Extinction Rebellion: ‘Our movement must be global or it will fail’

An Extinction Rebellion rally in Sydney on May 24. Photo: Peter Boyle

Green Left Weekly’s Rachel Evans and Jonathan Lockhart spoke to Extinction Rebellion Sydney spokesperson Caz Chattin to find out more about this growing international movement.

When did Extinction Rebellion come about and why?

Extinction Rebellion was established in mid-2018 after all previous attempts to enact systemic change failed. It is based on studies on effective protest movements and focuses on non-violent direct action or civil disobedience to put pressure on the media and government.

What is Extinction Rebellion's understanding about the cause, nature and extent of the environmental crisis?

The cause is human activity — there is no arguing with the science.

The Earth is already too hot and to those who ask why we still have extreme rain, that’s because ocean water is evaporating with the temperature change.

This is absolutely a threat to our very existence and we don’t have ten, twelve years: we are overdue for action.

We might even be too late.

What are Extinction Rebellion's main demands? How do they differ from those of the School Strike 4 Climate (SS4C) and Stop Adani campaigns?

Our demands are: 1) The government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change; 2) Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025; and 3) Government must create and be led by the decisions of a citizens’ assembly on climate and ecological justice.

They differ in that they are more ambitious. For example, SS4C wants a transition to renewables by 2030; we demand it be done by 2025.

Our movement is international and it is absolutely crucial that this movement is global. It will fail if it is not successful in every country.

We demand a citizen’s assembly to oversee transitions so that governments better represent the people they are supposed to work for.

We also demand climate justice, which incorporates Indigenous land rights and addresses things like climate refugees and justice for the parts of the world hit first and worst by the ecological crisis.

Stop Adani are wonderful and are great friends of ours, and there’s a lot of overlap. We hope once Adani is stopped they will join the rebellion for global action.

Extinction Rebellion has mobilised thousands in London and now in Melbourne and Sydney. What are your proposals for further action to Stop Adani, carbon emissions and bring about a just transition to renewable energy?

We need to grow our numbers and we need just transitions for all workers into renewable jobs, including farmers.

What is your understanding about how we would transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy while guaranteeing employment for workers formerly in the mining sector?

These workers would ideally be retrained at no cost to them in jobs in renewables, with the help of their unions.

How do think we can successfully challenge the political power of the mining moguls and their political backers in Labor and the Coalition? 

With these kinds of corporations and leaders, the only language they speak is money. We must attack their bottom line.

Disrupting business-as-usual for all of these big shots is the only way to even get them to pay attention.

That’s why Extinction Rebellion is involved in blockades and halting traffic.

How can people get involved in Extinction Rebellion?

In Australia, the best way is to go to our website ausrebellion.earth to sign up to our mailing list and find out about public events in your area.

There are all sorts of ways you can be a part of Extinction Rebellion, it’s not all roadblocks and arrests — we love social media likes and shares just as much.

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