17th April 2023
Between protest movements and striking trade unions and workers, the sight of organised people on the streets is once more becoming increasingly common in the UK. These protests and strikes are happening because the hardships we face are glaringly apparent and getting worse by the day – from the climate crisis to the cost of living one.
Given their shared struggle, many groups are now working together to face these issues head on. That will be fully on display this April when Extinction Rebellion and others launch ‘The Big One’.
According to the group itself:
By joining the dots between the intersecting crises we face, the breadth and diversity of these organisations demonstrates that it is time to meet the urgency of the moment and unite people across the UK in demanding systemic change to tackle the interconnected crises of climate, cost of living, and politics.
The Big One: an alliance
Extinction Rebellion has announced that:
With one month to go before thousands descend on Parliament from 21st -24th of April for ‘The Big One’, a groundbreaking alliance of leading NGOs, unions and movements have announced their commitment to stand with Extinction Rebellion and many others this April.
Environmental charities Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and Earth Day; health groups NHS Workers Say No and Greener Practice; justice groups Global Justice Now, Black Lives Matter local groups, Don’t Pay UK; global peace movement Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND); trade union PCS Union; are just a few of the organisations supporting The Big One, having agreed to take part in April during a turbulent moment in UK political history and the government’s ongoing failure to provide solutions to the major crises of our time.
The action is going on for four days: from 21 to 24 April. It also coincides with Earth Day on 22 April. The Big One’s aim is that large numbers of people will keep returning to parliament for several days. The event will feature performances, speakers and workshops. Extinction Rebellion said:
Like other campaign styles that increase pressure over a prolonged period, the four days aim to be the beginning of building a united, persistent force for change.
It is also organising “People’s Pickets”. These are protests that The Big One will hold near at least seven key government department locations. Extinction Rebellion said these will address “crucial issues in environment, education, health, housing, and work”. It added that:
Alongside the larger organisations who have signed up to join, Extinction Rebellion’s self-organising network of Local Groups from across the UK have been building community and connections with other community groups and local unions, such as Norwich Trade Union Council and Unite Grassroot Climate Justice Caucus.
The group has been posting on social media about the protest, noting – unarguably – that the government is “corrupt as fuck”:
Extinction Rebellion also noted that its announcement of The Big One fell:
on the day the latest IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] Synthesis Report is released, which confirms that there is still no credible pathway in place to meet the 1.5 degree target, and that it is “now or never” to take drastic action to avoid disaster.
Those joining in with The Big One include the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union. The union’s assistant general secretary Fran Heathcote said:
PCS members taking strike action understand the need to coordinate across our movements to win our demands for better pay and to safeguard jobs. The climate and nature emergency requires the same to win the future we desperately need in the face of multiple crises and why we are supporting this XR action.
Greenpeace is also supporting the action. It said:
We believe that we will win as a movement. That’s why we’re inviting you to join us in attending Extinction Rebellion’s ‘The Big One’. They recently announced a change in tactic making this a peaceful protest which prioritises attendance over arrest and relationships over roadblocks so they can be as inclusive as possible. We are joining many other organisations, charities and concerned people in Parliament Square on 21st-22nd April, to call on the government to act now for people and planet. The more people that come, the louder our message will be.
Zoë Howard from Don’t Pay UK commented:
The energy and climate crises are inextricably linked. The extortionate energy prices we pay line the pockets of fossil fuel company shareholders and fund the breakdown of our climate. We’re proud to join Extinction Rebellion in demanding the systemic change we need to make sure everyone has access to affordable, sustainable energy.
Healthcare workers are also supporting The Big One. Grassroots group NHS Workers Say No and its co-founder Holly Turner added:
We have experienced a pandemic and a heatwave that has taken us to the limit of our endurance. These two issues are intertwined. The climate crisis is unfolding in front of us and we are deeply concerned about our patients. For that reason Extinction Rebellion has our unfailing support.
The full list of organisations signed up as supporters so far is here. Extinction Rebellion has made the following call to action:
Are you not yet signed up for The Big One? There is still time to tell us you’ll be there. Whether you’re an individual or an organisation, follow the steps below to sign up for The Big One:
1. Are you an individual? Sign up to the ticker at www.extinctionrebellion.uk/the-big-one
2. Are you an organisation? Support at www.extinctionrebellion.uk/support-the-big-one
Featured image via Extinction Rebellion