Guidance on direct activism

Your declaration and plan might lead you to consider direct activism, which means preventing harm, joining direct action campaigns and boldly speaking truth to power. 

This will be harder for organisations to consider than individuals, although some activism can mean serious impacts for individuals. 

Why direct action?

A major cause of injustice today is the suppression of truth by industrial and fossil fuel lobbyists – based in the Global North – so that they can continue to profit from exploiting people and plundering nature. The situation is much worse than we are told by those in power and in the media. The alarming reality needs to be named and discussed on media channels and in all cultural or civic forums. Equally vital is that solutions are clearly laid out. If speedy and drastic action is taken, if solutions within our reach are applied, governments can meet their climate goals.

The deliberate silencing of truths about the Earth crisis must end. The need to take action on climate and ecocide is more urgent and more immediate than ever. The measures currently being taken are wholly inadequate to meet the current level of threat, as the destabilisation of global climate has progressed much more quickly than predicted. Failure to act is a failure of responsibility and an incredible arrogance in the face of global consensus on science.

Tackling the Earth crisis, its systemic causes and its unjust impacts should be the overriding priority of every politician, and to which all available resources should be immediately directed. Until they do, anyone who is able to must call for this, to communicate that sense of Emergency to others, to advocate for those unable to participate fully in civic life, and to push for the action that it demands.

Being a platform or helper

  • If you’re a practitioner, respond to calls for your skills from Extinction Rebellion, school strikers, Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth groups, local Transition groups and Councils. 
  • If as an organisation you have space, can you give a discount for meetings or rehearsals, invite activists to speak, or programme relevant events? 
  • Make an announcement or invite speakers before your programmed events or alongside welcome panels. Tell your audience why you have declared emergency. 

Agree limits on direct action

  • Agree what are the limits for you in terms of activism. Declaring Emergency does not mean taking part in civil disobedience or disruptive action, but it might be perceived as such. Your funding and public role might require neutrality, which means that you need to carefully discuss how to communicate your stance.
  • You might decide that creative Nonviolent Direct Action (NVDA) is appropriate, and if so, you will need to consider your safe limits on this, and potentially to consult a lawyer and seek training. This may be more appropriate if you are declaring as an individual.
  • In this toolkit we offer a range of pathways, including ways you can support your communities in the context of Emergency. These do not include suggestions for disruptive actions, or Non Violent Direct Action (NVDA), as part of a declaration response. However, the template declaration text is supportive of demands being made globally for truth, action and justice, and by implication acknowledges the validity of the many forms of NVDA being used to make the demands, particularly where democratic routes are insufficient.
  • Of the many types of NVDA, only a small number are potentially ‘arrestable’. Supporting or participating in direct action events does not mean you have to carry out disruptive actions, and the risk of arrest for those that do is very small.  See the Legal Briefing from Extinction Rebellion

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