Unite to Survive – why we joined thousands at XR’s ‘The Big One’

If Not Now’s co-founder Chris and account manager Pete joined thousands on the streets of London for Extinction Rebellion’s ‘The Big One’ climate protest, which called on the UK government to end our fossil fuel era.

Chris and Pete out in force with our client Bristol Energy Coop

In 2019, Extinction Rebellion descended on London and people sat up and took notice. Within months, the UK had set a 2050 Net Zero target and climate emergencies were declared by businesses and councils across the country.

Since then, progress has stalled.

The government has been successfully taken to court by Client Earth. Its own revised plans still fall short of setting out a clear pathway to Net Zero. Even the government’s own Climate Change Committee warns that targets across the board are being missed.

Extinction Rebellion’s The Big One was announced as a four day protest on the streets of the capital; an opportunity for organisations including Greenpeace, Friends of The Earth and many others to come together and call out the government’s glacial action on Net Zero. Unlike previous protests, the aim was to be non-disruptive and inclusive.

At If Not Now we work hard day in, day out on digital campaigns to make this world a fairer, kinder, more sustainable place. As activists, we’re also conscious of the importance of showing up for causes in person – to show solidarity with those present and to show politicians our strength of feeling.

Taking full advantage of our 4 day work week, we got to London bright and early on Friday and made it along to the opening ceremony. We were soon shoulder to shoulder with over 1,000 rebels of all ages as Extinction Rebellion Co-Founder Clare Farrell quoted Abraham Heschel:

“…morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings, that indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, that in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.”

It was impossible not to feel emotional. The need to be here in person felt more important than ever.

The day passed in a blur. We visited pickets outside almost every governmental department in the city; from Writer’s Rebel at Tufton Street to Business Declares at the Department For Energy Security & Net Zero. Everywhere we went were people passionately standing up for our planet and the life it sustains.

“To be back on the streets, shoulder to shoulder with people who are full of energy and determination to ensure we have a future was intoxicating. It reminded me of how important this part of our democracy is, that of peaceful protest. The overwhelming atmosphere was of hope, solidarity, love and determination. We will not give up fighting.” Chris Bettles, Co-Founder.

Hear more from Chris in this interview with Heart FM.

“The climate fight has been going on for decades. It can be hard to stay positive and keep batting away cynicism and apathy. The sense of solidarity here today was magical, though. It’s good to remind ourselves and others that thousands upon thousands of us care DEEPLY about a sustainable, equitable planet.” Pete Hughes, Account Manager.

We can’t keep waiting for the government and politicians to do the right thing for us and for the planet. At If Not Now we’re going to continue with business as usual; fighting the good fight. If you’re a charity or organisation taking action on climate, we’d love to hear from you. Email us info@ifnotnowdigital.co.uk

P.S. We couldn’t resist the urge to jump on the trending Wes Anderson bandwagon. Check out our “Climate protest, but make it Wes Anderson” video on our TikTok. Oh, go on then!

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