Picture credit:  Taken from wildlifearticles.co.uk / Louis Shoultz

Mark Engineer gives a brief guide to the new and increasingly high-profile climate campaign group – and its activities in Lewes

Who are we?
Extinction Rebellion (or XR) is an international movement that’s using non-violent civil disobedience to pressure governments to act in order to avert climate disaster. We’re inspired by past activists like Gandhi and Martin Luther King, and grassroots movements like Occupy.

Our first gathering was on 31st October 2018, in Parliament Square. On 17th November, rebels made national headlines by blocking five London bridges, with dozens arrested. Since then XR has spread to 27 countries and undertaken hundreds of actions. A week of mass action will commence on 15th April 2019.

What are your aims?
XR has three core demands:

– The Government must tell the truth about the ecological emergency, and reverse its inconsistent policies

– The Government must enact legally binding policy measures to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025

– A national Citizens’ Assembly is needed to oversee the changes

Ambitious? Certainly. Unrealistic. Perhaps. But it’s too late to do anything but aim high.

Are things really that bad?
Yes. The world is now in the middle of a mass extinction bigger and faster than the one that killed the dinosaurs. The Earth’s atmosphere is already over 1°C warmer than preindustrial levels. At current rates, climate scientists publicly say we’re set for warming of over 3 degrees. Privately, some say 6 or 7 degrees is possible. Also, since 1970 we’ve wiped out around 60% of the animals on Earth, destroying ecosystems we depend on for survival. The future’s a horror show – floods, wildfires, extreme weather and crop failures.

Enormous effort is needed to avert this. But our governments are failing us. One week after the IPCC report on climate change warned we have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, the Chancellor delivered a budget speech that didn’t mention it once. Meanwhile the government forces through fracking, while the opposition supports a third runway at Heathrow. And all governments are culpable. Canada with tar sands, Germany with lignite mines. Australia’s PM takes coal into Parliament and waves it around, shouting “It’s nothing to be afraid of!” Let’s not get started on Trump. And perhaps scariest of all, there’s President Bolsonaro in Brazil. The Amazon – the planet’s lungs – is in the hands of a climate change denier.

If this sounds bleak, that’s because it is. There’s still some hope. But not if we do nothing.

What are XR doing in Lewes?

Lewes’ XR Group on London Bridge, November 2018

XR has a decentralised structure that enables local groups to work autonomously. We’ve a very lively and rapidly growing local group that meets regularly. We’re holding an Extinction Rebellion Funeral Procession in Lewes on Saturday 16 March (more here…), and a talk on Thursday 28 March at the White Hart. Other actions are planned building up towards the international week of rebellion on 15 April.

Some of us are old hands at this sort of thing. Some are new to it, and breaking the law, risking arrest, just doesn’t seem right. But we’re doing it anyway, because we think it’s all that’s left.

Lewes is a civilised and genteel place, but it also has a proud tradition of rebellion. We need that rebellious spirit now. Come and join us! Everybody is welcome.

Useful links
General XR website:


XR Facebook page:


Lewes XR FB page:



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