The Kalahari San - indigenous people whose land has been given to a Canadian oil company.
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When Extinction Rebellion first hit the world’s headlines, it was because rebels were willing to break the law to raise awareness about the climate crisis.
But last year saw a marked shift in climate activism’s relationship with the law. Across the globe communities and organisations have started to use existing laws, and even create new ones, to hold governments and polluting corporations to account.
We’ve seen young people all around the world, from Mexico to South Korea, sue their governments for negligent climate policy. We’ve seen Portuguese youth activists have their landmark case against all 33 European states fast-tracked to the European Court of Human Rights. And we’ve seen a vast array of lawsuits brought against major oil firms by US states, cities, and communities.
The Portuguese youth activists taking their case to the European Court of Human Rights. Photos: GLAN
You can find out more about this flurry of climate litigation in Must Reads, along with some examples where the law is not so much an asset to the climate cause as an ass.
The focus meanwhile for this legal-eagle special issue will be on two campaigns aiming to create new laws for activists to harness in the future.
The Climate & Ecological Emergency Bill was introduced to UK’s Parliament in September and aims to turn XR’s demands into British law. As well as building local support, the team behind it have expanded the legislation so it can be applied to any government in the run up to COP26.
Meanwhile thanks to the Stop Ecocide campaign, a team of international lawyers are drafting new legislation to make Ecocide a crime. One day soon, negligent politicians and polluting CEOs could find themselves in the dock of the International Criminal Court!
Politicians lose their spines before a media mogul in Melbourne. So that’s what happens.
To find out more about both campaigns and get involved, head over to Action Highlights. Aside from legal matters, we’ve also got special reports on rebellion waves in Israel and Australia, and uncover a terrible ecological crime happening in Southern Africa.
Finally, to welcome in the new year we have a new section: Book of the Month. If you’ve read a book you think rebels would appreciate, why not spread the word and send us a mini-review? Keep them to under 200 words and post them here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d like to help, please check out our website and learn more about XR.
To connect to rebels in your local area, get in touch with your nearest XR group. If there’s no active group near you, you can start your own!
If you’d like to see previous newsletter issues, you can find them here.
We are in a crucial phase of human history, and our movement needs money (of course!) to make our message heard. Anything you can give is appreciated.
- Action Highlights
- Action Round Up
- Must Reads
CEE Bill Going Global for COP26
Ongoing | UK & International
Rebels rally outside as the CEE Bill is introduced to politicians in the British Parliament.
A campaign to introduce major new climate-ecology legislation in the UK now has the backing of 89 Ministers of Parliament (MPs) who together represent 6 million citizens, as well as 5 councils and Greenpeace UK.
Written by an alliance of scientists, lawyers, economists and activists (including rebels), the Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) Bill will legally require the UK Government to take urgent and far-reaching climate action, with the terms directed by a Citizens’ Assembly as well as MPs.
The CEE Bill would also force the UK to take responsibility for its overseas carbon and ecological footprint (currently ignored), and do its fair share in reducing global emissions considering it is an advanced economy.
The UK’s only Green Party MP accepts a letter from young rebels before tabling the CEE Bill.
With COP26 scheduled for this November, the team behind the CEE Bill have broadened its contents to create a universal blueprint of emergency measures. The Face the Future 10-Point Plan could apply to the government of any advanced economy, and even be integrated into the Paris Agreement.
The Face The Future team are now calling on activists and organisations around the world to pressure their government to sign up to these 10 principles. The Plan has already been backed by rebels in the UK, France, Italy and Germany.
If you would like your government to Face The Future in time for COP26, then check out these campaigning ideas, take this online training on engaging political representatives, and use these templates to start lobbying your local politicians.
You could even represent your country in upcoming Face The Future meetings - contact email@example.com for more information.
Making Ecocide History!
Ongoing | International
Polly Higgins. Photo: Wikipedia
Fifteen years ago, while looking out of a window during a court case, barrister Polly Higgins had a thought: “The earth is in need of a good lawyer”. So began her lifelong battle to make ecocide - widespread, severe, or systematic destruction of nature - a crime prosecutable in court.
Although Polly Higgins sadly died in 2019, this idea - shared by many others worldwide - is sparking a revolution.
In December 2019, island states Vanuatu and the Maldives called for “serious consideration” of the criminalisation of ecocide at an annual assembly of the International Criminal Court (ICC). In December, Belgium became the first European nation to raise the issue at the ICC. And right now international lawyers are working on a legal definition of ecocide as an international crime that could sit alongside war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Stop Ecocide activists pose in front of a familiar pink boat. Photo: Stop Ecocide
The worst punishment currently faced by people, businesses and states wreaking irreversible destruction on habitats is a fine or an order to pay compensation. Ecocide’s absence from international law represents a gaping hole - and one that could make the difference between our extinction and survival.
If you want to help close this gap, the Stop Ecocide campaign has a number of ways that you can get involved.
Israel Rebellion Brings Big Shit & Blockages.
13 - 27 DEC | Ashkelon, Petah Tikva, Jerusalem.
Rebels in Ashkelon find an alternative use for lengths of pipe. Photo: XR Israel
XR Israel launched a fortnight of nationwide actions last month, with the rebellion wave kicking off in the coastal city of Ashkelon.
40 brave rebels blocked the entrance to both the giant coal-fired Rothberg Power Station and the Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company, whose pipeline pumps millions of barrels of crude oil every day between ports on the Mediterrean and Red Sea.
Rebels managed to block traffic to the sites for two hours and recruit more rebels to their cause. An affinity group focused on the pipeline is now being set up.
A fissure in the pipeline in 2014 flooded the Evrona Nature Reserve with oil, and was labelled one of Israel's worst environmental catastrophes. Nevertheless the pipeline’s operator recently secured a lucrative oil deal with the United Arab Emirates.
Rebels tend to a supersize turd in Migdal Group’s lobby. Signs read ‘Greenwash: Same Shit, Now in Green’ & ‘Diverting Attention, Not Investments’. Photo: XR Israel
A week later rebels in the central city of Petah Tikva entered the lobby of Migdal Group, one of the biggest pension funds in Israel. To encourage the group to stop greenwashing their dirty investments, the plucky rebels brought a big pile of fake excrement with them and basted it with a generous supply of green slime.
Migdal invests over $1.5 billion a year in fossil fuels, and has a history of branding itself sustainable with little evidence. But following the rebel action the company stated it will apply environmental and social criteria to investment choices and ditched recently bought stock in the oil company Delek.
The rebellion wave closed in the capital Jerusalem. 100 rebels disrupted the city for several hours by blocking the two exits of the Ministry of Energy, where the Prime Minister recently raised Israel’s renewable energy target to 30%, even though the current 17% target is far from being met, underlining how talking targets can bear little relation to action on the ground.
African World Heritage Site Plundered for Canadian Oil.
Ongoing | Botswana, Namibia
The Okavango Delta.
The Kavango Basin is a vast water system that spreads across Namibia, Botswana and the Okavango Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the planet’s largest wetlands.
Rather than protect this unique habitat, home to endangered species and the world’s largest elephant population, last year both Namibia’s and Botswana’s governments gave Canadian oil company ReconAfrica the rights to drill it. The company has been given an area bordering 3 national parks upstream of the Okavango Delta, and started drilling test boreholes in December.
Local activists from groups including Frack Free Namibia and Fridays For Future Windhoek have scrambled to mount a resistance since learning of Recon’s plans. With the support of XR Africa and others, they’ve launched an online petition and media campaign to raise awareness.
A Namibian activist with a clear message for ReconAfrica.
ReconAfrica is likely to use fracking to plunder more oil, potentially endangering the water supply of millions of people in a desert region. If this wasn’t bad enough, one area marked for extraction is the home of the Kalahari San, an indigeonous people already stressed by migration and the changing climate.
This story is a stark example of neo-colonialism, with a Western company helping itself to a region’s resources at the expense of all life around it. Expect many more actions, and a growing international campaign, to stop the destruction.
The Rebels of Oz: Brains Heart Courage
7 - 13 December | Australia
Hot off the press - Murdoch lies. Photo: Julian Meehan
A wave of coordinated actions rippled through Australia last month. The ripples started in Melbourne’s Central Business District, where the emphasis was on exposing the planet killing lies of the Murdoch press. Rebels from XR Victoria used tripods, banners and some good old fashioned theatrics to block a major intersection.
A few days later the city hosted a blockade of Victoria’s Department of Health. 4 rebels glued themselves to the entrance while a dozen more staged a ‘die-in’ outside - symbolic victims of the climate and pandemic crises.
Rebels rest in peace outside Victoria’s Department of Health. Photo: Julian Meehan
Melbourne’s rebellion closed with a ‘Festival of Love and Rage’. Rebels disrupted the city by land and sea, with street theatre, a flotilla of canoes on the Yarra River, a bike parade, and a roadblock. 9 festival goers were arrested for their efforts.
Over in Queensland the ‘Defy Disaster’ protest managed to disrupt Brisbane’s city centre for 2 days and draw in over 250 rebels. In an effort to stop the reclaiming of the roads, police arrested 10 marchers.
In Tasmania 9 rebels were arrested after a mass disruption of Hobart’s city centre to protest against ANZ, Westpac, NAB, and Commonwealth - dirty banks happy to fund fossil fuel projects.
And in New South Wales, rebels in kayaks blockaded Newcastle’s major sea port, where a staggering 160 million tonnes of coal passes through each year.
Rebels in kayaks paddle off to disrupt shipments of coal. Photo: Danielle Judd
Action Round Up
3 Jan | Sudan: XR Sudan launched an awareness campaign on the risks of Covid-19 and distributed masks and instructional stickers to passers by.
9 Dec | Poland: In a ‘Walk For The Future’ Warsaw rebels and Polish grandmothers blocked a major highway before being carried away by police. Several were detained, and red rebels waited outside the police station until they were released.
8 - 13 Nov | Argentina: In a wave of actions across the country, rebels demonstrated and performed die-ins to protest against ‘false solutions’ to the climate crisis. Photo: @photoggia
Russia: The small band of activists that makes up XR Russia have done some heroic rebelling over the last 2 years. Watch this inspiring compilation video of their actions.
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.
XR Rebels Beyond Borders: Get Connected!
Do you want to get better connected with the global rebel community in 2021? Do you want to organise cross-country actions, build solidarity in our movement, and learn from each other?
If so please join us all on Mattermost and get involved in one or all of these global affinity groups: XR Global, XR Europe, and XR COP.
XR COP is for everyone who wants to mobilize over the lead up and during COP26 in Glasgow.
New to Mattermost? Join an XR Global Mattermost Training session on Tuesday 19th Jan at 20:30 UTC. Join Zoom Meeting (Meeting ID: 848 9691 7834 Passcode: 223844)
XR Global Media Library: We’ll Help You Get Started!
Become part of the Global Media Library! Upload your stunning content and help us to amplify our XR message all over the world!
Videos, photos, graphics, guides, music... you can share all kinds of XR media! Reach out to XRGlobalMedia@protonmail.com and we’ll provide you with all you need to get started.
Rebels protest the UK Supreme Court’s U-turn on Heathrow airport expansion. Photo: Hannah Woodhouse
Order! This issue’s Must Reads is taking us to court, and in the dock is the law itself. Is it a help or a hindrance to the climate cause? A beacon of hope or a bastion of the Establishment? Read on, rebel! Read on!
Desmog: Climate Litigation Summary 2020
An excellent round up of all the key climate litigation filed last year, with links for each case to find out more.
Grantham Research Institute: Global Trends in Climate Change Litigation
This report published by the London School of Economics analyses key developments in climate change lawsuits around the world between May 2019 and May 2020.
ClientEarth: Latest NewsThis international environmental law charity uses the courts to hold polluting governments and companies to account. Their website is an excellent resource for news about climate litigation.
Vimeo Short: UK Supreme Court Overturn Ruling Against Heathrow Expansion (2 min)
A short film shot at an XR protest outside the UK Supreme Court last month. The Court overturned a recent ruling that building a new runway for Heathrow airport was illegal.
Guardian: The ‘Spycops’ Bill Undermines the Rule of LawA former shadow attorney general discusses legislation that allows undercover police to commit crimes to ‘keep the peace’. Could have major ramifications for climate protests both in the UK and across Europe.
Book of the Month: Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee - Dee Brown
The brutal treatment of Native Americans by white settlers throughout the 19th century, and the development of laws to disempower and manipulate indigenous populations, is a shameful episode too often omitted from American histories and origin myths.
This non-fiction work by an American historian and novelist is one possible entry point to this difficult subject. Originally published in 1970, it is an account of Native American struggles against the arriving settlers, and chronicles a litany of abuses by those settlers in the name of land acquisition - including manipulation, misinformation, and massacre.
Brown’s careful attention to detail illustrates the tenacious resistance of various Native American tribes, along with the insidious ways dominant powers will control the law for their own ends.
Have you read a book that you think rebels would be interested in? Spread the word by writing words! Pen a review of no more than 200 words and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
We are in a crucial phase of human history, and our movement needs money (of course!) to make our message heard. Anything you can give is appreciated.