Time to rebel – a call for civil disobedience

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October 4th, 2019

For the past decades we have tried climate activism. It hasn’t worked.

We’ve protested in our hundreds of millions – it hasn’t worked.

We’ve raised billions to reach people and politicians –it hasn’t worked.

We’ve lobbied for subsidies for renewables – it hasn’t worked.

We’ve signed countless online petitions – it hasn’t worked.

We’ve looked to the United Nations to resolve the crisis – it hasn’t worked.

We’ve trusted progressive politicians and their reforms – it hasn’t worked.

Al Gore had a big concert and a PR campaign – it hasn’t worked.

Countless NGOs did their best – it hasn’t worked.

In October 2018 Extinction Rebellion closed five bridges in London – that was something different.

They say we need a new approach to save ourselves and the planet, that we need to spark a rebellion – this might just work.

Extinction Rebellion Ireland protest Photo: Niall Sargent

Rise of the Irish rebellion

Following the blockade of the Thames bridges a public meeting was held in the Teachers Club in Dublin and a unanimous decision was taken to form Extinction Rebellion Ireland.

Since that first meeting our growth has been exponential. In less than a year we now have thousands of declared rebels organised in local groups in counties Dublin, Cork, Clare, Galway, Kildare, Kerry, Limerick, Derry, Leitrim, and Wexford to name but a few.

Our rebels come from urban and rural backgrounds – they are young and old and come from all political parties and none. What unites everyone is our vision for urgent and just action on the climate and ecological crisis in Ireland and around the world. 

But while our movement is growing fast, so is the scale of the challenge we face. In September, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that future warming will lead to a host of catastrophic impacts and turn once in a 100-year extreme floods into an annual events.

Ireland is an island nation – over 40 per cent of our population lives within 5km of the coast. It is doubtful that areas of counties Dublin, Galway and Cork can be protected from extreme flooding and multi-metre sea-level rise.

Yet, despite our vulnerability, we are the third-highest emitter of greenhouse gases per capita in the EU and are towards the bottom of the table for positive climate action. If any country has an incentive to act decisively, it’s us.

Dr Ciaran O Carroll at XR Ireland takeover of O’Connell Bridge Photo: Niall Sargent

‘Criminally-neglect strategy’

But our Government shows no signs of doing this. Instead they are actively supporting the importation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the USA.

This criminally-neglect strategy has the potential to lock Ireland into hydrocarbon infrastructure for decades, at a time when scientists are telling us there is no alternative but to slash our emissions and adapt our societies to withstand the worst predicted effects of climate breakdown.

But extinction and extermination are not yet inevitable. We can stop this crime by refusing to participate in or cooperate with the ecocide and destruction that is taking place. Starting next Monday, we will join together with people across the globe to do just that.

This involves mass participation civil disobedience: thousands of people blocking the centre of capital cities to demand action. In Ireland, we will be shutting down an area of Dublin City Centre to traffic, and opening it up for the people so that those in power hear our demands loud and clear.

But what we need most is YOU. Your presence will give the rebellion strength, be it for a few hours, a day, a week.

This is vital to ensure that road blocks are held and that spirits are well-lifted throughout the rebellion, both day and night.  There is strength in numbers, and our voices are loudest in unison.

Now is the time for civil disobedience. It is time to rebel.

By Ciarán Ó Carroll

Ciaran is a member of Extinction Rebellion Ireland and lives in North Dublin. You can find out more about the Irish branch of Extinction Rebellion here: www.extinctionrebellionireland.com

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