Extinction Rebellion Lambeth report on the explosive growth of the movement locally
Extinction Rebellion is gaining support at an incredible rate in Lambeth. In the wake of a triumphant two-week protest that turned many of London’s most iconic landmarks into traffic-free festivals of resistance to climate change, the second meeting of XR’s local group attracted so many people that they could not all fit into the room booked for the event.
More than 75 people of all ages attended the high-spirited meeting of Extinction Rebellion Lambeth – started less than a month ago by just a dozen local activists – at Effra Social on Effra Road on Wednesday night (1 May).
“The meeting was amazing. The room was packed and the atmosphere was electric,” said XR Lambeth group facilitator Bells Davidson. “People had to spill out into the corridor and overflow into the Effra Social’s garden as we split into smaller groups for discussion and feedback on what XR Lambeth members would like to plan next.
“The International Rebellion has brought together some many people and offered some hope and group support to individuals who are facing the reality of the climate breakdown that is happening globally now and that scientists predict will accelerate.
“It’s incredibly inspiring to see how many people are committed to bringing about real environmental change under the banner of Extinction Rebellion.”
The Lambeth group has seen its Facebook group grow to more than 300 members over the course of the International Rebellion in central London. “We’re struggling to keep up with the sheer number of people who want to join,” said group member Bess Herbert.
The meeting opened with a moment of pure joy as it was announced that the UK Parliament had agreed to XR’s number one demand and become the first in the world to declare a climate emergency.
“Everyone erupted into cheers and clapping. I had to wipe away tears,” said Steve Tooze. “It was perfect timing to get such incredible news to set the scene for the rest of the meeting.”
There was an introduction to the many newcomers of XR’s strategy of non-violent mass civil disobedience and its three key aims – to demand the government:
Declares a climate emergency
Creates a radical plan to lower carbon emissions to net zero by 2025, and
Forms a Citizen’s Assembly to lead the transformation of our society.
Splitting into six smaller groups, the group discussed and agreed a series of exciting plans for the next stage of the International Rebellion.
These ranged from guerrilla gardening – creating green oases of trees and plants around the borough – to road blockades cum music and art festivals to force Lambeth council to urgently follow up its own climate emergency declaration with a concrete plan to become carbon neutral by 2025.
“There was a lot of energy in the room and a desire to get on with things and make change happen fast,” said Steve, a 55-year-old dad of two from Herne Hill.
“There was also a lot of fear that if we lose momentum then it will be too late to make the world climate safe for our children and grand-children.
“So, we’ll be arranging for everyone to get non-violent direction action training as soon as possible, so that we are all ready to bring the energy, love and positivity that happened at Waterloo Bridge, Oxford Circus, Marble Arch and Parliament Square to Lambeth.’
One of the key decisions was to reach out to Lambeth’s BAME communities and leaders and get them more involved in XR. “We live in a very diverse borough and XR needs to truly represent that diversity,” said Roxanne, one of the people attending an XR meeting for the first time.
The next meeting of XR Lambeth will take place on Wednesday 8 May between 7 and 9pm. The venue will posted on the Extinction Rebellion Lambeth Facebook page soon,