Claudia Fisher, a representative from the Brighton branch of Extinction Rebellion, discussed the rapid development of the movement and how people can help in this time of ‘climate emergency’.
The mainstream media is awash with stories telling us to eat less meat and choose green energy suppliers to save our planet. Although these attributes are environmentally beneficial, Extinction Rebellion firmly believes the root of our ‘climate emergency’ is a much bigger picture.
What is a ‘climate emergency’?
Scientists believe destabilisation of our global climate has progressed much more quickly than initially thought. This is fundamentally due to excessive human consumption of fossil fuels.
This issue requires a worldwide response to keep global warming to no more than 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels.
A rise in levels could mean catastrophic changes for our world as we know it.
For example, 46% of Earth’s species are predicted to go extinct by 2050 as a result of climate change if we do not reach carbon emission targets.
The environmental social movement operates internationally to catalyse radical changes to reduce climate change and prevent species extinction. In just a couple of weeks, Brighton’s branch of Extinction Rebellion, sometimes referred to as XR, has grown to two hundred active members.
Claudia Fisher, who helps to run the Brighton brand of the activist group, believes a heavily industrialised and consumerist society has pushed our environment to its limits: “It is our resulting reliance on fossil fuels that has led to climate breakdown, so we need to find ways to become carbon neutral urgently in order to minimise the impact of our behaviour on the planet, its climate and its eco-systems.”
What are Extinction Rebellion doing?
The aims of Extinction Rebellion as stated on their website include: petitioning the government and the media to tell the truth about the climate and wider ecological emergency; governmental policies imposing legally binding policy to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025; the creation of a national Citizens’ Assembly to oversee changes.
In the movement’s six weeks of activity in reaction to slow-moving progression of environmental policy, they have already arranged a huge protest in central London, blocking the five main bridges. One member from the Brighton branch was amongst the almost one hundred people arrested.
Locally, the Brighton division converged on Hove Town Hall to lobby local councillors to vote in favour of the petition to declare a climate emergency in Brighton and Hove. The motion was passed, but the petition still needs signatures to guarantee funding.
Despite the passing of the motion, Claudia believes Brighton and Hove City Council are ill-equipped to achieve this climate goal due to austerity measures from the central government. While continuing to protest parliament on a national level, the Brighton branch will also work on a local level to keep climate at the forefront of local political decisions.
“The problem is that our government and media, like their counterparts all over the globe, aren’t even telling people the truth about climate breakdown,” Claudia said. “Most people aren’t even aware of our imminent existential danger.”
Today, the movement has driven to deliver their mounting mass complaint campaign against the BBC, which they believe to be lacking proportionate coverage of climate change. The BBC has been approached for comment.
Although some have criticised their demands as unrealistic, Extinction Rebellion has received backing from over 100 academics validating their cause. Their demands claim to defy the political spectrum over issues concerning humankind.
How can people get involved?
Operating on a non-violent basis, the movement has varied their demonstrations from lobbying to performances around the UK: “People won’t hear our message if we just say it the same way, over and over again. Instead, we’re using creativity to capture the public’s imagination.”
“We want people to understand that climate breakdown shouldn’t be a small story near the end of the news every now and again – but the headline each and every day.” Claudia urged singers, musicians, artists, dancers and writers to get involved to use creative outlets to engage a wider audience.
But this is only the beginning. Claudia explained the movement is only just getting organised, but already have lots planned for 2019: “There is much, much more to come. “
The movement want to mobilise as many people as they can to help change governmental attitudes towards climate change as soon as possible. Claudia said: “We want a healthier and fairer world. Most of all, we want it to be fit for the generations to come.”
Featured image: Danny Fitzpatrick