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C.3.c.iv. Mass Civil Disobedience against Climate Change

Gayle, Damien ; Carrington, Damian, Street Illegal: XR Ponder Diminishing Returns from Guerrilla Protest, Guardian Weekly, 19/09/2021,

The article describes the change in police tactics from earlier protests, including immediate intervention to stop obstruction of roads and the use of batons. It then discusses briefly the changes in XR's own approach: the emphasis shifting from 'sounding the alarm' to demanding why there is not 'an emergency response'.

See also: 'XR's Latest Rebellion', Peace News, October-November 2021, p.7.

Outlines briefly plans for a fortnight of action directed at stopping fossil fuel investment and focused mainly on the City of London.  On the same page there is a brief report on XR Scotland's appeal to all XR activists to respect XR Scotland's 'COP 26 Rebel Agreement' to show respect for the most vulnerable local communities and to demand a just transition for workers and local communities.

Hallam, Roger, Common Sense for the 21st Century: Only nonviolent rebellion can now stop climate breakdown and social collapse, Roger Hallam, 2019, pp. 80

Hallam is a co-founder of Extinction Rebellion (XR) and claims its April 2019 protest launch in London was based largely on the strategic ideas he had already sketched out. The book examines the case for fearing imminent planetary disaster, outlines 'the civil resistance model' underlying X R strategy. and criticizes 'climate justice' movements' for their approach.

His views do not represent all those taking part in the XR movement or who support in principle taking nonviolent direct action to combat climate change.

For a critical review of both the use of science and the basis of the strategy see: Gabriel Carlyle, Peace News, 2636-2637 (Dec. 2019-Jan. 2020), p. 21

'Has Extinction Rebellion Got the Right Tactics?' - debate in New Internationalist, Jan-Feb. 2020, pp. 46-47

Two supporters of climate activism disagree about the likely efficacy of XR's approach and its ability to maintain momentum over time.

Iqbal, Nosheen, Extinction Rebellion, a year of climate red alert, Guardian Weekly, 11/10/2019, pp. 15-17

Overview after half a year of XR's impact, noting its very rapid growth inside the UK and mobilization of a wide cross-section of people, its global spread (485 affiliates around the world). Iqbal also notes the impact on the engineering and construction industries, universities, local councils, architecture and the arts all focusing on the urgency of reducing emissions. But he cites criticism from the Wretched of the Earth collective for climate justice, who urged XR not to ignore the voices of indigenous, black, brown and diaspora groups.

See also: 'Climate Change Protesters Take Over Museum and Threaten Disruption', The i, 23 April 2019, p.11. Report on 'die in' by 100 activists under the blue whale skeleton in London's Natural History Museum, a week after XR blockades in London began;

See also: 'Climate Protesters to Pitch Tent City in Four-day "Northern Rebellion", The Guardian, 29 Aug. 2019, p.20. 

Report that at least 750 people had pledged to occupy Deansgate in Manchester, an entertainment area with high air pollution levels;

See also 'Mothers in Google Climate Action as Protesters Defy Ban', The Guardian, 17 Oct. 2019, p.13. Reports blockade of Google's London HQ in defiance of police ban on protests in London to oppose Google's funding of deniers of climate crisis. Young people and nursing mothers took part.  Lawyers for XR were applying for judicial review of the police banning order at the high court.

Lights, Zion, Hot Earth Rebels, Nov-Dec 2019, New Left Review, issue 120, 2019

Interview with leading activist Zion Lights from Extinction Rebellion about their shutdown of central London, covering reasons for adopting civil disobedience and 'flat management' structures.

Randle, Michael, Thousands of Arrests: What can Extinction Rebellion learn from the experience of the Committee of 100?, Feb-Mar 2020, Peace News, issue 2638-2639, 2020

Randle was a full time organizer for the Committee of 100, which was created in 1960 to promote mass nonviolent direct action, such as sit-downs and occupations, as a strategy to promote unilateral nuclear disarmament by Britain. In this article he compares the Committee's experience with the tactics and aims of Extinction Rebellion, noting the greater acceptability of nonviolent direct action today and the differences between the two threats (nuclear war and major climate change). He also notes that the Committee of 100 ceased to exist after eight years, whilst the more conventional CND has lasted over 60 years. 

See also articles by Gabriel Carlyle 'Building the Climate Movement We Need', and Mya-Rose Craig, 'The Point of Striking is to Take Control over Our Futures' in Peace News, 2034-2035, Oct.-Nov. 2019 for further debate about strategy and focus. Carlyle makes a comparison with the US Civil Rights Movement and its localised, focused campaigns combining to create a national movement. Craig stresses the need to prioritize the Global South and when setting out alternatives, to advocate only actions that do not harm communities in poorer countries.

Taylor, Matthew, Extinction Rebellion, Guardian Weekly, 14/08/2020, pp. 35-39

Taylor provides a detailed account and analysis of the origins of Extinction Rebellion (XR), its structure and decision-making processes, its major demonstrations in 2019, and its evolution. He includes the internal debate about whether to try to shut down Heathrow, the ideological divides in the movement, and the decision by one of XR’s founders, Roger Hallam, to leave XR and found a new climate campaigning group. The article concludes by discussing the implications of Covid-19 and noting the plans to disrupt parliament peacefully in September 2020.