Dozens of civil society groups to stand with Extinction Rebellion for days of protest at Houses of Parliament
NHS workers, trade unionists, anti-racism campaigners and climate activists will stand together in their thousands next month to protest the UK government’s apathetic and failed response to tackle interlocking crises, The Independent can reveal today.
Extinction Rebellion (XR) has called on 100,000 people to join days of demonstration dubbed “The Big One” at the Houses of Parliament in London from 21 to 24 April.
On Monday, the event received a major boost after dozens of groups, representing a diverse cross-section of society and interests, confirmed their participation.
Among those who will join are health groups, NHS Workers Say No and Greener Practice; the Public and Commercial Services Union, one of the UK’s largest unions; justice groups Global Justice Now and Don’t Pay UK; local chapters of Black Lives Matter, and the environmental charities Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth,and Earth Day.
“We have experienced a pandemic and a heatwave that has taken us to the limit of our endurance. These two issues are intertwined. The climate crisis is unfolding in front of us and we are deeply concerned about our patients. For that reason Extinction Rebellion has our unfailing support,” NHS Say No co-founder Holly Blackler said, in a statement.
The alliance was announced as the final in a series of damning climate reports is set to be published on Monday.
The report from the world’s most authoritative science body, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, will state that its now or never to cut fossil-fuel emissions and avert the planet’s collision course with climate disaster.
Due to the urgency and scale of change demanded, Extinction Rebellion’s UK arm announced in January that it would prioritize a large-tent, united approach, bringing together as many people as possible to try to will those in power to take meaningful action.
XR said it would focus on “attendance over arrest and relationships over roadblocks” to call for the UK government to adequately address a multitude of interwoven crises - climate change, the cost of living, attacks on democratic norms, and the shredding of essential public services.
We’re made to believe that our struggles are independent of one another and that each needs tackling before the other. But they aren’t. Those who profit from destroying our world want us to believe that.
Etienne Stott, XR activist and Olympic gold medallist
“We’re made to believe that our struggles are independent of one another and that each needs tackling before the other. But they aren’t. Those who profit from destroying our world want us to believe that,” said Etienne Stott, XR activist and Olympic gold medallist, in a statement.
“And they win time and time again by dividing the rest of us, pushing us to fight each other. But what Power is most afraid of is people setting aside their differences to stand together. We can overcome our fear and mistrust of each other and rediscover our power. This is survival solidarity – for us all.”
The “Big One” will last for four days in the heart of Westminster, and take place over the annual Earth Day on 22nd April.
Along with speakers, performers, and interactive workshops, there will be “People’s Pickets” at seven key UK government departments, addressing issues of environment, education, health, housing, and work.
Alongside the larger organisations, XR’s local network across the UK has been working with community groups and local unions to get them involved, including Norwich Trade Union Council and Unite Grassroot Climate Justice Caucus.
“We have been counting down the days until we all go to London together to draw attention to the fact that the government is failing in its duty in not tackling the climate and environmental crises,” said the Exeter Community Alliance, which represents 30 local community groups.
“Opening coal mines and licensing new oil fields having declared a climate emergency is incoherent. They have succumbed to pressure to give NHS workers a much deserved pay rise, they now need to realise that there is a need for similar support for serious efforts to ensure our children and future generations can enjoy a planet not ruined by a lack of political willpower."