This past Monday on October 14th, the #climate change activist group known as #Extinction Rebellion staged #protests outside of #BlackRock, one of #London’s most prominent financial institutions. Extinction Rebellion targeted BlackRock specifically, demanding that they stop funding fossil fuel companies that build new mines and pipelines, ultimately contributing to the climate change crisis. Extinction Rebellion, also referred to as ‘XR’, is making similar demands of other worldwide financial institutions. The group has arranged climate change protests in other major cities such as New York, Berlin, Amsterdam, and Sydney.
Extinction Rebellion: Their Mission and Message
One of the primary goals of Extinction Rebellion is to incentivize governments around the world to declare a “climate and ecological emergency” and to urgently address the laws and statutes that are contributing to climate change. They are a self-declared “non-violent, civil disobedience activist movement” that is demanding zero carbon emission output worldwide by the year 2025. Their ultimate goal is to halt the mass extinction of species around the world and minimize the risk of societal collapse as a result of climate change.
Inside the BlackRock Protest
During the climate change demonstration at BlackRock on Monday, volunteers glued themselves to building doors and staged a fake dinner party that was intended to mock corporate owners.
It is estimated that more than 1,400 arrests have been made since the London climate change protests began this week and similar numbers are being seen in other countries where Extinction Rebellion protests have been held.
In response to the worldwide arrests, Carolina Rosa, climate change activist and spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion stated that “the city of London is a preeminent nexus of power in the global system that is killing our world.”
Extinction Rebellion as a whole released a statement declaring that the climate change emergency isn’t going to go away without some sort of resolution and that ultimately, the climate change problem is “bigger than all of us.”
Disturbing Cities as a Means of Fighting Climate Change
During Extinction Rebellion’s last climate change protest this past April in London, 1,130 people were arrested throughout the 11-day long protest. During this time, the city’s busiest roads and bus routes were disrupted, bringing much of the city to a standstill. The costs to the London police force as a result of the protest were estimated at around £7.5 million.
April’s protest saw activists gluing themselves to city trains, as well as entrances to the London Stock Exchange. Activists in New York City during this time blocked traffic, while German protesters chained themselves outside Angela Merkel’s Chancellery in Berlin.
Is Civil Unrest the Answer to Climate Change?
In light of the costs, arrests, and civil disturbances brought on by Extinction Rebellion, we have to ask ourselves, how are these actions helping solve climate change? Critics are stating that Extinction Rebellion is nothing more than a climate change group made up of ‘environmental fanatics’ and despite what good intentions they may have, their extreme actions are likely alienating potential supporters. Some have also criticized the group for attempting to overthrow capitalism in an attempt to stop fossil fuel production without any idea of what is to come and no plans for realistic fossil fuel replacement timelines.
In response to criticism of their climate change fighting tactics, Extinction Rebellion has stated that those angered by their protests “should find out more about the severity of ecological and climate crisis.”
While it is understandable that many are becoming emotionally invested in climate change activism and a desire to put an end to fossil fuel production, is civil unrest and disruption the route we should take to end climate change? Extinction Rebellion will have to come forth with scientifically proven methods of fossil fuel replacement plans if they are to be taken seriously in the climate change and science-driven communities.
Putting pressure on financial corporations and those directly involved in financing fossil fuel production is a start to combating climate change. Climate change is undoubtedly causing a disruption to our planet on a global scale. However, to effectively combat climate change, science-based plans and logical perseverance will need to be our focus – not gluing ourselves to public property.