What is Extinction Rebellion and what does it want?

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Image source, Getty Images

Protest group Extinction Rebellion says it is considering what action to take during a crucial climate change conference in Glasgow.

World leaders will be among 25,000 people at the summit - called COP26 - from 31 October to 12 November.

What has Extinction Rebellion said about COP26?

Campaigners plan to put world leaders under pressure to commit to reducing global emissions.

Extinction Rebellion says they have failed to provide "a compassionate and functional response" to the climate crisis.

It has called on its supporters to pledge "mass civil resistance" and says it will "support disruptive action" at COP26.

What does Extinction Rebellion (XR) want?

Extinction Rebellion describes itself as an international "non-violent civil disobedience" movement.

It says life on Earth is in crisis and facing a mass extinction. It wants governments to declare a "climate and ecological emergency" and take immediate action.

The group uses an hourglass inside a circle as its logo, to represent time running out for many species.

Man holding a Extinction Rebellion placard
Extinction Rebellion facts

  • 2025the year the group wants greenhouse emmissions to reach net zero

  • 408,000followers on Facebook

  • 3,672XR demonstrators arrested across the three London protests

  • 2018year the group was founded

Source: BBC Research

What are its aims?

In the UK, Extinction Rebellion has three main demands:

  • The government must declare a climate "emergency"
  • The UK must legally commit to reducing carbon emissions to net zero by 2025
  • A citizens' assembly must be formed to "oversee the changes"

Can its aims be achieved?

Reducing CO2 emissions to almost zero in such a short period would be extremely ambitious.

Severe restrictions on flying would be needed. Diets would have to change, by drastically cutting back on meat and dairy.

Media caption,
Who are Extinction Rebellion?

However, the group itself doesn't say exactly what the solutions to tackle climate change should be.

Instead, it wants the government to create a "citizens' assembly", made up of ordinary people. They would decide how to solve the climate crisis, with advice from experts.

What are its tactics?

The group often uses disruptive tactics to highlight its demands.

Across a two-week period in August and September, activists blocked Oxford Circus and erected a giant table in Covent Garden. More than 130 people locked or glued themselves to roads and buildings.

This followed previous campaigns across London, Manchester and Cardiff in 2019 and 2020.

There have also been protests in other countries:

Image source, Getty Images

How is Extinction Rebellion related to Insulate Britain?

Insulate Britain is a recently-launched group calling for a national programme to ensure homes are insulated to be low energy by 2030.

Hundreds of its members have been arrested in recent weeks after blocking major roads in and around London, including motorways.

It is supported by some members of Extinction Rebellion and its allied networks - although the groups are not officially integrated.

Insulate Britain is a much smaller UK-specific campaigning organisation.

What have critics said about the groups?

Many of those directly affected by protests have objected to the tactics used by both Insulate Britain and Extinction Rebellion.

Boris Johnson has accused both groups of being "crusties" who block the streets and cause disruption.

Green Party co-leader Carla Denyer said while there was a place for direct action, Insulate Britain was "not necessarily always doing it in the most constructive way".

Extinction Rebellion has said anyone angered by its protests should "find out more about the severity of the ecological and climate crisis".

Who supports Extinction Rebellion?

Among 18 to 24-year-olds, 41% either "strongly supported" or "somewhat supported" the disruption of traffic and public transport in London to highlight Extinction Rebellion's aims.

That compared with 33% of those aged 50-65 and just 26% of over-65s.

Extinction Rebellion has most support amongst younger adults. Adults asked if they broadly supported the disruption of public transport in London.  .