X-treme in the Streets: How Far is Too Far?


Extinction Rebellion (or XR for short), has come under the spotlight once again following a recent bout of intense protests across London.

Committed to their tactics of civil disobedience, the climate activist group have resisted police force and prevailed wide scale demonstrations to disrupt the capital.

This is to raise awareness of the increasingly urgent climate emergency and challenge the supreme authorities to act accordingly.

Such views are reflective of the growing ‘green radical movement,’ which calls for a top-down approach to resolving the climate threat. It suggests a total de-rooting of the very fibres of our existence: capitalism, elitism and globalisation to name a few.

Last week’s protests saw a wave of placards float across London declaring: ‘system change not climate change.’

Certainly, there is some proof in the pudding. It’s not news that consumerism is harming the planet. In fact, most scientists share a consensus that current global consumption patterns are unsustainable and require evaluation. But how far is too far?

For XR, the radicalism of the protests is reflective of the radical action required to tackle climate change successfully.

In the UK Politics Hour’s latest podcast, we spoke to a protester who had been camping for four days straight on London Bridge in the name of climate awareness.

He presented his commitment as dutiful; he was resilient and ready to combat ruling forces with whatever it took to stand up to climate change. The full interview is available through the link at the bottom.

Like most things to do with politics these days, opinions were split across the nation as to whether XR’s approach was necessary.

With few more abrasive than an angry London commuter, many responded distastefully to the protesters. Journalist Mike Graham took to Twitter to express his frustration:

tweet for blog

Yet others were not so disapproving of the action. A recent opinion piece in the Guardian stated: “Critics complain that the civil disobedience campaign is unrealistic and disruptive, but its tactics are forcing the public and politicians to confront the climate emergency.”

XR have undeniably been successful in pushing a climate-centric discourse to the forefront of discussions. In just a year of existing, the group have managed to get Britain to declare a ‘climate emergency’ and pushed the government to commit to net-zero emissions targets by 2050. A survey this year also found that 85% of Britons now believe that climate change is a serious threat, compared to 59% in 2013 (Ipsos Mori, 2019).

Indeed, the nation appears to be moving closer to unanimity that we must take global action against climate change. However, the response to the XR protests suggests the means of achieving this are much more highly disputed. Despite the vast number of Brits now supporting climate action, just 17% are opposed to capitalism in Britain (YouGov, 2017).

In the midst of all this debate, what we must agree on is this: climate change is scientifically, bona fide real. We cannot ignore its presence.

We live in a world where natural disaster and not our leaders convince us of the truth.

In the year where US emissions rose by 3.5%, Alaska saw its highest ever temperature, sea levels rose higher than any other year and the Earth’s glaciers lost more than 9 trillion tonnes of ice, we must unite.

Let us work out the logistics along the way, but let us all stand together in the name of preserving our planet and make a global commitment to care for Mother Earth.