UK activist group using climate talks in Poland this week to widen 35-country network
Last modified on Mon 10 Dec 2018
The Extinction Rebellion climate protest group has expanded to 35 countries and is building towards a week of international civil disobedience in April, according to organisers, who are using UN climate talks in Poland this week to widen its network.
The rapid spread of the movement, which consisted of 10 people in the UK six months ago, comes amid rising frustration with policymakers who are failing to slow perilous levels of global warming and biodiversity loss.
The distinctive banner of the group was evident at a rally on Saturday attended by several thousand climate campaigners in Katowice, the city hosting the conference. Campaigners also held Skype workshops for activists in Berlin, after training sessions in the US, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Ghana and Poland.
“In the two months since our first action, we have expanded more than we imagined,” Liam Geary Baulch, an environmental activist, said. “We are now planning to change our structure so it can accommodate up to 2 million people.”
Extinction Rebellion rose to prominence last month when thousands of activists blocked five London bridges, glued themselves to public buildings and disrupted traffic with “swarming” protests that led to dozens of arrests.
This form of direct action has struck a chord in other countries. The Dutch activist Sjoerd de Koning said he would be among 60 people starting a chapter of the movement in The Hague next week.
“We saw what was going on in London and thought this is what we have been looking for for a long time – peaceful civil disobedience targeted at politicians,” he said. “There is a lot of energy in this movement and it’s global.”
In Poland, most environmental campaigns until now have been locally focused on issues such as smog in Silesia, deforestation in Białowieża and wetland destruction in Rospuda, but activists are starting to sign up to Extinction Rebellion, which some see as a potential umbrella organisation.
“We can all unite under this and make our voice heard,” said Izabella Mier, a member of a food sovereignty group. “It’s incredibly inspiring to bring different organisations together for a common goal. We’re looking for a way not just to be worried about climate change but to do something.”