Appalachians Against Pipelines (AAP) occupy the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which when completed will pipe gas to a BAE systems factory supplying weapons to Israel.
This issue: Oily Money Out! | Atlanticazo Argentina | A69 Blockade | Palestine
Five years ago, more than 1000 people gathered outside the British Parliament in London for a declaration of rebellion. It was Extinction Rebellion’s first-ever public action, and the declaration finished with the line: “We act in peace, with ferocious love of these lands in our hearts. We act on behalf of life.”
A rejection of violence and a love for all life have been integral to our movement since its inception. That is why we cannot be bystanders to the mass slaughter of innocent people living in Gaza, a slaughter now so sustained and indiscriminate that top UN officials are calling it a text-book case of genocide.
The Israeli government says it is acting in self-defence after Hamas militants committed their own mass slaughter of innocents. But a massacre of civilians cannot justify an even greater massacre of civilians. And such a response will only fuel further extremism and conflict.
Rebels gather for the first-ever XR action in London, on 31st October 2018.
Instead, it resembles the brutal mindset of the old colonial powers. They also subjected their rebellious indigenous subjects to dehumanisation, dispossession, and destruction, as they rapidly extracted resources from their lands and seeded the climate catastrophe that we are now desperately trying to avert.
Today those old colonial powers, so instrumental in creating and sustaining this long and bloody conflict in the Middle East, have chosen to endorse the slaughter, even exacerbate it, while criminalising those who peacefully protest against it.
It is for all these reasons and more that our movement must unite in calling for a ceasefire, and pressure our governments to seek a diplomatic solution that ensures peace, dignity, and justice for everyone living on these lands, irrespective of race or religion.
A protester is arrested after briefly managing to enter the ‘Oscars of Oil’ in London.
The history of Palestine and Israel and the links between this conflict and climate justice are explored further in this month’s Must Reads. We also speak to a rebel with Palestinian roots in Humans of XR.
In Action Highlights we report on the blockade of the ‘Oscars of Oil’ in London, how French police used so much pepper spray during a motorway protest that they set fire to a field, and a wave of action against seismic exploration off the Argentine coast.
Finally, in Solidarity Corner we feature Defend Our Juries, a group resisting outrageous new restrictions being placed on the trials of ecoactivists by British judges, including the banning of any mention of ‘climate change’ in court, so that juries will find them guilty.
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- Action Highlights: Oily Money Out UK, Atlanticazo Argentina, A69 Motorway Blockade France
- Action Round Up: Uganda, DRC, Panama, Bangladesh, Morocco, Tanzania, Finland, USA, South Africa, Netherlands, Italy, Bolivia, Germany
- Humans of XR: Shireen, UK
- Must Reads: Palestine and Israel
- Solidarity Corner: Defend Our Juries
- Announcements: Regen 101, Climate Café
Oily Money Out!
17 - 19 OCTOBER | London, UK
An alliance of protesters including rebels rally outside the ‘Oscars of Oil’.
The activists arrived early in the morning in small groups. As they approached the towering hotel, a beacon of luxury just a short walk from Buckingham Palace, some were wondering if their plan was too ambitious.
But they set to work regardless, blockading each one of the hotel’s entrances. This was the venue for Energy Intelligence Forum, formerly known as the Oil & Money Conference, and casually known as the Oscars of Oil: a three-day summit for the CEOs of Big Oil firms to schmooze with politicians and dish out awards.
Frustrated delegates circled the building, looking for a way in, angered by the chants of the tight-knit blockaders. There were around 400 protesters in all, from an alliance of groups brought together by Fossil Free London. They had come from across the UK, across Europe, and even from as far afield as Uganda and Mexico.
A Ugandan activist with Stop EACOP speaks outside Standard Bank.
In the end, the delegates gave up, with the CEO of Shell having to give his introductory speech over Zoom. After a series of threats, police finally arrested 27 protesters, including a certain Swedish icon. All but one were charged.
Around 70 returned the next day for a noisy protest timed to interrupt a speech from the CEO of Equinor, the Norwegian firm set to drill the UK’s newly approved Rosebank oilfield. The police set up barriers to ensure access, but that forced the delegates to walk alongside the penned-back protesters who gave them a long, loud welcome, later enhanced by a group of XR drummers.
The rest joined Money Rebellion, Coal Action Network, and a samba band for a tour of London’s financial district, beginning with a rally outside Standard Bank because of its funding of EACOP, an ecocidal oil pipeline that will straddle East Africa. The tour ended with the occupation of three buildings housing a total of ten insurance companies.
Rebels occupy a skyscraper housing 8 insurance companies linked to fossil fuels.
Rebels chanted and waved banners in the foyers, demanding that the companies rule out insuring both EACOP and the recently approved West Cumbria coal mine. One rebel group even had a picnic. Police did not interfere, and after five hours the protesters ended their occupations.
The final day of the conference saw sixty health professionals join the action, staging a ‘die-in’ and a ‘climate inquest’ in the road outside the hotel and condemning the delegates inside for their complicity in a humanitarian disaster. Fossil Free London, meanwhile, marched to the headquarters of Barclays and J.P. Morgan, banks known for their grotesque and colossal financing of fossil fuels around the world.
The campaign showed how the climate crisis is being exacerbated by a network of banks, insurers, and Big Oil firms, and also fostered a heartening sense of togetherness among multiple eco-groups. The trials of those arrested will begin next week.
Follow Fossil Free London on Instagram.
Atlanticazo Rises Again!
4 OCT | Argentina
Rebels perform ‘oil tanker’ sounds outside the municipal office of Mar Del Plata.
Imagine being a sea cucumber or a coral or any other species of marine fauna. Whether you’re swimming around, clinging to a rock, or dragging yourself along the ocean floor, the last thing you want is a compressed-air bomb going off every six seconds.
That's what happens with seismic exploration. The explosions are used to map rock formations under the ocean floor to find the best spots for oil drilling. A ship recently left Ghana for the coast of Argentina to start seismically exploring the South Atlantic Ocean for an unholy trinity of oil companies: Equinor, Shell, and YPF, which is semi-owned by the Argentine state. A deep-water exploratory oil well will also be drilled in January.
It has triggered another “Atlanticazo”, a wave of protest by an alliance of activists against the exploitation of the ocean by oil companies. Actions have included disrupting YPF offices, invading a fossil fuel conference, and a special performance outside a municipal building using handmade hose instruments to replicate the sounds of oil tankers. International solidarity was shown by rebels in Ecuador, Mexico, Norway and the Netherlands, among others.
An Atlanticazo rally in Misiones, Argentina (top left) plus solidarity actions in (clockwise) Ecuador, Colombia, and the Netherlands.
The Argentine government first tried to approve offshore oil exploration back in December 2021, but sparked the largest protests that the coastal city of Mar del Plata had ever seen. The movement spread along the coast and across the world, dubbed Atlanticazo in tribute to the “Chubutazo”, an epic campaign where the people of Chubut province successfully resisted a mega-mining project.
The government argues that offshore oil platforms will bring in much-needed foreign currency to pay off the country's huge international debts, but protesters argue that corporate extractivism is what impoverished the country in the first place and will only make matters worse.
Police Ignite Field During Motorway Blockade
21 - 22 OCT | Toulouse, France
A protester kneels before riot police in surrender during a motorway protest.
More than 10,000 people from across France have protested against an unnecessary and environmentally destructive new motorway. Preparatory work is already underway on the A69, which aims to connect Toulouse with the quiet town of Castres 70 km away – despite a national route already linking the two locations.
A group named ‘La voie est libre’ (‘The way is clear’), formed in 2022 to try to stop the construction and save an estimated 200 trees (some hundreds of years old), wildlife reserves, houses that had sheltered families for generations, and at least 500 football pitches worth of land, much of it fertile enough to grow food.
XR Toulouse joined up with ‘La voie est libre’ a year ago, to share civil disobedience tactics and support their struggle. After staging multiple smaller actions, they jointly organised an 8,000-strong protest against the A69 in April. This latest resistance, after three months of planning, saw an even bigger turnout.
Thousands join the anti-A69 march through the rural southwest of France.
Thousands of people, young and old, urban and rural, came together to march, cycle, and drive tractors along the existing route, passing open farmland and quiet villages before congregating in a field where organisers provided food, marquees, kids’ entertainment, and more. Some protestors built a barricade across the marching route.
The next day, a group of activists tried to set up a ZAD (Zone to Defend) in an empty house on one of the construction sites, but were forced out by riot police swinging batons and firing tear gas. The violence spilled into a neighbouring field where protestors, some with children, were camping (with permission) and looking forward to a talk by renown climate scientists. The police let off so much tear gas that the field, parched after Europe’s heatwave summer, caught fire.
Police charge protestors and release copious amounts of tear gas.
The A69 was first proposed thirty years ago by a pharmaceutical and cosmetics company, and their tireless lobbying finally persuaded the French government to go ahead with the project in 2006. It is set to cost 20 euros for drivers to access the road, making it unaffordable for the majority of locals who are on low-incomes.
At least nine people were arrested and are awaiting trial, and many were injured by police. Meanwhile, the French Interior Minister is seeking evermore repressive laws against climate activists and protests in general, as seen in his recent effort to ban all pro-Palestinian protests across the country.
The alliance of activists involved in the blockade are taking time to recover and plan next steps. There is a vision to turn the A69 into a cycle highway, with regenerative projects along the route, like a centre for teaching people about eco-building. Despite intensifying state and police violence, these citizens are determined not to give up.
Action Round Up
6 OCTOBER | Kampala, Uganda: Activists with Justice Movement Uganda are pepper sprayed by police during a peaceful protest against EACOP outside TotalEnergies headquarters. Three weeks later, two peaceful Stop EACOP protesters were arrested and imprisoned overnight. A UN official has said the repression of peaceful protest in Uganda is “very disturbing”.
11 OCT | Isangi, DRC: Another new rebel group is born thanks to the ‘Petrole Non Merci’ campaign of XR Goma University. The city of Isangi is located in a region renowned for its abundant peat bogs, land which has been earmarked for oil development by the Congolese government. Local people have formed XR Isangi to protect their land from extraction and destruction by international oil companies.
12 OCT | Worldwide: Thousands of people around the world, including rebels and Debt 4 Climate activists, rise up to demand the cancellation of the debt crippling the Global South. The global day of action, which coincided with a meeting between the World Bank and IMF in Marrakech, Morocco, saw mobilisations across Europe, South America, Asia and Africa. There was also a counter-summit in Marrakech, attended by a coalition of activists. Global South debts are tiny compared to the estimated $7.9 trillion in climate reparations owed to the region by the Global North. Photos (Clockwise from top left): Panama, Bangladesh, Morocco, Tanzania.
9 - 15 OCT | Helsinki, Finland: XR Elokapina launch their forest rebellion, a week of slow marches to highlight the exploitative and ecocidal environmental policies of their government. A key demand was to stop the felling of a 400-year-old forest neighbouring the capital.
16 OCT | Appalachia, USA: Dozens of activists with AAP, including indigenous Americans, occupy two construction sites of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). Banners and armlocks highlighted the connection between the pipeline and the genocide in Gaza. MVP will pipe gas to a BAE Systems factory that supplies white phosphorus and other weapons to Israel. Construction was paused for the day, and five arrested activists spent the night in jail.
17 OCT | Cape Town, South Africa: Rebels are joined by bus-loads of pro-oil/gas protestors on the opening day of African Energy Week, a conference focused on fossil fuel expansion and greenwashing rather than clean, cheap renewables. It turned out the pro-oil/gas protestors had been paid to turn up, and when they heard about the true impact of fossil fuels, many apologised for being on “the wrong side” and asked to join the rebel protest.
23 OCT | The Hague, Netherlands: Rebels from the action group ‘Justice Now!’ rally outside the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, in solidarity with the Palestinian people and in condemnation of the war crimes by the Israeli state.
23 OCT | Rome, Italy: 100 rebels dressed as Pinocchio block the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport. Some chained themselves to the entrance, some locked on to each other, others scaled poles in front of the building - all to denounce the climate denialism of their government. 40 rebels were dragged to a nearby police station and held for over eight hours. 5 were expelled from Rome for up to two years.
25 - 26 OCT | Washington DC, USA: Rebels and ecoactivists from across the US rally outside a luxury hotel to confront industry executives and government officials attending the North American Gas Forum. They blocked the car of a top official trying to leave the conference, were cleared by police, then re-blocked it as it reached a nearby street. The next day, rebels shut down the construction of a $4.5 billion gas pipeline in the capital.
26 OCT | La Paz & Santa Cruz, Bolivia: Rebels rally outside government ministries demanding action on the wave of forest fires sweeping the country. They want sanctions against those responsible, law changes, and an emergency to be declared. XR Bolivia promises more actions if these demands are not met.
28 OCT | Berlin, Germany: Although XR Germany cancelled the action days earlier due to the “tense global political situation”, a thousand protesters, including rebels, activists with Scientist Rebellion and Last Generation, as well as a delegation from XR Netherlands, still blockaded a major street to stop fossil fuel subsidies. The action was inspired by the success of the similar campaign in the Netherlands. Some activists glued themselves to the tarmac. Police used pain holds as they dragged them away.
28 OCT | Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Australia: Rebels and activists with Disrupt Burrup Hub rally outside multiple ABC studios after the broadcaster agreed to pass confidential footage of ecoactivists onto the police. An ABC crew were embedded with Disrupt Burrup Hub as they planned a protest against an enormous gas project on sacred Aboriginal land. The move was called ‘a chilling breach of trust’.
Humans of XR
My name is Shireen. I’m of Palestinian/Lebanese/Syrian heritage, was born and raised in the United States, and now live in London. I’ve been an activist my whole life – from a young age I’ve always known that you have to speak out against oppression, because the stakes are too high not to.
Growing up in diaspora, I quickly understood our loss of home and country. It was talked about constantly. We protested, gave money to charities, and boycotted. I saw my parents and family standing up, so I stood up. I was also impacted by the Quaker influences in my life, from my mother’s side of the family and from my schooling.
Growing up as a young Arab American in the 80s and 90s, the media was so unrelentingly biased and inaccurate about anything related to Palestinians that it felt like you were constantly under attack. Society, at that time, was often ignorant and racist against Arabs. It felt suffocating if I didn’t speak out. I found outlets in protesting, literally feeling myself being present to say “I don’t support this,” and being able to assert our history in an environment that wilfully excluded it.
I wrote papers in school and college about Palestinian reality under Israeli occupation, and became active with Students for a Free Palestine (a predecessor to SJP). We held talks, die-ins, replicated checkpoints – we worked hard to insert Palestinian perspectives into what was a very hostile environment. After college, I moved into working in public health, focusing on human rights for marginalised communities in the SWANA region, including Palestinians.
I always knew that the planet was in trouble, but I never really saw the connection until my husband pushed me to get my head out of the sand. I did, and I panicked. Then I got involved. As with my activism around Palestine, being active against the Climate & Ecological Emergency (CEE) helps my mental health. I couldn’t be on the sidelines just letting harm happen, not doing anything.
As I learned more about the climate crisis, I learned that it is also an issue of justice with links to colonialism. These aren’t the headlines when it comes to the CEE, but they are the bones of this calamity. It’s taken a lot of time and learning for me to make these connections, but there is no future without climate justice through an anti-colonial lens.
Right now, I’m trying to manage my visceral response to the Israeli state’s genocidal attacks on Palestinians in Gaza. It’s been paralysing and galvanising at the same time. Most of my energy is going towards platforming voices from Gaza and helping friends gain a broader perspective of what’s happening. And of course, attending marches.
In spare snatches of mental space, I am very involved in the XR Global blog. We publish articles to help share XR’s view on climate related topics, always trying to platform voices from the Global South. I’m also active with XR Wordsmiths, where we just finished a beautiful Solarpunk writing project, and am part of XR Lewisham.
I am motivated by visions of a better world for my children and every child on Earth. We owe it to them. We stand on the shoulders of giants, from Harriet Tubman to Edward Said, and must keep their legacy of astounding courage and moral clarity alive. Empires fall, the world is constantly changing, and that also motivates me.
What I love about activism is the connection to other people and being surrounded by love. Activism comes from a place of love, and you feel that. I love seeing people change, on a personal level – whether it’s their actions or political outlook, seeing the impact you can have is heartening.
The challenge is that change doesn’t happen quickly enough and there are so many battles to fight, it can feel exhausting and overwhelming. Balancing activism and being present for my family in the way that I want to be can be difficult.
There is a concept that is central to the Palestinian struggle: ‘sumoud’, steadfastness. I look at our history of resistance, and am so inspired by this indefatigable fight that Palestinians have in them. We have been occupied, dispossessed, walled in, deported, starved, made homeless, blamed, tortured, expelled, blockaded, maligned, imprisoned, bombed, are currently being killed with genocidal intent, and still Palestinians respond, “We will not leave our land”.
That kind of courage is a call to action for everyone. The stakes are too high to not do anything, about Palestine and about preserving our planet. If there was one message I’d like to share with the global XR community, it is: ‘sumoud’ – keep going.
If you know (or are) a rebel somewhere in the world with a story to tell, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
XR Peace prepare banners for the Big One in London, UK in April this year.
This month, Must Reads is dedicated to the conflict between Palestine and Israel: its history, its present reality, and how it relates to our own struggle for climate justice and the preservation of all life.
Article: What’s the Israel-Palestine conflict about?
This simple guide by Al Jazeera explains one of the world’s longest-running conflicts, unpacking key moments like the Balfour Declaration, the Arab revolt, the UN partition plan, the Nakba (“Catastrophe”), the Six-Day War, the Oslo Accords after the first Intifada (“Uprising”), and the blockade of Gaza after the second.
Video: Ta-Nehisi Coates on Palestine (27 mins)
Author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates speaks to Democracy Now about his recent journey to the region, his shock at how closely it mirrored the segregationist America resisted by Martin Luther King Jr., and his commitment to non-violent opposition to Israel’s apartheid regime.
Article: Everybody Wants Gaza’s Gas
The oil and gas reserves off the Mediterranean coast are worth $500 billion. But according to the UN, Israel does not have sole legal entitlement to it. Some is in Palestine, and much of the rest beyond national borders, meaning it must be shared by both parties. Israel’s invasion of Gaza in 2008 illegally brought the Palestinian gas fields under sole Israeli control. The UN estimates billions of dollars in loss for the Palestinian people.
Article: The Political Economy of Israeli Apartheid and the Spectre of Genocide
Written in 2014, this analysis ties the Israeli state’s increasingly genocidal views towards Palestinians with changes in Israel’s economy, namely a burgeoning hi-tech-military-security sector requiring testbed conflict, and cheap labour from the Global South making Palestinian workers increasingly surplus to demand. The author worried genocide might loom. He has been proven terrifyingly prescient.
Article: The ‘Desert’ Was Already Blooming
An exploration of the links between colonialism and climate breakdown being experienced by Palestinians, and how climate justice means freedom for all. Features infographics by Visualising Palestine.
Article: Israel’s Environmental Apartheid in Palestine
An overview of how Israel has exploited the environment in Palestine/Israel, dispossessed Palestinians of their natural resources while leaving them with the pollution of that exploitation, and greenwashed the ecocidal nature of its actions.
Solidarity Corner: Defend Our Juries
A doctor literally upholds the law at the Inner London Crown Court.
Jurors in the UK have an absolute right to acquit a defendant according to their conscience. But it seems that this right, which has existed since the 17th century, is now seen as a threat to the British establishment following a series of jury acquittals where activists were cleared of wrongdoing despite having “no defence in law”.
In response, judges have started limiting what defendants are allowed to say in front of the jury, sending people to prison for saying “climate change” or “fuel poverty” when stating their motivations. As one former government lawyer put it, “what does the right to fair trial mean if you can’t speak and explain why you did what you did?”
In March, a retired social worker held up a sign outside court stating a jury’s right to decide on the basis of their conscience, and was promptly arrested. Ironically, she was sent to the Old Bailey, a criminal court in London, where a plaque bearing the same message is proudly displayed.
People sit outside the Old Bailey, bearing the same message as a plaque inside.
The shock of this arrest reverberated beyond the usual activist echo chambers, with people from all walks of life protesting the increasing corruption of the criminal court system. The placard-holding protests proliferated, and 40 people, including a priest and an Olympic athlete, wrote to the government to demand it “prosecute them too”.
Soon after, Defend our Juries was born, a campaign dedicated to protecting the rights of jurors and defendants from the Government’s escalating attempts to undermine them. In September, the campaign held its first national day, with 252 people gathered around 25 crown courts across the country.
A spokesperson described the movement as highly intersectional, with Extinction Rebellion, Palestine Action, Quakers, Insulate Britain and Just Stop Oil activists sitting alongside former policemen and lawyers.
It is the latter for whom this issue cuts deepest, the spokesperson continued; fair trials by jury are what prevent abuse of power by courts, police, and ultimately the government. This affects the entire country.
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. The workshop is a beautiful introduction to Regenerative Cultures for those new to XR, and an essential experience for those already involved.
Regen 101 is an experiential, practical, and educational workshop that explains Earth Emotions, Self-care, Burnout, and Emotional Debriefing, leaving the group with an understanding of embodied Regenerative Activism.
We make great efforts to centre the Regen101 workshop on systems of care, deep listening, decolonisation, inclusion and welcoming new perspectives respectfully.
The first Regen 101 workshop was held in August 2019 in Sydney, and the Regen 101 Booklet was developed during the later Black Summer Fires. It is a love letter to the three billion animals lost.
If you would like to organise a Regen 101 workshop for your organisation, contact email@example.com
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 for the Climate Café on Wednesday 29th November 2023 from 7:00 AM to 8:30 AM UTC
For more global events and trainings, visit XR Global Support Events.
16 OCT | Dimitrovgrad, Bulgaria: Greenpeace activists from Bulgaria, Austria, Croatia, Czechia, Greece, Hungary, Poland and Romania team up to paint ‘CRIME’ on the cooling tower of a pollution-spewing coal power plant.
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.