In November 2018, various acts of civil disobedience took place in London. The movement is unusual in that a large number of activists have pledged to be arrested and are prepared to go to prison, similar to the mass arrest tactics of the Committee of 100 in 1961.
Citing inspiration from grassroots movements such as Occupy, Gandhi’s independence movement, the Suffragettes, Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, Extinction Rebellion intends to rally support worldwide around a common sense of urgency to tackle climate breakdown.
Quotes from members
- This is for my nieces and nephews. So that we can work towards a greater planet for them to live on. A healthy planet, a sustainable future for my little 3-year-old niece. This is for you, Adeline
- Reply from one rebel when he was asked "Do you have anything to say?" whilst being arrested. Cited in: Extinction Rebellion, @ExtinctionR Twitter from "Rebellion Day", 17 November 2018.
- It seems like everyone is in an odd sense of denial about climate change. I was in a quandary about what I could do. I felt taking part was a way of putting my name down and doing something for the environment. It was an incredibly peaceful demonstration and I think we put down some kind of marker. The message is really very slow to get through to people, but it will come to us all, we will all have to deal with the impact of this climate emergency. I hope this kind of action has caught the public imagination. It is the new future.
- Gavin Turk, one of the Young British Artists. Cited in: Laville, Sandra (18 November 2018). "Artist Gavin Turk arrested in London climate change protest". the Guardian. Retrieved on 21 November 2018.
- People are sick of being told it’s enough to sign a petition when we’re faced with extinction.
- Ebury-Jones, Tom; Sommerlad, Joe (21 November 2018). "Climate change protesters are 'swarming' major London roads to stop rush hour traffic". The Independent.
- I think this is the first time, certainly since the direct action protests of the 1990s that there has been a mass campaign of non-violent direct action taking place all over the UK. So it’s a very exciting moment
- A new member of the XR Edinburgh group, who also said the movement was "growing like crazy". Cited in: Spowart, Nan (25 November 2018). "Climate change rebel group rally in Edinburgh for Scottish launch" (in English). The National. Retrieved on 26 November 2018.
- I am doing this because I am hugely concerned about the future for my children and grandchildren. The government is not doing enough to tackle the issue.
- Spokeswoman for a Welsh XR group after protests in Cardiff. Cited in: Hayward, Will (22 July 2019). "Extinction Rebellion is bringing its climate protest to Swansea after blocking roads in Cardiff" (in English). Wales Online. Retrieved on 23 July 2019.
Quotes from police officers
- You're standing up for something that needed to be stood up for. We all needed someone to do that. You are doing it. I totally support you.
- It has been the nicest week of my working life.
- Cites in Griffiths, Jay (2019). "Courting arrests". This Is Not a Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook. London: Penguin Books. pp. 95-98. ISBN 9780141991443.
Quotes about the movement
- This is a movement devoted to disruptive, nonviolent disobedience in protest against ecological collapse.
- Today we use 100 million barrels of oil every day. There are no politics to change that. There are no rules to keep that oil in the ground. So we can't save the world by playing by the rules. Because the rules have to be changed. Everything needs to change. And it has to start today. So everyone out there: it is now time for civil disobedience. It is time to rebel.
- It was a moment of the kind that changes lives. At a press conference held by climate activists Extinction Rebellion last week, two of us journalists pressed the organisers on whether their aims were realistic. They have called, for example, for UK carbon emissions to be reduced to net zero by 2025. Wouldn’t it be better, we asked, to pursue some intermediate aims? [...] Softer aims might be politically realistic, but they are physically unrealistic. Only shifts commensurate with the scale of our existential crises have any prospect of averting them. Hopeless realism, tinkering at the edges of the problem, got us into this mess. It will not get us out. [...] Those to whom we look for solutions trundle on as if nothing has changed. As if the accumulating evidence has no purchase on their minds. Decades of institutional failure ensures that only “unrealistic” proposals – the repurposing of economic life, with immediate effect – now have a realistic chance of stopping the planetary death spiral. And only those who stand outside the failed institutions can lead this effort. Two tasks need to be performed simultaneously: throwing ourselves at the possibility of averting collapse, as Extinction Rebellion is doing, slight though this possibility may appear; and preparing ourselves for the likely failure of these efforts, terrifying as this prospect is. Both tasks require a complete revision of our relationship with the living planet.
- In fewer than 12 months, Extinction Rebellion has become the fastest-growing environmental organisation in the world.
- Nosheen Iqbal, "How Extinction Rebellion put the world on red alert", The Observer, 6 October 2019.
- [...] Extinction Rebellion, the climate activist group that in its short existence has arguably become the most prominent and radical climate movement worldwide. The approach those activists hit upon – using nonviolent mass disruption to increase awareness of climate change and force action on the issue – has catapulted the group to worldwide recognition and leadership on the issue.
- Extinction Rebellion are carrying a message we all need to hear. They won’t be silenced by a police crackdown, nor should they be in a free democratic society.
- Caroline Lucas, cited in "Extinction Rebellion begins legal challenge against protest ban", The Guardian, 24 October 2019.