The Extinction Rebellion (XR) ‘Change is Now‘ tour bus visited The Triangle at Teignmouth on Friday 23 September with a mission to promote ideas and unity with local rebels and residents. XR are looking to increase activism amongst people who are concerned about the current cost of living crisis and the impact of the changing climate.
As part of the visit, Extinction Rebellion Teignmouth/Newton Abbot arranged performances by local musicians, poets and artists, and gave people the opportunity to voice their concerns and to be informed about the climate crisis.
Teignbridge Councillor David Cox spoke about predicted sea rise impacts for Teignmouth residents; I talked about the consequences of over extraction on the ocean in my capacity as an Ocean Rebellion activist. David Ramsden updated attendees on the latest climate change science and Moretonhampstead XR activist ‘Liz’ explained how the climate crisis impacts flooding. Its predicted that the towns of Newton Abbot and Teignmouth will be submerged by 2050 as a consequence of global heating and icecap melt.
I interviewed local Lib Dem Councillor and PPC Martin Wrigley who stressed that the way to beat the cost of living crisis is to beat the energy crisis. That could be achieved by investing heavily in renewables and getting the fossil fuel giants to pay for the move away from oil and gas rather than putting the cost on the public purse. He was horrified by the absence of any mention of the climate crisis in the mini-budget and the reintroduction of fracking, saying the government was going in completely the opposite direction from what is needed if we are to avoid climate catastrophe.
Engaging with passers-by on the need for People’s Assemblies, the bus crew found overwhelming support from the public for the view that the government is not taking climate change seriously enough.
At noon a procession of rebels were led by the Water Beings and Green Spirits headed from the Triangle across the Den, along the seafront from the pier to stage a dramatic ‘die-in’ on the beach, symbolising the extinction of species as the planet as environments become ever more inhospitable.
Later in the afternoon, a climate cafe meeting was held at the Lobster Lounge in Teignmouth, facilitated by local psychologists Mandy and Annie. It gave people the opportunity to express their innermost feelings and fears on the climate crisis.
I summed up the day as a great experience for all those who participated and attended. It is clear from our outreach activities around the bus that local people want government to do much, much more.
This is the official statement from XR on its strategy for engagement:
“Our political systems are out of date, out of touch and can’t cope with the crises we face, focused on divisive debates rather than coming together to solve real problems. It is clear that the collective intelligence and common sense of ordinary people can help us to face the real world far better than our lobbied, biased, corrupt politicians.
Extinction Rebellion has always been willing to stake our faith in the integrity of everyday people over politicians. That’s why we demand a Citizens’ Assembly on Climate and Ecological Justice.
The situation is urgent and that means it’s time to slow down and listen to each other. So, travelling the UK and hearing from ordinary people about the need to upgrade politics and the power of deliberative democracy is vital. We need an independent democratic process by which ordinary people sit around the table, learn, listen and overcome their differences to make the decisions we so badly need.
The Change Is Now Tour will embody this. At Extinction Rebellion, we believe in walking the walk as well as talking the talk, and that’s why we believe this tour is crucial to understanding where the country is at on their climate journey. While we travel across the country, we will make space to listen to each other, and come together in communities to be empowered to act.
For more information, visit Extinction Rebellion’s Facebook page.