Posted on 23 July 2019
Extinction Rebellion’s Declaration Letter was published in the Letters page of the Guardian newspaper in May 2018.
The letter is as follows:
We the undersigned represent diverse academic disciplines, and the views expressed here are those of the signatories and not their organisations. While our academic perspectives and expertise may differ, we are united on this one point: we will not tolerate the failure of this or any other government to take robust and emergency action in respect of the worsening ecological crisis. The science is clear, the facts are incontrovertible, and it is unconscionable to us that our children and grandchildren should have to bear the terrifying brunt of an unprecedented disaster of our own making.
We are in the midst of the 6th mass extinction, with around 200 species becoming extinct each day. Humans cannot continue to violate the fundamental laws of nature or of science with impunity. If we continue on our current path, the future for our species is bleak.
Our Government is complicit in ignoring the Precautionary Principle, and in failing to acknowledge that unbounded economic growth on a planet with finite resources is non-viable. Instead, the Government irresponsibly promotes rampant consumerism and free-market fundamentalism, and allows greenhouse gas emissions to rise. Earth Overshoot Day (the date when humans have used up more resources from nature than the planet can renew in the entire year) falls ever earlier each year (1 August in 2018).
When a government wilfully abrogates its responsibility to protect its citizens from harm and to secure the future for generations to come, it has failed in its most essential duty of stewardship. The ‘social contract’ has been broken, and it is therefore not only our right, but our moral duty to bypass the Government’s inaction and flagrant dereliction of duty, and to rebel to defend life itself.
We therefore declare our support for Extinction Rebellion, launching on 31 October 2018. We fully stand behind the demands for the Government to tell the hard truth to its citizens. We call for a Citizens’ Assembly to work with scientists on the basis of the extant evidence and in accordance with the Precautionary Principle, urgently to develop a credible plan for rapid total decarbonisation of the economy.
A call to action, the letter was signed by 100 academics. Notable signatories include Rowan Williams Arch Bishop of Canterbury, Caroline Lucas – the first Green MP, and Molly Scott Cato – Green MEP and a Quaker.
Scott Cato writes of putting her faith into action:
“As a Quaker, I don’t believe that spiritual wisdom resides in books or rituals but in the still, small voice that tells you when something must change. When the inward light, that I believe we all have within us, prompts you to stand up to a fascist bully or to engage in civil disobedience to halt climate breakdown, you have no choice but to follow.”
Molly Scott Cato
Extinction Rebellion is essentially a grassroots civil disobedience people’s movement designed to fight worldwide political inaction against climate change and catastrophic ecological collapse.
The organisers say they hope the campaign of non-violent ‘respectful disruption’ will change the debate around climate breakdown and signal to those in power that the present course of action will lead to disaster.
Beginning with the UK Government, Extinction Rebellion declares:
“In accordance with our conscience and as a clear duty to our children; our communities; this nation; and the planet; we are going to rebel against this criminally negligent Government.”
The group states three main aims, which are:
- The Government must tell the truth about the climate and wider ecological emergency, reverse inconsistent policies and work alongside the media to communicate with citizens.
- The Government must enact legally binding policy measures to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and to reduce consumption levels.
- A national Citizen’s Assembly to oversee the changes, as part of creating a democracy fit for purpose.”
Extinction Rebellion protest events began in the UK, November 2018, and events soon spread across the world to create a global movement of environmental activists.
In 2019, the United States presidential candidate and socialist Bernie Sanders tweeted in support of Extinction Rebellion to his 7.5 million followers. He included a link to the article, As the fracking protesters show, a people’s rebellion is the only way to fight climate breakdown (external link), also published in the Guardian.
Images from www.pbs.org