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It took four agonising days to hear them, but the American people have spoken. They have rejected four more years of fossil fuel promotion and climate science denial. They have elected someone who will rejoin the Paris Agreement and has promised a Clean Energy Revolution. In doing so, they have given all of us something precious: hope.
Of course, the climate crisis is destroying lives today. It’s too easy for politicians to set distant targets and draw ambitious roadmaps, when climate science and lived experience shows action is needed now. And however unified and well-meaning the pledges of governments appear, they offer little comfort when environmental destruction continues with such ferocity on the ground.
The Red Brigade mourn a forest being cleared for a motorway in Germany.
In this issue, we have stories of forests being destroyed on every continent of the world. Even when we know how vital these habitats are to our collective survival, both in their ability to absorb carbon and contain disease, still their global devastation continues. How long can we prize industry, infrastructure, or even just recreation, above life itself?
Also in this issue, we cover the rolling rebellions that launched in four major capitals across Europe, a sign that despite the pandemic, our movement continues to fight for real political progress on the climate, and real protection of our precious habitats.
Italian rebels blockade the HQ of national oil company ENI.
Shortly before losing the election, the outgoing American President sanctioned the opening up of Tongass National park in Alaska to logging, the largest temperate rainforest in the world. We should celebrate when destructive personalities are shown the door. But we have to ensure we are rid of the destructive habits too. The truth is, civil disobedience is needed today as much as it ever was.
If you’d like to see previous newsletter issues, you can find them here.
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- Action Highlights
- XR Unchained
- Must Reads
Fighting for Bugoma Forest
OCT | Bugoma, Uganda & Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo
Ugandan rebels are racing to stop the clearing of swathes of forest to make way for a sugarcane plantation.
Conservation experts have long warned that destroying even a small fraction of Bugoma’s tropical forest ecosystem would have devastating impacts for flora and fauna, and affect the water levels of the River Nile.
Alongside other environmentalist groups, Ugandan rebels joined a 10km run to raise awareness about the clearance, and launched a petition to the Ugandan parliament to stop the destruction.
Photo: XR Uganda
As workers began felling the giant trees in the disputed area, activists and journalists covering the destruction were shot at and arrested by the military.
However, Ugandan rebels believe that there may be a “ray of hope” as the world has woken up to their protest. The Ugandan government is being hauled before the East African Court of Justice and international groups including the EU are condemning the clearance.
The action came mere weeks after rebels in neighbouring DRC took to the streets. Rebels from XR Université de Goma condemned ongoing attempts to license oil drilling in Virunga National Park - a UNESCO world heritage site.
Painted green and covered in leaves, the rebels marched through Goma city and held signs calling for an end to environmental destruction.
Find out more about XR Uganda and their upcoming actions by following them on Twitter.
Photo: XR Université de Goma
Omnibus Bill: Open Season on Indonesia’s Forests
5 OCT | Jakarta, Indonesia
A rebel among the protests (‘Mosi Tidak Percaya’ means ‘Motion of No Confidence’).
The Indonesian government has passed a new law that will devastate the country’s tropical forests - currently the 3rd largest in the world.
The ‘Omnibus bill’ has been sold to the public as pro-business and necessary for the nation’s economic recovery after Covid. But the reality is that the 1000-page bill began life before the pandemic, has been rushed through parliament to avoid scrutiny, and strips away both environmental protections and workers rights to such a degree that even global investors are criticising it. Many of the people who drafted the bill have been linked to the coal industry.
Photo: AntaraFoto/Basri Marzuki
Workers and students across Indonesia have risen up against the bill, but the brutal police reaction has stopped XR Indonesia from officially joining the protests. Thousands of Indonesians have been arrested for simply gathering in public, and reports of police violence and rioting are widespread. At least two students have been hospitalised with head injuries.
XR Indonesia is instead coordinating with other environmental groups to hold a parade through Jakarta later this month. The peaceful demo will be held the day before the Asian Climate Rally and echo its 5 key demands - one of which is to repeal all environmentally damaging laws.
Find out more about XR Indonesia and their upcoming actions by following their Instagram.
Berlin Blockades To Protect The Trees
5 - 9 OCT | Berlin, Germany
German rebels protested against the cutting down of ancient forests to make way for a new motorway by blockading the state construction company responsible for building it.
Rebels surrounded the Berlin headquarters and used a huge dying tree sculpture as well as chains and glue to barricade themselves across its entrance. Several brave rebels stood topless to draw media attention to the destruction. Flares were let off to symbolise the forest burning.
The blockade outside DEGES - Germany’s state motorway construction company.
The Dannenroder forest is the largest to be threatened by the new motorway, and protestors have built tree houses along the proposed route. The forest is home to 200 year old trees, endangered animals, and a key regional water reserve. Treehouse defenders have already been evicted and trees felled in neighbouring forests.
The blockade marked the final day of the Berlin Rebellion, and it was not the only blockade to make headlines. Earlier 300 rebels set up roadblocks that closed off all 5 streets around the national Parliament for several hours. Angry at their politicians for postponing a promised coal phase-out, they called for an ecocide law that criminalised climate and environmental damage.
Rebels bring the wildfires to Berlin by showing fire on their phones.
The coal lobby was targeted when 30 rebels occupied the offices of the German Lignite Industry Association. Several hundred more rebels blocked the street outside and demanded transparency and accountability.
Before they were peaceably ejected by police, the office-occupying rebels threw (fake) documents from the windows - a symbolic freedom of information on fossil fuel vested interests.
As the week progressed, the Rebellion Wave reached the Brazilian embassy to amplify the voices of indigenous defenders and express grief for those who have lost their lives on the climate crisis frontline - people like Macarena Valdes, Paulo Paulino and Zezico Guajajara.
Armed Police Block Rome Rebellion
5 - 12 OCT | Rome, Italy
Rebels blockade the headquarters of oil company ENI.
Italian rebels converged on Rome for thier week of Rebellion, and their first target of protest for Italy’s continued inaction on the climate was their government.
Rebels sang, danced and made speeches on the central Piazza San Silvestro. They then held a mass die-in as the ravishing Red Brigade wandered among them.
When a rebel group headed for the nearby Piazza del Parliament to deliver a declaration to lawmakers, vehicles full of armed police blocked the way, responding to the peaceful protestors as if they were some kind of terrorist group.
Italy’s rebellion opens with a dose of discobedience.
Shaken but undeterred, the Roman rebels used their second day of disobedience to focus on the media. They massed outside news media giant GEDI and created a performative barricade to highlight examples of media greenwashing - notably how GEDI’s leading newspaper has an environmental section sponsored by a car manufacturer and Italy’s national oil company ENI!
ENI's headquarters got a rebel visit, too. The blockade outside its gates lasted an impressive 53 hours as 60 chained up rebels sang and played music to the bitter end. Meanwhile, a rebel letter sent to 2 key finance Ministers called for the government to divest its 30.33% stake in ENI and recognise the oil firm’s long track record of corruption and human rights violations.
Italian rebels - the naked truth.
On the penultimate day of Rebellion, around 400 rebels moved onto the iconic Piazza dell'Esquilino to enact ‘the naked truth’. A few brave rebels bared their bodies in public to draw attention to the media’s silence on the climate crisis.
Even with the week of Rebellion officially over, 8 rebels staged a final sit-in on the steps of Parliament, explaining to passing politicians why the Coronavirus economic stimulus package they just voted for was a betrayal of science and ecology.
Rebel Seas Rise Up in Spain
5 - 11 OCT and 1 - 6 NOV | Spain
Spain’s blue tide flows forward.
Spanish rebels staged local Rebellions across a very impressive 14 cities over the last month. The action kicked-off with some urgent ‘post’ to the Department of the Environment in Madrid. Written on dry wood, the text highlighted the widespread desertification affecting Spain.
Online, there was a lively Facebook Live event exploring the power of ‘Kick(ass)emblea’ (Citizens Assemblies) to unlock democracy. The ‘Monument to the Bull Run’ in Pamplona was also re-dedicated as a warning of the dangers of environmental breakdown.
In Granada, rebels locked-on at a bank, while in Cadiz, traffic was stopped. But in all Spanish cities, die-ins with XR Doctors made visible the past, present and future climate deaths brought about by their government’s inaction.
XR Doctors count the cost of climate inaction.
Madrid’s rebels were forced to delay their contribution to the Spanish Rebellion due to a regional lockdown, but with November started they were able to launch into some delayed disobedience.
First up they marched out and glued-on outside the Ministry of Agriculture - connecting themselves with plants and leaves to show how biodiversity creates a natural barrier against pandemics like Covid-19. Simply put, nature saves lives.
Later they created a giant blue tide in the capital’s main street to represent how humanity is drowning, how extreme weather is displacing people, and how we rebels are rising up!
A rebellious nature protects the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture.
France Makes a (324m) Stand!
11 - 18 OCT | France
Photo: Charles Baudry
Rebels in France issued a call-to-action to the whole world at the start of their Rebellion by revealing their newest recruit - none other than the Eiffel Tower!
The famous landmark of love urged people everywhere to ‘REBEL’, and 9 other cities in France heard its call. 150 litres of fake blood were spilled in central Lille, the University Bridge in Leon was blockaded, and in Orleans adverts pushing over-consumption were given an XR makeover.
Rebels “violently resisting” arrest according to French police.
A beautiful action called ‘The Slow Walk’ took place in Paris, with rebels moving steadily between several symbolic landmarks to highlight our frantic pace of life and how it stops us from seeing the destruction around us.
But rebel pulses quickened during an action at the Ministry of Ecology. Rebels sprayed its entrance green and blockaded the roads around it, locking on and laying down on the rain soaked tarmac. But police came in hard, accusing rebels of ‘violently resisting’ for simply lying there. 8 were arrested and 6 held in police custody for over 24 hours.
Construction companies and concrete manufacturers were also called out for their role in climate breakdown, with concrete production contributing to 8% of global CO2 emissions. Rebels stopped mixers from leaving concrete and cement producer LafargeHolcim, significantly delaying construction of an extension to the Paris Metro.
Once again we have too many actions for one newsletter. Have a read of the full XR Unchained for all those beautiful and courageous actions we couldn’t quite fit in this issue.
Photo: Marcio Isensee e Sá
One of the 5 Sydney rebels charged with obscene exposure for gluing themselves to the Independent Planning Commission - the body that approved the Narrabri Coal Seam Gas Project. The rebels were painted to represent the recent mega-fires that ravaged the country.
XR Global Blog: New Articles Ahoy!
New articles are being uploaded to the XR Global Blog each week. They cover the climate crisis in a straightforward way that means no expertise is necessary! Here are four of our favourites...
Most banks have a very dirty secret. They use your money to fund fossil fuel projects. Here’s a step-by-step guide showing you how to get your cash back from climate collapsing banks.
Have you been trying to explain to a non-XR friend why the work we do is so important? Here’s something just for them! An article explaining the need to Act Now to people who aren’t rebels.
The story of how just one activist transformed Monterey Bay from a giant sewer into a marine sanctuary, even though she knew she wouldn't live to see the result.
You’re out protesting, yet nothing seems to change! But look over the last century and you’ll see a different story. Here are 15 examples of when civil disobedience actually worked!
XR Writers: We Want Your Wins!
Calling all rebels! XR Writers are collecting XR wins - results of an XR action which embody some kind of positive change. Whether it’s changing a person’s mind or a nation’s laws, we want to hear about your victories!
Get in touch with us at email@example.com and we'll give you more details. If you can include when your XR group was established that would be great to know too!
XR Podcast: Economics For The Planet.
XR Global Support: Join Us!
Interested in supporting and working with rebels all around the world? XR Global Support helps resources flow between XR groups and offers support in the form of training, funding, and more.
Roles are available in a wide range of working groups - Media & Messaging, Tech, Fundraising, Participative Democracy, Partnerships, Trainings, Regenerative Cultures, Events, Onboarding.
Check out the calendar for the next Interactive Introduction to XR (a crucial part of the onboarding process) and fill in this form to let us know you're interested! Email questions to XRIntfirstname.lastname@example.org.
XR Global Media Library: Free Training Sessions!
Want to discover amazing XR media content? Or maybe share your own? Learn how to use the XR Global Media Library by joining our next training session!
We’ll provide you with everything you need to get started. Just answer this quick questionnaire and we’ll get in touch.
Howdy rebel. This issue we’ve got a US Election special edition of Must Reads! What are the climate ramifications of a Biden presidency? Green New Deal or Same Old Scam? Read on, rebel, read on!
Carbon Brief: Climate Experts React to Biden’s Victory.
Naomi Klein: We Have To Recognise How Narrow Biden's Win Was.
Chris Hedges: American Requiem
Wrong Kind of Green: The unannounced death of the green new deal
Thank you for reading rebel, and keep up the good work! If you have any questions or feedback, we want to hear from you. Get in touch at email@example.com.
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