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Inside Extinction Rebellion: New documents reveal the structure of the international climate movement

In the last year, a group of climate activists have achieved international notoriety.

By organising mass strikes and occupying important sites across the globe, Extinction Rebellion has forced the world to wake up to our climate emergency.

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But, in many ways, the group is shrouded in mystery. With previous available information only covering the people involved in the group, documents seen by Scram News now reveal the structure behind the global movement.

Structure

Broadly, XR is decentralised – comprising of different national and regional groups, which provide the “basic family unit” to plan local actions.

Indeed, Extinction Rebellion claim they now have a presence in 70 countries, with 539 groups. 

Nevertheless, XR still has central groups that are co-ordinated by their core team, responsible for different functions of the movement. 

For example, a finance team allocates funds to 13 national working groups who bid for cash in a two-three month rolling process. These finances are garnered from three fundraising groups – one which focuses on crowdfunding, another on attracting high-net donors, and one that approaches grant-makers. Transparent about their finances, XR have said they are on track to receive £500,000 for their current two-week rebellion and are seeking £250,000 more.

Another Extinction Rebellion group provides training to new rebels, and says it can train 1,000 people a day. A political group lobbies lawmakers in multiple countries, and a production team manages the health and safety behind the scenes of actions.

Meanwhile, its Future Democracy Hub reveals the wider political aims of the group. It organises talks like “How Britain Shall be run” and encourages participatory democracy, revolving around citizen’s assemblies. While Extinction Rebellion primarily mobilises around the issue of climate change, it holds the belief that this problem can only be resolved through a fundamental change in capitalism.

The rebels also have an arts team which deals with the visual outputs of XR, designed to counteract excessive consumer advertising which they say shows “useless crap from ever more useless and irresponsible corporates”.

A spokesperson from the team said:

“We prove that you can engage people with the climate crisis using PVA glue and a bag of feathers.”

It also has an Arrest Support Team, which provides support to those who are arrested in the process of protesting. That’s a good job, considering 1,000 people have been arrested worldwide in the current round of strikes.

Aims

Extinction Rebellion’s aims are widely publicised: pushing the government to end emissions, act more urgently on climate change and to set up a citizen’s assembly to advise on future climate policy. But there is more to their political philosophy. According to documents seen by Scram News: “Regenerative culture is the radical goal of Extinction Rebellion.”

By this, they mean that they want to create a radically different society in which humans put more into the system than they take out.

To meet this goal, Extinction Rebellion want to recruit a total of 2 million rebels, as their research has suggested this is the number required to bring about widespread social change. Presently, they have 160,000 people on their mailing list.

Methods

Extinction Rebellion use three types of action: disruption (through acts of civil disobedience), outreach (raising public awareness), and visionising (demonstrating the future they want to see).

The rebels try to include all three of these components in their protests to gain maximum reach. Since Monday, they have embarked on two weeks of actions which will use these three methods.

Media

While aiming to attract mainstream media coverage, Extinction Rebellion also has its own channels of communication.

They have partnered with Soho Radio to set up a pop-up platform called Rebel Radio to broadcast “the inside story of Extinction Rebellion” during the current two-week protest.

Their stories are also covered via a newly-launched newspaper, The Hourglass, which is (of course) printed on recycled paper.

Boris Johnson has labelled Extinction Rebellion activists as “crusties”. In reality though, their methods are modern and their ambitions are radical. It would be a huge error to underestimate their power to bring about change.

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