Scores of Lewes activists are to participate in the ‘biggest ever’ Extinction Rebellion protest.
On Monday (October 7), hundreds of activists from the town and the surrounding areas will travel to London to take part in what is expected to be the biggest act of non-violent civil disobedience in history, as the activist group Extinction Rebellion stages a two-week protest at several sites in London designed to force action to address the climate and ecosystem crisis facing humanity.
Similar action is planned in cities worldwide as concern mounts about global inaction on climate change and ecological collapse.
The Lewes activists will be based at a site on or near Whitehall, the Express has been told, where they will be focusing on Extinction Rebellion’s ‘third demand’ for a binding Citizens’ Assembly on action to bring about the emissions reductions and ecosystem restoration necessary to address the crisis.
Local teacher Jemima Edell is intending to stay in the city for the whole two weeks. She said: “This is my chance to swell the ranks of people demanding that the government to listen to the science and act on it.
“Our energy, transport and business policies are still fatally destroying the environment, imminently threatening our existence – not just our way of life.
“I’m not keen to get arrested – I’m a teacher and it would massivley impact my career. But there’s little point in having a career on a dying planet.”
The Whitehall site will welcome activists from across the south east, with many planning to camp in roads despite anticipated cold weather.
Many activists from Lewes have indicated a willingness to be arrested.
“I fully realise that people who go on actions may get arrested, but I feel I have to be there for the sake of my grandchildren and great niece and nephews to try and make amends,” said Claire Duc, who ran the Lewes Arms for eight years.
She added: “The government and big business needs to tell the truth – there IS a cliate emergency and ecological disaster.
“From the top down and bottom up, we all need to work together to ensure that things get no worse than they need to.”
Others are heading to London to help in other ways, such as providing food, holding placards, or simply adding numbers to the crowd, but are not planning to be arrested.
“You don’t need to be part of Extinction Rebellion already to come along and make your voice heard,” said Ben Kenward, one of the Whitehall site coordinators, adding: “Everyone and every contribution is welcome.”
Among those going to London is Lewes resident Dirk Campbell, whose 26-year-old daughter, Anna, was tragically killed while fighting in Syria. Here is his story:
‘Why I’m going to London’
My name is Dirk Campbell and I’m going to London to join the Extinction Rebellion action starting on October 7.
Climate change is by far the most important threat facing anyone today.
People think that Brexit is the most important challenge since the last world war but it’s not.
Compared to climate change it’s just a sideshow, a mere distraction.
People’s lives will be desperately affected by climate change, not only in this country.
“e are already seeing more frequent floods, heatwaves, health impacts and reduced crop yields and it will only get worse as average global temperatures rise.
Summers are getting hotter year by year. Governments seem to be waiting for someone else to take the lead, so the people have to take the lead.
And that’s what we’re doing, not only here but all over the globe.
Our method is simple: non-violent civil disobedience.
We cause disruption because it’s the only way to gain attention and create pressure.
We are non-violent because violence produces only further violence in response, and that is not our aim.
Our aim is to cause a great turning away from the unbridled industrialism and profit greed that is heating up our world.
I am 68 years old. I have children and grandchildren. I want a future for them.
All of them are joining in the Extinction Rebellion actions, here and abroad, because they want a future.
Extinction Rebellion has three demands: tell the truth; reduce to net zero carbon emissions by 2025; create a citizens’ assembly on climate change.
Citizens’ assemblies already exist and help to decide government policy, but government is not obliged to comply with them. However, citizens’ assemblies are independent of political and financial pressures and can make decisions purely based on evidence.
Extinction Rebellion demands a citizens’ assembly on climate change and species extinction whose conclusions are legally binding on government.
The IPCC is a UN-backed organisation composed of scientists, experts and academics.
Last year the IPCC gave the world 12 years to limit average global temperature increase to 1.5º otherwise feedback loops will cause global warming to run out of control.
There is now no serious opposition to this scenario as the effects of global warming are already demonstrable.
If everyone joined the rebellion the government would be forced to act. No previous efforts have worked.
The government’s first duty is to protect its citizens. When it fails in that duty the citizens have the right to rebel.
About Extinction Rebellion
Extinction Rebellion came to public prominence in 2018, after a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on climate change found that immediate, deep cuts in carbon emissions and radical infrastructure changes are needed for even a 50 to 66 per cent chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change.
The group blocked bridges in London in late 2018, before a major protest action that lasted more than a week in April pushed climate change up the political agenda and persuaded parliament to declare a climate emergency.
However, there has been little Government action since then, and global carbon emissions and rates of ecosystem destruction have continued to rise unabated. Subsequent reports by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services 2 and a key UN Science Advisory Group 3 have confirmed that humanity is on track for an unprecedented global climate and ecological disaster.