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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Charlie Duffield

The Big One climate protest: when is it and what are Extinction Rebellion’s aims?

Today marks the end of a four-day protest by Extinction Rebellion nicknamed ‘The Big One’.

The climate change activist group has facilitated a major protest in central London which began on Friday April 21.

At a press conference on Tuesday, the eco-group Extinction Rebellion said it would be joined by allies in the disruption if its demands were not met.

It is calling for the Government to stop the search for new fossil fuels and to establish “emergency citizens’ assemblies” to decide how to bring about the end of the fossil fuel era.

Here’s everything you need to know about The Big One.

When is The Big One?

‘The Big One is taking place outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster from April 21 to 24.

What’s happening at The Big One?

The Big One is the first major event since Extinction Rebellion announced it was abandoning disruptive tactics to “prioritise attendance over arrest and relationships over roadblocks”.

It promises to be an accessible and family-friendly event, and is designed to be peaceful, safe and inclusive.

Each of the four days has a distinct focus and set of activities.

  • Friday 21st – Unite to Survive. Westminster is filled with flags, banners and people.
  • Saturday 22nd – Earth Day. An enormous, celebration and family-friendly march for biodiversity
  • Sunday 23rd – Running Out of Time! The Big One coexists with the London Marathon
  • Monday 24th – Choose Your Future. Parliament returns, the demand is delivered

On its website, Extinction Rebellion says The Big One will be “awash with colour and culture, the politically powerful streets of Westminster will be transformed with People’s Pickets outside government departments and a diverse programme of speakers, performers and workshops”.

It is calling on 100,000 people to attend, and is working alongside an impressive range of environmental NGOs, trade unionists, anti-racism campaigners and climate activists.

More than 200 organisations are listed as supporters, from single-issue protest groups like Right to Roam and Don’t Pay UK to older, broad-based NGOs and CAFOD.

Other notable charities which are involved in the demonstration include Friends of the Earth, Global Justice Now, Greenpeace and Fossil Fuel London.

Given the Public Order Bill, it’s an important time to be advocating for the right to peaceful protest.

Marijn van de Geer of XR told a press conference: “We’ve come back stronger than ever, with unions, NGOs, ethical companies and a whole host of environmental groups all united in our call for political change and action to protect all life on Earth.”

She said The Big One will “be a period of connecting and music and dance but also it is a four-day coming together of over 200 groups with memberships totalling millions of people in this country and globally to decide what more radical action would look like for them”.

Ms van de Geer added: “So across these four days everyone will deliberate on what comes next if the Government refuses this major opportunity to engage with our demands, because we all agree the clock is ticking for every human and non-human alive today and none of us should and will sit quietly while time runs out.”

What are Extinction Rebellion’s aims for The Big One?

The Big One is demanding a citizen-led democracy to end the fossil fuel era and a fair society that includes reparations.

XR’s three core demands remain the same: Tell the Truth, Act Now and Decide Together.

The demand for an immediate end to all new fossil fuel licences – added in 2022 to recognise the need for definable action – also remains.

How can I get involved?

The invitation is for everybody to Unite to Survive, and according to Extinction Rebellion’s official count, more than 28,000 people so far have RSVP’d yes to the event.

You can turn up on any of the days between April 20 and 24, and you can find ways to volunteer or donate on XR’s website.

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