DEC | Berlin, Germany: Days before the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) starts in Canada, rebels demand their government spearhead a plan to stop the dramatic extinction of life on our planet. In the last 50 years, over 70% of the world's population of wild animal and plant species have been wiped out.
So many actions happened this month, we can’t fit them all into one newsletter. Head to NEWSLETTER XTRA to find out about amazing actions in Spain, France, Poland, India, Panama, Scotland, Israel, USA, Norway & more. NEWSLETTER XTRA: A feast for the eyes and extra fuel for the soul!
A protester brings the devastating floods of Pakistan and Nigeria to COP27.
This month’s Must Reads explore the debate over declaring 1.5°C dead, the failures of COP27, terrifying developments in solar geoengineering, and the real solution, shrinking the ecocidal aspects of our economy aka degrowth…
Byline Times: Stop Pretending We Can Limit Global Warming to 1.5°C.
Earth system scientist James Dyke argues that we must confront the fact that we will overshoot 1.5°C. Otherwise, we will lose public trust, and delay genuine solutions like rapid decarbonisation and radically reducing our energy and material consumption.
XR UK: What Happened At COP27? (49 mins)
XR Founder Clare Farrell and Scientist Rebellion climate scientist Dr Charlie Gardner discuss the inaction of COP27, the end of 1.5°C, the vast suffering this will cause, and the danger of letting this failure validate further inaction under a revised 2°C target.
New Yorker: Dimming the Sun to Cool the Planet is a Desperate Idea…
Environmentalist Bill McKibben summarises the increasing efforts to develop solar geoengineering, the unpredictable results, and the terrifying potential side effects.
Al Jazeera: Our Obsession with Economic Growth is Deadly. (25 mins)
Journalist Ali Rae investigates how our economy drives people in the Global North to overconsume, exploits people in the Global South, and devastates our planet. The answer is rejecting the idea of infinite economic growth, and embracing degrowth.
Humans of COP27
COP27 was the first COP I have attended in person. I saw it as an opportunity to gauge how much (if any) progress has been made, and to meet with other activists. However, I was anxious about what the situation would be like in Sharm El-Sheikh, in light of the Egyptian government’s oppressive attitude to civil protest.
I was relieved to find that we activists were able to cooperate and express ourselves relatively freely. I cooperated in actions and discussions with Scientist Rebellion, XR, and other groups from around the world. My main focus for actions was on cancelling Global South debt, and supporting Loss and Damage.
My fellow rebels and I staged sit-ins at hot-spots in the conference complex, holding placards, and raising our voices in expressions of solidarity and demands for climate justice. One message we repeated often was: ‘We meet for all, not for one’.
It was interesting to hear from leaders like Mia Mottley, António Guterres and Al Gore. It was encouraging to hear Al Gore say openly that every new fossil fuel investment is taking us above 1.5 and toward catastrophe. However, talking to activists in DRC about the oil fields still being opened there (among others across Africa) was depressing: their activism hasn’t changed that situation.
I left the Red Sea coast with some hope for a future based on renewables. But I also know that this will demand huge change, and we are out of time. In 2022, Nigeria, Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, among other African nations, suffered severe droughts and floods, including while COP was taking place. These destroy lives, homes, and agriculture, which is a major source of food and employment.
We must urgently take our foot off the fossil fuel pedal. If we do not, we will create millions more climate refugees and destroy millions more lives.
Now, COP15 is taking place in Montreal, and I would love to carry out actions to communicate the biodiversity crisis. We have already lost so many species, and I feel that I have lost much of my ecological identity: I don’t see as many animals as I used to where I live, and the trees I grew up with are disappearing.
In XR Rwanda, we don’t have the funds to stage these actions – but my team and I are planning one anyway, because we must speak out.
After COP27, I reflected on a story I had heard a rabbi tell at an interfaith meeting. A boy was holding a bird in his hands, and he asked his mother, “Is it alive or dead?” She said, “I don’t know, but the life of the bird is in your hands.” This stayed with me. It seems to describe our situation very well.
If you know (or are) a rebel somewhere in the world with a story to tell, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Book of the Month
Saving Us: A Climate Scientist's Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World, by Katharine Hayhoe
Katharine Hayhoe’s latest book offers salvation or disappointment, depending on your perspective. On balance, I recommend it, but it’s not all things to all rebels.
Dr. Hayhoe is an American climate scientist who has built her career in fine-grained modelling for community-level planning. She also speaks on the importance of climate action. As an evangelical Christian, she has cultural kinship with many climate sceptics, and she uses that kinship to reach out and communicate.
Saving Us is a practical how-to on finding kinship, on cutting through apathy and fear. Meet people where they are, use effective, research-based communication methods, and more people will jump on board—and maybe we can make real changes together.
That’s the hope. What Dr. Hayhoe doesn’t address is that systemic injustice is part of the picture. People with power who are actively hostile to climate action are part of the picture. The advice offered in Saving Us will not, all by itself, save us. That’s the discouraging part.
But other tools exist, and we can and should use all of them. And if you find yourself in conversation with someone who seems sceptical, it will be good to have a manual on finding common ground.
Solarpunk Showcase 2023
We can’t stop the future, but here’s a chance for writers of all ages to imagine and help shape the world they’d want to live in. Extinction Rebellion Wordsmiths is opening its second round of Solarpunk storytelling following last year’s successful showcase.
Light up your imaginations, picture a world where we’re more in harmony with nature and ourselves, and have found the technology to help that happen – that is Solarpunk in action!
If you’re new to Solarpunk, read some of our favourite entries from last year. If you’re familiar with it… start imagining!
For more information and inspiration, head to our Solarpunk Showcase 2023 website or email us at email@example.com
XR Global Blog: New Articles Ahoy!
Gabby’s First Kiss: A Solarpunk Showcase winner. Image by Rita Fei.
The XR Global Blog has published more quality content over the last month, including...
Solarpunk Showcase 2022: Gabby’s First Kiss
This Solarpunk short story written by Joe Tankersley and with original artwork by Rita Fei was a winning entry in the ‘19 & over’ category.
Hot Take #5: Soil Gets A Break
Hot Takes are short-form reactions to global eco-stories affecting us right now. This one explores a new report backed by global food and drink giants that suggests the transition to sustainable agriculture is being taken seriously. But should we trust it?
Land Reclamation: A Little-known Environmental Catastrophe
Land reclamation is the process of constructing fabricated land from oceans, seas, rivers and lake beds. Relentless economic growth is driving it, and environmental disaster and human misery are the results.
2 DEC | Sydney, Australia: A Fireproof Australia activist is sentenced to 15 months in prison after peacefully blocking traffic in one lane on the Sydney Harbour Bridge for less than half an hour. The draconian punishment has alarmed the UN.
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.
The 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.