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Winter has retreated from the Northern hemisphere, and seeds of rebellion have been sprouting in some of its largest and most iconic cities.
Last month saw three sustained campaigns of direct action launch across London, New York, and Paris in quick succession. Streets were occupied, banks blockaded, oil company offices infiltrated, and greenwashing newspapers went undelivered.
Together these rebellions harnessed the loving rage of thousands of climate activists, and you can read reports about all three in Action Highlights.
Hundreds of rebels march through London on the first day of The April Rebellion.
While we’ve laid out yet another feast of rebellious action for you this month, there’s also the bitter aftertaste of political intransigence.
The Inevitable Rebellion in Paris emerged after national elections that ignored the climate crisis and reinstalled a President whose current policies come nowhere near delivering on his government’s own emission targets.
Meanwhile the American President announced the return of leases for domestic fossil fuel drilling as rebels marched through New York. And just days after the rebellion in London, the UK government cemented its plan to accelerate domestic oil and gas production, then passed repressive anti-protest laws that could see future rebellions marred by unlimited fines and jail time.
The NYPD showed some surprising leniency during the New York Uprising. Find out how and why, in Action Highlights.
With carbon dioxide levels hitting record highs and deadly weather extremes now a permanent fixture of the news cycle, the response of our leaders is sad, sickening, and suicidal. It’s got so bad that even the cops of the New York Police Department seem to have had enough.
Rebellion is presently raging across Scandinavia (as we’ll report next issue), and plans for multinational rebellions in the summer are well underway (see Upcoming Actions). Now is the time to get more involved in your local XR group and see what you can do to help end this madness.
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Spring Uprising Stings US Media
APRIL 15 – 23 | New York, USA
Rebels rally outside NBC. The TV network closed up and erected barricades before they got there.
Rebels in New York have taken their climate activism to the next level, launching a sustained campaign of both arrestable and family-friendly actions across the city.
The Spring Uprising targeted American media companies for their climate silence, and American banks for their fossil fuel investments. XR NYC was joined by rebels and other activists from across the region, including groups from Boston, Philadelphia, and even Minnesota.
The most attention-grabbing action was the successful blockade of a press printing plant, which meant copies of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal didn’t make it onto the shelves that day. The titles were targeted for their greenwashing advertising. It took police over six hours to cut rebels free from the plant’s driveway and arrest them.
A New York Times employee drove into the printing plant blockade, knocking back a rebel on a tripod. Rebels jumped onto the car, and the driver was detained by police.
In an unprecedented display of leniency, the NYPD then let rebels blockading a separate staff entrance go free, and take all their gear home with them, including barrels, sleeping dragons, tripods, and a boat!
An NYC rebel believes this strange sympathy for our cause stems from the freakish rainstorms in the city back in September. Police scrambled to save New Yorkers from the resultant flash floods, but couldn’t stop 13 people from drowning in basement apartments.
“After those floods, many in the police realised XR was highlighting a crisis that they would be the clean-up crew for. Since then, small signals of support from the police just keep coming.”
A “We Will Not Be Bystanders” rally took place on the 2nd day of the uprising. 13 rebels were arrested for blocking the road.
The Spring Uprising launched with hundreds marching through Manhattan to the headquarters of NBC News and ABC News. The TV networks were targeted for their superficial coverage of the climate emergency.
On later days, rebels blocked roads in the city’s financial district, demanding that their tax dollars stop being used to fund war and environmental destruction. They also occupied the reception of Citigroup’s corporate HQ. The bank is globally the second largest funder of fossil fuel companies, and the largest funder of US coal.
Across the eight days of action, a total of 78 rebels were arrested, and XR NYC has been so inundated with new recruits that they’re holding special onboarding events both online and off to process them all.
With the US President announcing that leases for domestic fossil fuel drilling are back on sale, those fresh-faced rebels are needed more than ever.
The Rebellion? Why, it was Inevitable.
16 – 18 APRIL | Paris, France
Many hundreds of rebels set up camp under the Saint Denis gate in Paris.
“When voting is not enough, rebellion is inevitable”. The motto of this three-day action in Paris rings true. The rebellion for a different, better, kinder world is, indeed, inevitable.
In the recent national elections, French rebels found themselves in a no-win situation. Their only choice was between a right-wing extremist and a neoliberal president who had done nothing to respond to the climate crisis during his past five years in office.
With the public debate consumed by right-wing talking points, less than 5% of election airtime was dedicated to discussing the environment. To oppose this blanket denialism by France’s political and media elite, 1500 rebels took to the streets of the capital and occupied the square surrounding the Saint Denis gate.
The XR symbol was unfurled from atop the gate in front of a cheering crowd.
There they created a democratic space where people could meet, exchange ideas, and listen to speeches. Activists, experts, and everyday citizens gathered to consider questions such as how to revive democracy, and how to tackle climate and energy injustices. Concerts and jam sessions completed the rich programme.
Extensive coverage of the action by French and international media brought the environmental crisis back into the spotlight. Even the President was forced to address the issue, though his promises of an eco-friendly second term rang hollow after so many broken promises. XR France will judge him by his actions.
After the Inevitable Rebellion inevitably came to a close, several participants decided to remain on the site in their own right. “We wanted to free up a democratic space, and so we did”, writes XR France. “We hope that beautiful ideas and exciting new projects emerge from this citizen movement.”
Rebels sat atop hay bales and tripods as they occupied the busy central square.
Rebellion Blooms as Repression Looms
9 – 16 APRIL | London, UK
Rebels march through central London’s shopping district to open The Spring Rebellion.
Rebellion has again broken out in the city where it all started. After an amazing prelude that saw rebels join forces with Just Stop Oil to blockade oil terminals, The April Rebellion formally launched with a mass demonstration through central London.
Thousands of rebels marched through the city over the week of actions, using mass sit-downs to block traffic and calling for an immediate end to all new fossil fuel projects.
As the rebel crowds ground the capital to a halt and samba drums filled the air, a series of direct actions were launched from the protest fringes.
This ‘Scientist for XR’ was later hospitalised after going on hunger-strike in her cell.
More than 60 rebels blockaded Lloyd’s of London, shutting down the insurance giant for a day. Lloyd’s insures some of the world’s worst fossil fuel projects, including The Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion in Western Canada.
Shell’s newly-located HQ in London was also targeted, with nine rebels infiltrating the building, most glueing themselves to reception, and one reaching the eighth floor. Outside, protesters held up placards bearing the names of the Shell employees within, inviting them to be a part of XRUK’s whistleblower project.
‘Scientists for XR’ glued themselves and scientific journals to the UK Energy ministry to highlight how the government is ignoring climate science. One ecologist went on hunger and thirst strike after she was arrested but refused bail.
The pink octopus returned for some outreach at the London Science Museum.
While this new design of rebellion – mobile, adaptable, infrastructure-free – succeeded in causing major disruption and evading a police shutdown, it’s clear that the social impact of these rebellions is starting to diminish in the UK.
Since The April Rebellion, the government has called for the acceleration of domestic oil and gas production in the North Sea, and overseen the introduction of repressive new laws that could mean huge fines and jail time for rebels attending future protests.
But XRUK has refused to be intimidated or disheartened. They have launched outreach campaigns to both train up and expand their movement, and are exploring new strategies that include working more concretely with resistance groups in the Global South.
Despite the authoritarian moves by their government, UK rebels will keep evolving their tactics and forging new partnerships for the even bigger rebellion planned in September.
4 MAY | Colombo, Sri Lanka Several rebels were arrested while peacefully protesting outside parliament. After many hours, activist lawyers managed to get them out on bail. The country has been rocked by huge anti-government protests after an economic crash caused food and fuel prices to soar. Rebels had braved violent police crackdowns to demand a transition to renewable energy. The country receives ample sunlight throughout the year but remains wedded to fossil fuels. Expect more info next issue.
27 APRIL | Germany Activists from climate group Last Generation turned off crude oil pipelines at several locations in Germany. They entered emergency shut-off stations and turned valves with their own hands, later decorating them with sunflowers.
25 – 29 APRIL | Stockholm, Sweden Rebels launched a ‘Fossil Rebellion’ across the Swedish capital for five days (their longest ever campaign!) to push their government to stop all fossil fuel subsidies. Full report in the next issue.
25 APRIL | Johannesburg, South Africa Rebels have repeatedly protested outside Standard Bank’s HQ, demanding that the bank stop investing in the terrifying East African Crude Oil Pipeline. Photo: Julia Evans
22 APRIL | Bogotá, Colombia Despite being one of the most dangerous countries to protest in, rebels led a coalition of activists through the capital to rally against fracking. Pilot fracking projects are already underway in the country.
22 APRIL | Buenos Aires, Argentina The Violet Brigade, who symbolise the possibility of transitioning to another system, accompany the Earth Day march through the capital.
12 – 21 APRIL | Hanko, Finland Rebels and Greenpeace activists blocked a train bringing Russian coal into the country. After an amazing 10 day stretch, 5 rebels were finally taken into custody. They called on their government to stop fueling war and ban the import of Russian fossil fuels.
There was so much action this month that we can’t fit it into one newsletter. Head to Newsletter XTRA to find out about actions in Australia, Denmark, Israel, Rwanda, Ukraine and more. Newsletter XTRA: A feast for the eyes and extra fuel for the soul!
Brussels Rebellion: Save The Date!
19 JUNE | 10:00 | Outside EU Parliament
We are rebelling in Europe to save our common home. The EU has to criminalise ecocide and save our forests, oceans and soils.
Rebels from all over Europe are coming together. Indigenous leaders from Brazil will join us to stand up together against the destruction of our ecosystems.
In 2019 the European Parliament declared the climate emergency, but since then the EU has continued with deadly politics.
We need fair policies that are decided by the people, not by corporations and their well-paid lobbyists.
We rebel for the future we want. We have no more time to waste. Let’s ACT NOW. Together we are powerful. Together we’re unstoppable.
We need you! Join us in Brussels!
Debt For Climate!
26 – 28 JUNE | Global
We will bring together workers unions and social movements of the Global South to show how social justice and climate justice can be delivered hand in hand.
We are a global team planning to pressure wealthy countries into paying their Debt For Climate. How do they do this? By renegotiating the financial debts that burden Global South countries, so the money can be spent on a just transition.
With the stroke of a pen, we can keep trillions of dollars worth of fossil fuels in the ground and free impoverished nations from debt. We must take to the streets all over the world and build the necessary pressure to bring it about.
We are calling for the first global mobilisation to happen during the G7 summit in June. The world’s 7 most powerful economies control the IMF and the World Bank, and have the power to change the policies of international lending bodies.
XR Global Blog: New Articles Published!
The XR Global Blog explores key issues around the Climate and Ecological Emergency, hosting articles by writers living all over the world. Here are our latest pieces…
Protecting Nature: Why the Words We Use Matter: Language we use to talk about nature shapes our thoughts and attitudes towards it. The words we use matter – yet mainstream ‘nature speak’ is problematic, and damaging.
Solarpunk Showcase: Where Giants will Stand: Part of XR Wordsmith’s Solarpunk Showcase. ‘Solarpunk’ offers a fictional vision of what the future could be, not what it will be. It’s down to all of us to make that future real.
The ‘Desert’ was Already Blooming: Palestine, Colonialism, & Global Climate Justice: The destructive links between colonialism and climate breakdown experienced by Palestinians and other marginalised communities are a product of climate injustice. Recognition and action taken through a ‘justice lens’ is the only viable response.
XR Global Blog: Writers, Editors, Translators Wanted!
The XR Global Blog and Website team needs you, yes YOU!
If you want to join a global team of writers and editors, or help translate articles about the most pressing climate issues from around the globe, then get in touch at email@example.com
We particularly welcome potential team members from BIPOC, Global South and neurodiverse communities.
Support is needed translating articles from English into Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, Czech, Dutch, Greek, Polish, Russian, Zhosa, and Mandarin. But translators in the other languages of our wonderful global community are also welcome!
XR Global Support: Join Us!
XR Global Support helps to launch and grow rebel groups around the world, offering training, resources, tech support, communications, and more.
But we also need rebels to join our global team to help us do this.
If you have access to a computer, a bit of free time, and a strong commitment to climate activism, then we want to hear from you!
Roles are available to suit a range of skills and availability, including in Web Design, Social Media, Fundraising and Press.
If you’re interested, the first step is to fill out this volunteer registration form.
Questions? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
XR Art: Open Call for Artists & Creatives
New Submission Deadline: 10 SEPTEMBER
In 2021 an international art project was born in Milan that aimed to communicate the seriousness of the eco-climatic crisis in an innovative, incisive and irreverent way.
The next edition of this project is to create a global event with contemporary exhibitions in different cities. The format will be open source: works can be selected, downloaded and printed by anyone who wants to organise an exhibition.
Artists can use techniques of their choice to create works that communicate the urgent need for mass awareness, and the severity of the crisis we are going through.
Solarpunk Storytelling is Solar Powered
XR Wordsmiths’ Solarpunk Storytelling Showcase website is up and running! But we’d like to remind readers that it sits on a solar powered server.
So if you ever visit the site and it doesn’t seem to be working, check back a bit later – the clouds should have lifted by then!
Book of the Month
Blowout, by Rachel Maddow
Rachel Maddow’s 2019 book, Blowout, is not about climate change. That is, it’s not about climate science, the possibilities for renewable energy, or the dire environmental consequences of business-as-usual.
No, it’s about politics and money—it’s about the role the oil and gas industry has played on the world stage for decades now.
But we know climate change is no longer a problem of science or engineering or even public willingness—it’s a problem of politics and of money. And that makes Blowout as close to “required reading” as we are likely to see.
Maddow’s style is intensely journalistic. She doesn’t make vague pronouncements. She doesn’t lob personal insults or take cheap shots. In clear, respectful, even sympathetic terms, she explains exactly who did what, where, and on what date.
And if that means outing a major national leader for using organised crime to make trouble-makers “go away”, so be it. She explains the power and reach of the oil and gas industry and its startlingly corrupt political allies, and how they run—and ruin—so much of the world.
If we’re going to pull a rabbit out of a hat, we’ve got to fully understand hats.
Migrant Child Story:
Abdo, a 9-year-old Syrian boy in a Greek refugee camp, was given a camera and asked to photograph what was important to him and talk about his choice…
I love trees so much, but I couldn’t get the full picture of this one. I like this tree the most though. It’s the most beautiful, it looks like a painting. It’s pointy at the top, a perfect tree. And I also asked the tree permission to take her picture and she said yes.
It reminds me of the greenery in Ladkia – there was a tree there that looks like this one and I loved it, too. So when I saw this, I loved it too. It looks like one of those ancient trees, they’ve been through everything and have seen it all.
They’ve seen refugees from all over the world, they witness our lives. Allah loves trees, and created them to be good for us. Nature is good to us and cares for us, I feel safe when I am around it. And trees never die until somebody harms them, that’s why God punishes those who cut trees down.
However long they live, the tree sees everything and never forgets. Every leaf on it protects you, so every time you pick a leaf, you’ll be punished. Each leaf was born for a purpose and has a past and a story. For every refugee it sees, a new leaf grows. It protects us from the sun.
The prophet Mohammed loved trees too, this tree is a source of strength in the camp.
Find more pictures and stories by migrant children at migrantchildstorytelling.org and in The Migrant Diaries by Lynne Jones. A description of how the storytelling project was conducted is available here.
25 APRIL | New York, USA Environmental lawyer Steven Donziger was freed after 993 days of house arrest and 45 days in prison, the result of being ruthlessly targeted by oil giant Chevron for helping Indigenous peoples in Ecuador win a $9.5 billion pollution judgement against them. Read more about this terrifying tale of Big Oil controlling the US justice system.
Thank you for reading, rebel. If you have any questions or feedback, we want to hear from you. Get in touch at email@example.com.