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This summer has seen a terrifying escalation of extreme weather. Every day seems to bring another record-breaking heatwave, another devastating flood, another uncontainable wildfire.
Last week the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published their latest report.
Eight years in the making, involving hundreds of experts, and signed off by nearly 200 governments, it represents the global consensus on the science of climate change.
Its basic conclusion: things will inevitably get worse. Drastic action is urgently required to ensure things don’t get catastrophically worse. And this is all definitely our fault. Humanity is guilty.
Of course, we are not all equally to blame. While those who have done the least to cause this chaos starve to death among arid fields, those who have done the most compete with one another to leave the planet altogether.
The same governments that agreed on the IPCC report’s findings will soon meet at the UN’s climate conference, COP26, to negotiate a policy response.
COP26 is being billed by those world leaders attending it, and much of the world’s media, as the place for a climate crisis turning point, the moment when words must become action, and this spiralling emergency is finally brought under control.
But what is COP26? How does it work? And if this is where we are after 25 of them, why would the 26th be any different?
In this issue we take a sober look at COP26. For a brief history of these ongoing ‘Conference of Parties’, and the problems that must be overcome in November, head to Action Highlights.
There you will also find a range of expectations for the summit from informed rebels across the world.
For a basic guide to COP26, as well as deep dives into what must be achieved there and how the negotiations actually work, head to Must Reads.
Finally, this issue has a fascinating piece on rebel protests in Australia, triggered by their environment minister’s appeal against a landmark court ruling stating that she has a ‘duty of care’ to protect young people from the climate crisis.
In the face of such random devastation, such billionaire folly, such down-to-the-wire political complacency and cowardice, it is easy to let our anxiety turn to despair and despondency.
But we must not let it. We must turn it into rage, into loving rage, into rebellion.
We must meet with our fellow rebels on the streets, join the international wave of rebellions about to begin, and show our political leaders that this ‘new normal’ is not acceptable.
The Global Newsletter is brought to you by XR Global Support, a worldwide network of rebels who help new XR chapters grow. Read previous issues here.
We are in a crucial phase of human history, and we need money to make our message heard. Anything you can give is appreciated.
- Action Highlights: A Brief History of COP, Good COP, Bad COP?, XR Australia
- Action Roundup: Sweden, USA, UK, Argentina, Colombia, Bangladesh, Spain…
- Upcoming Actions: Nordic Rebellion, UK Impossible Rebellion, XR Earth Fast
- Announcements: Solarpunk Story Showcase, XR Youth Uganda Tree Crowdfunder
- Must Reads: COP Special
- Book of the Month: Climate Action by Georgina Stevens
- Humans of XR: John, 64, Scotland
A Brief History of COP
1-12 NOV | Glasgow, Scotland
What do the delegates at the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) need to agree on for it to be considered a success? What, if anything, have previous COPs achieved? Should we be hopeful that this year will lead to a breakthrough?
Delayed for a year by the pandemic, COP26 is cited as critical, ranking in significance alongside 1997’s COP3, when the Kyoto protocol was established; and the 2015 COP21, which led to the Paris Agreement to keep global temperature rise below 2°C, and preferably at 1.5°C.
Despite the ‘breakthroughs’ at COP3 and COP21, a UN report last year confirmed that even if current emission reduction pledges under the Paris Agreement were fulfilled, the world would still be headed for a catastrophic 3.2°C increase this century. The levels of ambition in the Paris Agreement must be tripled to achieve 2°C, and increased more than fivefold for 1.5°C.
COP26 must also agree on a response to extreme weather events, particularly in the global south, where millions are already suffering from severe climate change. Organisations such as Climate Action Network are urging developed countries, which are largely responsible for the climate crisis, to include the impact of their historic greenhouse gas emissions in setting new targets; this is referred to as ‘fair share accounting’.
But wealthier nations are yet to even deliver on the promise made at COP15 in 2009, to provide at least $100bn per year by 2020 to assist developing countries adapt to climate change.
Finally, COP26 needs to either make its agreements binding (existing Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs come under a nonbinding section of the Paris Agreement!), or set up systems to enforce and monitor these commitments for years to come.
The last COP in Madrid completely failed to resolve these issues, despite running two days over schedule. There was little progress on NDCs, with industrialising economies such as China and India arguing that rich countries must lead, all while adopting more modest targets, themselves. There was also a focus on carbon markets at COP25, seen by many as a scam to enable rich countries to continue burning fossil fuels while paying poor countries to deal with the negative impacts.
Is there reason to believe things will transpire differently this year? Not really. The G7 summit in June, for instance, failed to make any meaningful progress on climate finance; they couldn’t even agree on a timetable for the phase-out of coal. The Climate Ambition Summit last December showed how far off track we are on Paris Agreement goals: over 60% of countries have yet to submit new NDCs, and the 74 countries that have submitted them represent just 13% of global CO2 emissions.
Will our appointed leaders fail us again, even at this eleventh hour? Probably. Can the continued escalation of worldwide nonviolent protests get us to a solution that the science requires? We think so!
Good COP, Bad COP?
AUG | Everywhere
As we near the next big international UN climate summit, we asked rebels around the world – from Indonesia to New York City, Uganda to the UK – to tell us how they felt about COP26. Hopeful? Fearful? Angry? This is what they said.
Melissa, XR Indonesia
Personally, I am not hoping for much from COP26 itself, as most negotiations are done with the basic interest of protecting existing economies’ structures. Anything we do with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as an anchor, will not result in the climate justice that we deserve. However, I am hopeful that COP26 will serve as an additional spark of momentum for a greater thirst for change to come in our respective countries, as leaders will no longer be able to hide their fake solutions and bullsh*t commitments, which should propel a proper system change everywhere.
Moussa, XR Senegal
Land of drought, deforestation, famine, flooding, precariousness: Africa contributes just up to 4% of greenhouse gases. COP26, we want the truth.
Cathy, XR COP26
I fear that power politics will dominate COP26, and the rich world will fail to act to repair the global catastrophe their emissions have created. It would be transformative for the whole of humanity if immediate, just, and enforceable decisions are made keeping temperatures below 1.5 degrees heating, and if these solutions are rooted in Nature.
XR Rebel, Africa
As only government affiliates get to be involved in decision-making during the summit, collaborating in greenwashing with COP26 organisers, any results are ruined. COP26 will misrepresent deadly climate change, as well as the ecological and social crisis situation on the ground. We are not hopeful!
Clare, XR UK
COP is set up to fail humanity again. International negotiations never had the mandate to change the rules that drive the crisis, nor a mandate to address the economic model that drives the crisis. It’s always been a decade behind the green movement; a theatre of concern rather than a platform for global change. This is why we rebel.
Dag, XR Norway
The COP negotiations have failed us for more than thirty years. Norway, for example, is a vocal proponent of international climate negotiations and proudly boasted that it was one of the first nations to sign the Paris Agreement in 2015. Yet it continues to heavily subsidise oil exploration. This kind of hypocritical theatre sabotages the COP negotiations.
Emma, XR Youth Uganda
The world cannot turn a blind eye any longer when climate crisis issues here are so critical. They do not give us enough media because we are in Africa. We will be the media ourselves, then.
Eric, XR NYC
I wish politicians would stop talking and start doing something to actually reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the air. So much of what they say are merely goals for 2030 or 2050, rather than actual reductions in today’s levels. But the record heat in British Columbia and Sicily is happening in 2021 – this summer, not decades from now – as are record floods in China and Germany, and all the wildfires around the world. Act now, before it’s too late.
Rebel, XR Rwanda
It would be better if we realised we are all indebted to the planet in some way. The test is whether we are still willing to identify responsibly and honestly with that debt and act urgently.
Orthalia, XR South Africa
Africa’s situation deserves extraordinary attention at COP26. African countries need a platform to address their needs: the continent contributes the least emissions but suffers the brunt of the consequences. Developed countries need to stop shifting their climate responsibilities, particularly regarding the cumulative greenhouse gas emissions.
Duty of Care: Rebels Paint Parliament
6 & 10 AUG | Canberra, Australia
On 8 July, the Australian Minister for the Environment was found in federal court to have a legal ‘duty of care’ to protect young people from the climate crisis. She immediately appealed. We are appalled.
Rebels responded with an escalating series of disruptive ‘duty of care’ protests. Following some artistically bloody mayhem at the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, resulting in five arrests, rebels returned two days later covered in fake blood, splashing red paint over the floor, and supergluing themselves to the reception desk. Eight more arrests were made.
Environment minister Sussan Ley is reminded of her ‘duty of care’ at her workplace.
Even more dramatically apt was the action at Parliament House a few days later, where rebels glued themselves to the courtyard, spray painted the outside walls with ‘Duty of Care’ and set fire to a baby pram. They also spray painted the fence of the prime minister’s residence. This action finally got both the media attention and publicity the rebels had been seeking, as news outlets scrambled to cover the drama and XR recruitment numbers surged. Again, eight people were arrested, this time with seven remaining in prison on remand.
Rebels send a clear message to Australia’s Minister for the Environment.
In a predictable response from a leader who in a recent press conference effectively blamed climate change on the developing world, prime minister Scott Morrison decried the actions as “selfish protests” and “foolishness”. He neglected to acknowledge the fact that by appealing against the federal ‘duty of care’ ruling, the government is selfishly fighting for its right to continue damning future generations.
A painted plinth exposes the government’s criminal negligence.
More heartening was the response of the judges, who have repeatedly articulated that they respect the rebels’ actions and care about the endangered future of their own grandchildren. Running into some arrestees in the supermarket, one judge even said “I’m glad I bumped into you because it gave me some atonement.”
Connect with XR Australia and follow their progress here.
6 AUG | New York, USA: Topless rebels blockaded and glued themselves to the lobby of NBC studios, demanding the network news corporation tell the naked truth about the Climate Crisis. Photo: Alex Nawrocky
2 AUG | London, UK: A rebel priest who is part of XR Christians sews his mouth shut outside News Corporation to protest Rupert Murdoch’s role in muting climate science. Photo: Joshua Windsor
1 AUG | Bangladesh: Young climate activists protest COP26, saying the climate conference is not inclusive, especially the pre-COP to be held in Milan. They do not feel represented.
1 AUG | London, UK: Rebels joined Pan-Afrikan groups in a Reparations Rebellion to protest the continuing destruction and exploitation of the Global South by the Global North.
30 JUL | Argentina, Colombia, Ireland, Canada (all pictured): Rebel groups across the world united to protest against fracking, and the climate colonialism that enables oil companies to devastate the Global South by bringing shale gas to the Global North.
25 JUL | Spain: Lone rebels blockaded the roads and squares of cities all across Spain for a coordinated Rebellion of One. You can watch a compilation video featuring many more. Sign: It terrifies me to know that the youngest have no future because of the Climate Crisis.
15-17 JUL | UK: Animal Rebellion blockaded the one factory that makes burgers for all McDonalds restaurants in the UK. 50 rebels camped outside, locked-on, mounted structures, and scaled the roof, blocking nine million burgers for over 62 hours.
Nordic Rebellion: Ban Oil, Don’t Ban People!
21 – 29 AUG | Oslo, Norway
We have a duty to disobey a system that destroys life on earth and is deeply unjust.
This August we will enter the North’s oil capital in the largest Nordic Mass-Action ever!
Many of us will join open actions and face arrest and charges. Take the pledge to be arrested in Oslo this summer. Your courage is crucial to change this toxic system!
Schedule: 21st: ARRIVAL | 22nd: TRAINING | 23rd – 28th: REBELLION | 29th: DEBRIEF.
Rebel in unity across borders – sign up here!
The Impossible Rebellion!
23 AUG – 5 SEP | London, UK & Online
The Impossible Rebellion will have two key elements:
CRISIS TALKS: Everyone will be invited to the table for our very own Crisis Talks – and we mean that literally! To embody the power of Citizens’ Assemblies, tables will become a creative symbol of this Rebellion: to build things, to block roads, to paint, to share food, to talk to each other.
DISRUPT THE CITY OF LONDON: By focusing on the City, the Rebellion will target the root cause of the crisis, the political economy. We need to build pressure on the biggest financial institutions that are fuelling this emergency, and start a ripple effect for other institutions to pressure the Government.
XR Earth Fast: It’s Now or Never!
28 AUG | Global
On 28th August 2021, XR Earth Fast will start in camps around the world.
Inspired by the Tibetan Hunger Strike camps and the many brave activists through the ages who have used this form of protest for the greater good, rebels will be fasting for different lengths of time – from a couple of days, to indefinite fasts – until all our demands are met.
2021 is the most important year in human history. It’s now or never!
For more info and Global registration, visit the XR Earth Fast website.
Solarpunk Storytelling Showcase: Submit Your Story!
14 SEP Deadline
XR Wordsmiths have launched a Solarpunk Storytelling Showcase!
You can give us a vision of the far future or the near future! You can make your vision as realistic or as strange, alien, and outlandish as your imagination allows.
But place it in a future where the inhabitants of this Pale Blue Dot have moved beyond the climate and ecological crisis that currently threatens it and created something better!
XR Youth Uganda: Tree Planting Crowdfunder
6 OCT Deadline
XR Youth Uganda is crowdfunding for a tree-planting project across the Arid and Semi-Arid counties of Northern Uganda.
The aim is for young tree lovers from frontline communities to plant over one million trees by the end of 2021.
XR Global Blog: We Want Writers!
Do you think something’s missing from media coverage of the climate and ecological crisis?
Do you have a burning desire to write about the crisis and what it means for life on this planet?
Do you want to share your writing with a global audience and be part of a diverse creative team?
If so, you should write for the XR Global Blog!
No prior writing experience is needed, only passion and a willingness to get involved. Those who do not have English as a first language should get in touch, too!
Reach out to email@example.com to find out more. The team would love to hear from you!
Temple of the Lost Future Art Exhibition: Submit Your Art!
27 SEP – 3 OCT | Milan, Italy
XR MILANO is organizing an international art exhibition during the Pre-COP conference at the end of September.
We’re inviting all artists to participate by sending work that illustrates a new way to communicate the ecological and climatic crisis.
For more information write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Letters To The Earth: Make Your Voice Heard Before COP26!
Letters to the Earth are gathering your messages for a better future.
Download letter-writing toolkits to take to your schools and communities. They are filled with creative prompts, nature connection activities and educational materials.
The campaign will be bringing your messages to life, sharing them with people around the world.
What do you have to say? The post box is open!
Welcome to Must Reads, rebel. What is COP26? How can I join the protests there? What needs to happen for the COP21 Paris Agreement to be finalised? Why did COP25 go so wrong, and what are the alternatives to COPs, anyway? Answers are below, rebel!
XR Scotland: COP26 Info Hub
Featuring a quick guide to the conference, practical info for rebels wanting to come down for the protests, and a five-point agreement that should be followed by those who do.
Climate Action Network: COP26 – Delivering The Paris Agreement
A report by developing countries outlining what is expected of developed countries to ensure real progress in Glasgow. Within these pages are traces of the historic arrogance and broken promises of the rich nations that have made previous COPs so inert.
Youtube: Boiling Point | COP26 Webinars (6 x 1hr)
This series of six webinars created by the COP26 Coalition gives you a potted history of each conference, the big issues still to solve, what to expect from COP26, and the inside story on what the negotiation process is actually like.
The Strait Times: 5 Reasons COP25 Failed
Reasons include poor host facilitation, the presence of hundreds of oil lobbyists, Chinese stubbornness in the face of Western broken promises, a global rise in nationalism, and Donald Trump. One of those can be struck off the list for COP26. What about the rest?
Intelligencer: UN Climate Talks Collapsed In Madrid – What’s The Way Forward?
Fresh from the failure of COP25, journalist David Wallace-Wells asks whether we can ever expect world governments (and oil lobbyists) to broker a deal on the climate crisis, and what the alternative mechanisms might be.
Book of the Month
Climate Action, by Georgina Stevens & Illustrated by Katie Rewse
This beautiful book has been crafted with a clear goal: explain the climate crisis in a way that engages young children, allows them to understand its causes and effects, and empowers them to take preventative action.
Each page is lavished with lovely illustrations, clear explanations of complex subjects, and illuminating facts. It is not just younger readers who will enjoy poring over these pages!
Peppered throughout the book are mini-bios of changemakers: young climate activists from around the world who have done amazing work to heal our planet.
Importantly, care has been taken to always give young readers ways that they can actively address the many problems that a book such as this one raises. And though hope courses through it, Stevens doesn’t flinch from portraying just how devastating some of the effects of this crisis will be, particularly on biodiversity.
That said, while the author does an excellent job of delving into all sorts of controversial solutions – from dietary changes to reducing consumerism – the book restricts its solutions to the individual level. Systemic changes are not addressed. Given the age of the audience such an approach is understandable, but the lack of any mention of citizen assemblies – and why they might be preferable to our current politics – feels like a missed opportunity.
Still, there is a whole section about becoming an activist, making placards, and getting one’s school to declare a climate emergency. It may wear it lightly, but this is still a radical children’s book, and one every child would gladly spend time with.
Looking for more rebel reading material? Check out the Rebel Library run by XR Writers Rebel, and get a themed recommended reading list every month.
Humans of XR:
John, 64, Scotland
I was an architect for 45 years, and for the last 15 of those I was a full-time sustainability professional working in the built environment. Among other things, I was invited to speak at the United Nations Renewable Energy Congress, and helped develop the supposed “Sustainable Economic Recovery Plan for Europe” for 2010 to 2020.
I set aside that work a little over two years ago to care for my wife, who has a progressive neurological condition. I have now also turned my attention to environmental activism.
I joined XR shortly after turning down an invite from the Chinese government to speak at their Sustainable Coastal Cities Development Programme Congress. I decided I didn’t need to go halfway around the world to have my message ignored!
I’m a member of XR Glasgow, where we’re preparing for COP26. We’ve spoken about various steps that will be taken throughout the programme, with a focus on our response to an unsatisfactory outcome, including a potential blockade – be it symbolic or actual.
My expectations for COP26 are very low. On the one hand, I don’t think the government or businesses are willing to act with the urgency we need. And on the other hand, I don’t think any of us fully understands just how far along we are on the trajectory toward collapse.
We need to square up to what is at stake here – for humanity, but also for us individually – and decide whether we’d be prepared to face that.
If you know (or are) a rebel somewhere in the world with a story to tell, get in touch at email@example.com
12 AUG | Stockholm, Sweden To celebrate Swedish oil company Lundin Energy being awarded a ‘CarbonZero certification’ for selling 600,000 barrels of oil in a ‘carbon-neutral’ way, rebel board members turned a fountain green and had a good wash.
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.
We are in a crucial phase of human history, and our movement needs money to make our message heard. Anything you can give is appreciated.