Unite to Survive – Join Us at The Big One

What are your plans for the weekend of 21 to 24 April? We’re going to a huge climate protest in London and it would be great if you can come too! It’s called The Big One and you can find more info here.

I know going to a protest might not be your cup of tea. There may be lots of reasons why you don’t want to come.

Maybe you don’t like crowds/noise/London/standing around outside for hours at time.

Maybe you’re worried about being arrested.

Maybe you can’t face the ordeal of figuring out the price of a train ticket to get there.

Or maybe you just don’t think that you need to be the one to protest. After all, there’ll be lots of other people there, so what difference does it make if you go or not?

We totally understand all these concerns – we felt all these feelings before going to our first protest.

However, we believe this isn’t about us feeling a bit nervous about doing something out of our comfort zone. Climate breakdown is so much bigger than our personal anxieties about giving up a few hours of our time to literally try to save the planet!

Here’s why we’re asking you to join us at The Big One:

1. The Big One is a movement of movements. Although the idea was conceived by Extinction Rebellion (XR), the weekend of action is being supported by more than 70 other organisations, including Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Mums for Lungs, CND and Fuel Poverty Action. The first day, Friday 21 April, is being billed as #UniteToSurvive with the reasoning that there’s power in numbers – if enough people from different groups turn up, the government will be forced to listen.

2. The aim is to get 100,000 people to gather at Westminster and the Houses of Parliament over the 4 days. 100,000 is the number of signatures needed for a petition to be debated in parliament. History has shown that if enough people gather peacefully at a nation’s seat of power, they cannot be ignored and positive social change can happen (examples include the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Velvet Revolution in Prague).

3. XR may be known for disruptive actions and arrests, but this year they have completely changed tactics in an attempt to get the general public on board. This is a non-arrestable action, with no blocking of roads or people gluing themselves to buildings. It is all about exercising our right to peacefully protest. This is probably the main reason why “mainstream” groups have decided to join in and support XR this time.

4. It is very unlikely that you will be arrested at this peaceful event, unless you do something that’s deemed a nuisance such as blocking a road and refusing to move! There is safety in numbers and a) the police can’t physically arrest 100,000 people and b) the Met should be on their best behaviour after recent news stories.

5. It’s crucial to remember the bigger picture. We don’t take to the streets lightly – there are loads of other things we’d rather be doing with our time! But time is running out and our politicians don’t appear to be listening to the science. In the last few weeks, the IPCC issued their starkest warning yet – essentially “act now or it’s too late”. To have any chance of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees, we have to cut our emissions in half by 2030. That’s only 7 years from now. So, what’s our government’s strategy? They are going to invest in carbon capture storage (CCS), a technology that doesn’t yet exist and hasn’t been proved to actually work, so they can continue investing in fossil fuels. This is a huge gamble with our future, especially when proven technologies already exist that can help us reach net zero – renewables such as solar and wind!

6. What we are calling on the government to do is stop all new oil and gas investment and to let the people decide our future with citizen’s assemblies. The specific demand of The Big One is “a citizen-led democracy to end the fossil fuel era and a fair society that includes reparation”. This isn’t some radical, unreasonable demand – it is based on the clear warnings on the world’s scientists and evidence we can see for ourselves right now that the climate is breaking down and nature is being destroyed.

7. Yes, there will be crowds, noise and standing around outside, possibly in the rain. However, a huge amount of planning has gone into the 4 days, to make the event family friendly, inclusive and accessible to all (we’re hoping to take Jane’s 8 year old). There will be lots of creative and engaging things going on. Expect interesting speakers, music, singing, arts and workshops, as well as opportunities to engage with like-minded people. It is intended to be fun!

Being prepared will help you enjoy the experience more. See our top tips for going to a climate protest for our thoughts on what to bring. Our main advice is to pack wisely, as you will be carrying your rucksack for a lot of the time. Pack and dress for all weathers – take a lightweight waterproof jacket as well as sunscreen! Remember snacks, a refillable water bottle, Tupperware and cutlery (although it’s obviously best to avoid bringing a sharp knife)! Make sure your phone is charged and you’ve got the numbers of any friends you plan to meet.

The train ticketing system in this country is a shambles, but you may be able to find a good deal to get to London. For example, some train companies offer discounts for group travel if there are 3 or more of you travelling together. And advance singles sometimes work out cheaper than buying an open return, if you don’t mind deciding beforehand what time you want to travel. Another option to consider is getting a bus to London. There may be a scheduled bus such as a National Express near where you live. Or contact your local XR or environmental group to see if they are organising a coach. For example, in the South West, there are coaches running from both Salisbury and Bath.

Please Join Us!

If you’re worried about climate change but feel powerless in the face of the enormity of the threat, then please join us in London from 21-24 April (come for one day or more). This is a massive opportunity for people power to reach the threshold where the government can no longer ignore the demands of the citizens. To stand any chance of making a real difference we need each and every one of you there. And if it doesn’t work, then at least we’ve tried! Please get in touch if you’re thinking of going or have any questions. We look forward to seeing you there!

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